Solved Hard Drive Shows Bad Sectors On One Computer But Not Another

Dell / LATITUDE E6400
January 4, 2014 at 14:11:50
Specs: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6 GHz / 4 GB DDR2
Please ignore the specs above^^

Hey all,
I have a Dell Dimension 4700 that I have been trying to reload the OS onto, but have unsuccessful. When I wiped the original drive that was in the computer with Darik's Boot and Nuke, it reported over 200 errors during the process, so I assumed that the drive was bad. I switched it out with another hard drive, and attempted to wipe it. Again, I got many errors during the wiping process. A third, and a fourth drive reported errors as well. Note that these drives were all different ages, capacities, and made by different manufacturers.

Since all 4 drives reported errors, I came to the conclusion that there is probably something wrong with the computer, not the drives. I took one of the drives (all of the drives are SATA, fyi) and put it into a Dell Optiplex GX620. I booted from the Darik's Boot and Nuke CD, and attempted to wipe the drive, and it wiped successfully with zero errors.

So now I come here with the question, does anyone know what the problem could be with the Dimension computer? I highly doubt it's the drives since one wiped successfully on a different machine, so I think it has to be something with the computer. Thanks in advance,
RMT2

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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✔ Best Answer
January 18, 2014 at 14:54:06
mmm true - if the short pass was OK - reasonable to presume the drive is OK… Which puts you back to a problem within the Dell itself - possibly the controller?

Having run DBAN does mean all data/files on the drive - are no more…; so one hopes you managed to save anything critical beforehand…?

I would try to borrow a known to be good/OK controller card for the desktop and see if it resolves the problems?

In the days of Compu$a one could nip down there, "buy" an item (to test ) and if it wasn't needed - return it a day os so later with no problems… No so easy to do that nowadays...



#1
January 4, 2014 at 15:01:35
Have you tried to reset the BIOS settings of the Dell Dimension 4700 to factory default settings and gave it another try?

Maybe you have played around with some settings, e.g. overclocking.


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#2
January 4, 2014 at 15:25:35
Replace the data cable and if that doesn't resolve the issue try a different SATA header on the motherboard

Goin' Fishin' (Some day)


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#3
January 4, 2014 at 15:25:47
Thanks for the response. I reset the BIOS settings, but I am still getting errors. This machine doesn't support overclocking so that wouldn't be an issue here.

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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Related Solutions

#4
January 4, 2014 at 15:32:36
As Richard59 stated, data cable might be the culprit.

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#5
January 4, 2014 at 15:43:04
Do both machines show the drive(s) as having the same disk geometry (cylinders/heads/sectors)?

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."


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#6
January 4, 2014 at 15:43:17
Have you tested the RAM in the Dimension 4700 with memtest86?

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#7
January 4, 2014 at 17:42:10
@Richard59: A different data cable gave the same result.

@T-R-A: What program can I use to find that info? The BIOS doesn't display it.

@riider: Booting from a memtest86 CD just results in a blank blue screen. Could that indicate that the memory is bad or is something else wrong?

Thanks all for the help,
RMT2

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#8
January 4, 2014 at 20:53:13
"@T-R-A: What program can I use to find that info? The BIOS doesn't display it."

If you're having trouble getting the drive to format properly on one of the machines, then installing an OS would likely be fruitless (thus any program you tried to install would also be). Years ago there used to be an old program called "romtable", that would work on a bootable floppy to indicate what the BIOS's drive parameters were and which drive geometry the machine was using. I suspect the machine you have likely doesn't have a floppy disk drive, and if the drives are SATA, then their capacity would also be beyond the capacity of that ancient program. A Google search also turned-up nothing referring to it as well...

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

message edited by T-R-A


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#9
January 4, 2014 at 22:09:49
I can check on the drive label in the morning, I may be able to find at least the correct specifications. The 4700 does have a floppy drive (and I have disks) if we can find a program to use.

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#10
January 5, 2014 at 02:05:18
As mentioned, bad ram seems likely.

Also wondering if the sata controllers in the two computers have different transfer rates and the Darik's disk is having problems with the one in the 4700.


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#11
January 5, 2014 at 04:22:22
Does sound much like a RAM issue..

Possibly a cleaning job will resolve it...

Power down fully (if the 4700 is a laptop remove battery as well; don't want "any" volts running around inside at this time...). Remove each RAM stick - note which is where before you start... Clean the contacts on each stick with a soft pencil style eraser (nothing abrasive). Replace to where they were before; perhaps (a recent further step from Derek I think it was) insert/remove each stick a couple of times so as to clean to some degree the actual slot contacts too. Power up and see what happens?

If things are still as now, reduce RAM installed to a single stick, and trying/testing each in turn to see if that changes anything. If problem disappears with one stick, but is there with another... You have a duff/dodgy RAM stick; the one that does not produce the fault/condition is logically OK... Which if so, renew the faulty stick?


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#12
January 5, 2014 at 08:59:07
@DAVEINCAPS: I have been able to wipe other 4700s with the boot disk so I don't think the controller is a problem.

