Seagate HDD crashing the system, revisited

Shuttle / Mv42
January 10, 2011 at 13:55:33
Specs: Win2000, SP4, 1.8 GHz P4/1Gig DDR
I posted this originally here:

Now I have more information.

Using a Shuttle motherboard, MV42N, I added (2nd drive) this 160 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 HDD. I checked and LBA is on in BIOS, and the board is reading the drive correctly.

Using "AMI BIOS 7.00T".

Every time I access the new drive for any length of time, it eventually crashes the system suddenly, turning it off. It used to just stop, or freeze in the middle of a video file (movie) and I'd have to restart, and usually ended up with no sound until I restarted again. Then once we tried uploading 50 Gigs of data from another computer to the drive, for storage, and it kept quitting the upload, and we'd have to restart where we left off. I thought maybe it had a problem with power management scenarios, going into sleep or standby, but I don't know now, since it flat out shuts off the computer now when it wants to.

I downloaded Seatools, and ran the DOS test off a floppy, and the drive failed the tests, both short and long. During the long test, it found 95 sector errors, and I asked it to repair. Afterwards, the drive passed.

I did a full virus scan on the drive, in Avast, and it came up clean.

Around five hours after passing the Seatools test, I was entering the room, and the computer shut down on its own again. I threw the Seatools boot floppy back into its slot and tried to boot to it, unsuccessfully. The fans came on, but no beeps. I did a hard shutdown and started again, and this time got three long beeps, repeating indefinitely. I decided to reseat the floppy, just in case it was the problem, and it booted this time to the floppy, and ran the long test again on the drive in question. This time, two errors, which I chose to repair, and then a passing score again.

Now I realize that this probably means that the drive is failing, and I need to move data to another drive before it fails completely. But what do the three long beeps mean? AMI BIOS beep codes, googled, seem to indicate 3 beeps (short?) as a problem with the first 64K of memory, and "continuing" beeps (3?) as either video or memory problems. Then again, it could have just been the floppy not seated in its drive, or could it? It's not clear to me, since there is seemingly no direct reference to "three long beeps, repeated indefinitely" in any of the beep code lists I've found.

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January 11, 2011 at 13:24:29
At this point I would suspect your power supply. I didn't review the original thread, which you should have stayed with, BTW.

Use SIW to monitor the PSU voltages for +12v, 5V & 3.3V. Should be within about 5% of rated voltage.

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January 11, 2011 at 15:07:02
Thanks for the help OtheHill, I'll look into the power supply being suspect, using SIW. A lot of what I use, including the drive in question and the power supply, are pieces of equipment from my son's shop, which may or may not have been previously used, and therefore of questionable quality. The P.S. does appear good, but I don't know. I did notice, when I took the drives out to get a visual and write down the labeling information, that one of the 5V supply connectors seemed to be suspect, since the pin on the drive was able to push it right out of the connector as I was attempting to connect the two. I had to push on the wire itself to get it to work.

As I'm writing this, I'm also noticing something visual on the monitor. It seems like sudden, spontaneous flashes of brightness in the center of the screen, a single vertical line, like the monitor or something related is getting some "surges" of some kind. I'm wondering if the monitor or something in the video area of the motherboard is about to fail. It's an old-school big and heavy style monitor,,,oh oh,,it's getting worse,,it's like lightning flashes on the screen. I think I'll complete this post before I crash.

To update you on what the 2nd drive is doing, it seems that it's working, since the last shutdown, and seemingly stable for the moment. I watched 45 minutes of an avi file last night without any problem. It wouldn't have done that before the repairs.

I'm also going to try reseating the memory chips, which I believe I was very cautious to seat properly, but may be a problem, since three long beeps seems to (to some, from reading extensively) indicate a memory chip problem. Someone said to reseat them 5 or 6 times, and I, having been an electrician, know how contact corrosion can be frequently a factor in things.

Finally, I'm new to this site, and for that matter, to this kind of forum, for getting technical help. I did not know that it would have been better to have continued with a thread that was already 30-some posts long, and in that, one of, if not the longest thread in this category. Where would I find such a directive? Is there a preliminary site introduction thread that would have given me that? Or is that a kind of unwritten rule?

