HDD LED stay ON

Home Built
November 15, 2007 at 06:35:11
Specs: WinXP Pro w/SP-2, AMD 2100/1.5 GB PC2100

This problem just started a week ago. My mouse movement got jerky and if I am playing an Audio CD the music stops and goes. The LED for the Hard Drive stays illuminated continuously. I checked the Task Manager and nothing is running except System Idle at 98% which is normal. CPU is sitting at 2% usage. I removed the CD from the drive, but the problem continues. I ran a program called Whats Running and as the Task Manager, nothing shows up. Anybody have any ideas where else I could look or check?

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#1
November 15, 2007 at 09:28:06

Have you tried a defrag?

Life's more painless for the brainless.


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#2
November 15, 2007 at 09:45:35

Did you run MSCONFIG & check the startup tab?

http://netsquirrel.com/msconfig/


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#3
November 15, 2007 at 10:08:25

Hi folks: Yes, Jen, I not only defraged, but used the CCleaner to clear everything. My MSCONFIG has 6 items and I disabled all of them for the test. I also disabled all background running programs such as my Spyware, Virus and Firewall. I switched off my DSL modem, just in case also. The only way I can get rid of this continuous LED being ON is to Restart the computer. One thing I did notice is that I heard a click sound from inside the computer and then the LED came ON. I have no idea where this click sound came from or from what device. I ran a test of the Hard DRive with a program called HD Tune, and it said all was OK. I just don't know where else to look. BTW, thanks for your replies.

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Related Solutions

#4
November 15, 2007 at 10:32:43

How much free space do you have on the logical drive Windows is on (if you have only 1 partition and/or if it's the default that's C:)?
If you don't have enough free space, you will get strange symptoms, including the HDD led staying on a long time.
E.g. I get the HDD led staying on a long time sometimes when less than 1/8 of the total space is free.

If that's okay, or in any case, if your power supply is defective, it may be supplying too much or not enough voltage, or it may not be responding properly to changes in the load on it. Failing power supplies are common and can cause your symptoms.
Check your PS.
See response 4 in this:
http://www.computing.net/hardware/w...

If that's okay, your hard drive may be defective.
If the HDD led stays on a long time all the time or most of the time, this is a lot more likely to be your case.
Check your hard drive with the manufacturer's diagnostics.
See the latter part of response 1 in this:
http://www.computing.net/windows95/...
If you don't have a floppy drive, you can get a CD image diagnostic utility from most hard drive manufacturer's web sites, but obviously you would need to make a burned CD, preferably a CD-R for best compatibilty, on another computer if you need to.

If all of the above is okay, check to see whether your CD or DVD drive is working properly. If it isn't, the computer and Windows may behave strangely, especially when there is a CD in the drive - e.g. longer than usual delays while booting, the HDD led may stay on a long time sometimes. Optical drives don't last forever - usually the first thing that kills them is the sleeve bearings in the drive motor deteriorate to the point the drive can no longer spin as fast as it is capable of, and when it can no longer spin at the miniumum 1X rate properly (e.g. that regular audio CDs use), or the motor stops spinning, the Computer and Windows can't deal with that properly, and at the very least there will be delays. Disconnect the data cable for the problem drive in that case and the problem will probably go away.


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#5
November 15, 2007 at 12:48:24

Ok Tubesandwires. I will answer your questions in the order you asked. My C drive is an 80 GB dedicated only for Windows XP and 67 GB are free space. Monitoring my PSU in the Health Check portion of my Bios shows them all to be within 3% of their nominal values. My Motherboard Monitor program concurs when in Windows. I downloaded and ran the Western Digital Diagnostic utility program and both of my hard drives pass the tests. After Restarting my computer and the HDD LED is not illuminated, I play DVD's or Audio CD's with no problem. I even tried downloading data on a CD and also no problems. As I am writing this response, the LED has not come ON. Sometimes, the LED can be ON, but the mouse is functioning normally and Audio CD's also function normal. When the mouse pointer starts to act jerky, that's when the Audio cuts in and out and the LED is still ON steady. I haven't done any troubleshooting with the optical drives because they function normal except when the mouse starts to act up. How do you troubleshoot a device that works? Wait!! I just heard that click again in my computer, but nothing happened. The LED is only randomly blinking like it normally does. I just don't know.

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#6
November 15, 2007 at 13:59:04

"One thing I did notice is that I heard a click sound from inside the computer and then the LED came ON."

If you didn't have a CD in a CD drive at the time, there's not many things that can make a sound like that. Some older dial-up modems have a relay or two that will click when the modem connects or disconnects. Some monitors have a relay that will click when you or a program changes display modes.
Some hard drives, e.g. some WD, make a single click sound once in a while if you aren't actively using the drive at the time and it's normal for that model, it's usually a head positioning temperature related correction, but it doesn't cause the hard drive to do anything that would make the led come on for anything but a brief time. Any more than that from a hard drive indicates it's probably starting to fail, even if that doesn't show up yet when you test it with the manufacturer's diagnostics. Did you do the long test? If you didn't sometimes drive faults aren't found unless you do the long test.

"When the mouse pointer starts to act jerky, that's when the Audio cuts in and out and the LED is still ON steady."

If you were playing an audio CD at the time, all of that that could be caused by a faulty drive. In the early stages of failiure a CD drive is often intermittantly faulty. Try disconnecting it's data cable.