@trvlr: This is a desktop. There are 4 RAM slots, only 2 are occupied right now. When I cleaned the 2 modules and put them back in, the computer wouldn't boot and the diagnostic lights indicates a memory failure. I took out one of the modules, and it booted, however memtest86 still will not start, same blue screen. I tried moving that one module between the 4 slots, the system booted every time, but still memtest wouldn't work. Should I just plan on replacing the RAM or should I continue diagnosing it?

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#13
January 5, 2014 at 09:45:51
mmm - Any prospect of borrowing a known to be good single stick - to test out the system?

Also when inserting RAM, it's easy not to get it fully inserted into its slot; and thus you get error messages etc… Might be wise to try again with each stick and ensure it is in fully/securely inserted?

It does seem still to point to RAM overall - whatever/however…?


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#14
January 5, 2014 at 16:15:46
Both sticks snapped in (you could hear the click) after I cleaned them. I do have extra RAM that I pulled from other machines that I'll test.

I put in a different stick that came from another computer, and I still got a blue screen. I enabled debugging on memtest, and it gets to 403 scan_rsdp0 before freezing, although a Google search doesn't turn up any results at to what it means.

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#15
January 5, 2014 at 16:16:39
"memtest86 still will not start"

Is it a 'known to be good' copy of memtest86? Have you booted the disk on others systems & confirmed it's good?


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#16
January 6, 2014 at 02:53:32
Something else to try as well; more in the way of isolating/eliminating " most" of the Dell hardware.

Boot the system with a Linux disk; Ubuntu being the usual favourite. Can be downloaded (a freebie), saved to hard drive, burn to a dvd, and then boot with that dvd.

It will (if successful) load into RAM. If it does that ok and you can in effect use the installation to "see" the hard drive as is..., then it more or less puts RAM out of the discussion.

Which has me pondering a little about the hdd controller itself, which premably is an on-board one? Whether or not it is built-in... can you borrow (beg - or "otherwise" obtain) a plug-in card and test the system using that?

The only other items that come to mind after the above "possibles" are the on- board cache chip(s) and even the cpu itself; and I do put those low-ish on the list... Presumably this desktop hasn't run overly warm at any time? And one other item... The power-supply "might be playing up"? Unstable volts out as/when it feels to? A voltmeter "might" tell you a little about how the psu is faring - especially when the error message(s) pop up. A substitue psu would also be a useful test too if he psu is to be considered...?


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#17
January 6, 2014 at 05:22:42
Also, most Linux discs have memtest as one of the boot options.

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#18
January 8, 2014 at 19:57:27
Hey all, sorry I haven't been on here as much, school has started again and I don't have much spare time on my hands. I'll try your advice this weekend when I have a few extra hours. Thanks again!

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#19
January 12, 2014 at 12:32:41
@riider: I tried putting the same memtest CD into a Dell Latitude D610, and it booted fine and did not freeze.

@riider and trvlr: I put in an Ubuntu 12.04 CD, and it did boot to the desktop, although it did take a good 10 minutes off of the CD (this was with the original 2 RAM sticks in totalling to 1 GB of RAM). I do have 1 add-in SATA card, but it is RAID-based and I have no clue whether it will work properly because I've never used it before and I got it second-hand from one of my local IT friends here in town.

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#20
January 12, 2014 at 14:26:16
mmm.. An easier way may be to get a sata to usb adapter? Either a dock, or an adapter cable connect system. Either will make it easy to access it and copy files etc.

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#21
January 18, 2014 at 14:39:46
@trvlr: I tried connecting one of the hard drives through a USB SATA adapter, and running DBAN on DoD Short Mode, it completed one pass successfully with no errors, however it says 9 hours remaining and I don't have the time to keep it running, so I'd assume it is working fine with the USB adapter since it already completed one pass fine.

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#22
January 18, 2014 at 14:54:06
✔ Best Answer
mmm true - if the short pass was OK - reasonable to presume the drive is OK… Which puts you back to a problem within the Dell itself - possibly the controller?

Having run DBAN does mean all data/files on the drive - are no more…; so one hopes you managed to save anything critical beforehand…?

I would try to borrow a known to be good/OK controller card for the desktop and see if it resolves the problems?

In the days of Compu$a one could nip down there, "buy" an item (to test ) and if it wasn't needed - return it a day os so later with no problems… No so easy to do that nowadays...


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#23
January 18, 2014 at 15:38:17
All of these drives were extras in my inventory, none of them had any important data on them. And I'll be able to talk to one of my friends in the IT field tonight, I can see if I can get a card off of him. I may stop diagnosing this machine if I can't get the integrated controller to work, I was merely going to sell the machine online after I fixed it all up and I might as well spend more time on other machines I have with more value than trying to fix this one. I'll let you know on the extra controller card. Thanks for all of your help!

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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#24
January 27, 2014 at 18:22:33
I'm just going to mark this thread as solved; I don't have additional time to put into this machine. I don't have access to another controller card right now. I'm just gonna scrap it for parts, I have 50 other computers that I need to work on and sell at some point. Thanks for all of your help everyone!

You've been helped by a 16 year old.


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