At your suggestion, lacking any other input, I will follow your guideline in the future, no matter the length of the thread.

Thank You

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January 11, 2011 at 15:33:46
There is a thread that I have posted in just last week that is over 100 at this time.

The reason for continuing with a thread has to do with helpers wanting to look back at prior responses. At least that is an issue with me.

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Related Solutions

January 11, 2011 at 15:52:39
I see the logic.

I guess I'm just a bit timid. I don't wish to wear out my welcome here, with lengthy threads. I have a tendency to get a bit long-winded with my descriptions, in the name of thoroughness of disclosure and transparency. This tends to annoy my eldest son, who has his own IT business. He's very terse, and demands directness and brevity, in the name of time-efficiency. Otherwise I wouldn't be coming here as much for advice.

I think he's glad I found this site.

I'm hungry to learn. I want, eventually, to become helpful also, as I'm able. I can articulate things well (IMO), and am fairly precise, meticulous even, and tend to be patiently persistent in offering suggestions.

Again, I appreciate your investment in time here.

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January 11, 2011 at 19:14:06
Don't worry about providing too much info. Better than providing none.

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January 11, 2011 at 20:34:47
Okay,,more info is good,,got it.

Not the first time I've seen the monitor do strange things. It's a CTX, 17", the old style that Mafia soldiers use when throwing people overboard, to keep them from floating to the surface. At times it has been "wiggly" around the edges, but every so often it recently has had "seizures" or those flashes I had mentioned. Who knows, maybe it's also getting to the end of its life. It seems to have stabilized since the flashing earlier this evening. I turned it off, then turned it back on soon afterward, and did a "degauss" on it, though I'm not sure what that does. I wonder if there are issues with spiking from the power supply that could affect the monitor or other parts of the system, making it crash every so often.

I wasn't able to find the part of SIW that refers to the power supply yet, but I'll look for that next.

but still,,the computer was running stable for a looooong time before I put this Seagate Barracuda 160GB in as a second drive. It wasn't until this drive got involved in the system that the spontaneous shutdowns, freezes, etc. began.

but the Seatools DOS diagnostic floppy disk helped, in that I could at least boot to it successfully, and it found 95 errors on the drive in the first long test, all of which it "repaired", whatever that means. But it did crash once more, and wouldn't boot at first, even to the floppy, until I re-inserted the floppy. I don't know if that is what helped it boot or not, but it did boot, nevertheless, and found 2 more errors on another long test, after which it's been stable, even able to run avi files for a length of time. It could very well be that it's not the problem anymore, or that there are a number of problems suddenly showing up, just co-incidentally.

And I still don't know what caused the "three long beeps, repeating" the last time boot failed. The BIOS information sites I've checked don't list any AMI BIOS codes with 3 long beeps.

Next step on my end,,just for good measure,,I'm taking out my two DDR chips and re-seating them a few times. I think I'll do that right now, since I have some time on my hands. Here goes nothing,,

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January 12, 2011 at 02:38:54
Okay, I'm wondering if my CMOS battery is low, and if that is causing the shutdowns.

In SIW, under Hardware/Sensors/Voltages, it says "VBAT 2.03 V". That sounds low to me.


Reads: "Watch for unexpected computer shut down or invalid hardware errors. Another function of the CMOS is to retain settings for your system's hardware, such as hard drives and RAM. If these stored settings are not available during operation, it can cause the computer system to unexpectedly shut off."

and,, "Most new CMOS batteries produce 3 volts. When this voltage drops below 2.5, depending on the system, problems can appear.

Think I'll replace the battery.

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January 12, 2011 at 06:38:03
The battery is only important when power is removed from the motherboard. If the settings are being retained in the CMOS then the battery is still doing its job.

Boot into the BIOS screens and see if the date and time are correct. If so, then the battery is still holding the settings. The voltage appears to be lower than specs so replacing the battery is in order but don't expect any change in performance.

I found a link below that indicates 3 long beeps may be related to a keyboard error.

If you have an option in your BIOS screens to halt on all errors, enable it in order to determine what may be going on.

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