If the mouse is USB connected and you also have other USB connected devices, I have found some USB mice can conflict with other USB devices, and whether the mouse works properly in that case is inconsistant - sometimes it works fine, sometimes it doesn't. A hardware conflict can cause strange symptoms. If you have other USB devices plugged in try unplgging them.


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#7
November 16, 2007 at 11:47:34

Ok. As of this writing, I have disconnected my floppy drive and my DVD burner. Reason being, when the HDD LED was ON, I went to the Event Viewer and notice some system errors. It said something to the affect that my DVD burner was abruptly removed from the system. When I went to Device Manager, sure enough, my DVD burner was no longer listed. The floppy drive came ON many times for no reason. So, I disconnected the cables for both devices and so far so good. Why would my DVD burner all of a sudden remove itself? Anyway, I will monitor this way for a while and see what happens. I will re-connect the floppy first and monitor again, and so on. BTW, my mouse and keyboard are PS/2. The only device connected to USB is my Scanner. It's always OFF until I need it.

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#8
November 16, 2007 at 13:50:52

"Why would my DVD burner all of a sudden remove itself?"

Because it is defective and can't reliably achieve it's 1X speed, often because the motor bearings are failing, or there is a problem with it's data cable, or with recent DVD drives, possibly because you are using the wrong data cable type, or a lot less commonly it's logic board has failed, or a laser or laser circuit has failed (burner drives have at least two lasers),
OR - there is a known problem of XP occaisionally "losing" an optical drive.

If the DVD drive is capable of 16X DVD +R or DVD -R, or greater, if it is IDE connected it requires an 80 wire data cable in order to be able to achieve it's fastest speeds. If you use a 40 wire data cable it will probably still work, but you are likely to get data errors when you try to use it at it's faster burning speeds, or it's possible you will get data errors in other situations.
40 wire data cables are fine for any optical drive with lesser specs, if only optical drives are connected to it - if there is a hard drive on the same cable, the data cable has to be 80 wire to support the hard drive's UDMA66 or greater, unless the drive is really old (e.g. 1999 or older).

It is common to un-intentionally damage IDE data cables, especially while removing them - the 80 wire ones are more fragile. What usually happens is the cable is ripped at either edge and the wires there are either damaged or severed, often right at a connector or under it's cable clamp there, where it's hard to see - if a wire is severed but it's ends are touching, the connection is intermittant or not up to par, and you will randomly get data errors.
Another common thing is for the data cable to be separated from the connector contacts a bit after you have removed a cable - that can cause intermittant data errors - there should be no gap between the data cable and the connector - if there is press the cable against the connector to eliminate the gap.


If the optical drive is SATA connected....
SATA data cables are supposed to latch into their sockets, but it is common for that to not work and the cable is not latched, in which case the cable can move and cause a poor connection - make sure the data cable (and power cable if it's the SATA type) doesn't move when touched or wiggled near the socket.

If in doubt, replace the data cable - a cheap thing to try.

If for whatever reason XP detects the optical drive is producing too many data errors, it will automatically set the drive to PIO mode without you knowing about it. Burner drives are often not detected as burner drives when they are in PIO mode, but may be detected as a CD-rom or a DVD-rom drive. If the drive is defective enough, XP may not see the drive at all.

After examing your data cable, with it's data cable connected, take a look at this:
http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devic...
If it's connection is in PIO mode, try setting it to UDMA if available, save settings, then go back in to see if it's in a UDMA mode.
If it's still in PIO mode, XP has added entries in the Registry that force the drive into PIO mode all the time. I can tell you how to remove those entries, but if the problem that caused the data errors has not been fixed, XP will set the drive to PIO mode again right away, or in a short time, and will eventually make the registry entries again.


No spin test - easy to test for.
Only the power cable needs to be connected, when the computer is powered on.
Insert a CD in the drive, note it's relative position, close the tray, let the CD try to spin, when the led goes out eject the tray - if the CD is in the same position the drive motor is not spinning at all.

Telling symptoms.
If the led stays on for a long time when you insert a CD it can read, or blinks on and off for a long while, rather than lighting up briefly like it should, it's defective, for one reason or another, or it's data cable is damaged.
It may do this whether or not the data cable is connected.
If the led doesn't come on at all, the drive's logic board is fried.

The floppy drive symptoms are probably not because of the floppy drive, although you could check it's data cable too. However, floppy drives are often the first thing to fail if the computer power supply ever produces too much 5v in my experience (more than 5.5 volts) - the second most likely thing to be damaged in that situation in my experience is optical drives. E.g. Have you had a power supply die while it was connected to this computer??
The led often works, and the drive may seem fine for a short time, but eventually it can't read disks anymore, or a floppy drive may not be able to format.


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#9
November 18, 2007 at 08:04:18

Well, I reconnected my Floppy Drive and aside from the usual momentary blinking of it's LED at various times, there is no other problem with the HDD LED being constantly ON. It sure appears that my DVD Burner has been causing my HDD LED problem. I will wait a few more days and then reconnect the DVD Burner and see if the problem comes back. If it does, well I will decide then what to do. I have never tried to use it to burn a DVD. I only bought it because it was a requirement to upgrade my system for Vista which I was trying to accomplished to have my computer ready to upgrade to Vista. I was only waiting for all the problems and possibly Service Pack to come out. I really don't need a burner at this time. Thanks Tubesandwires, Jennifer and Jam for your reponses. Have a good holiday.

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