PSU causing HDD to fail?

September 2, 2009 at 11:40:53
Specs: WinXPHome, 2GB

I have an ongoing computer issue for a computer I built for a guy. His computer worked right out of the box installed Vista on it. He liked it a lot. Then about 2 or 3 months later his computer slowed down and randomly froze. So I looked at the Event Logs and say multiple ‘disk error’ and the like. So I thought bad hard drive. I have come across them in older machines but never a new one especially a name brand one like WD or Seagate I think it was, but I thought well it must happen to the best.

So I replaced the HDD and installed Vista back on his machine. Then about 1 or 2 months later it started to act up again. Same issues as before. This time through the user notes his machine was plugged into the wall during a thunderstorm and they lost power knocking all power out. After the power outage the machine kept rebooting. Eventually one of the reboots stick and I am able to get into Windows and view the Event Viewer. Once again the HDD has errors all over the place. The HDD was going even before the power outage and probably had no impact on the machine just a matter of time…

I then had user take his PC to a local PC shop to see if they could explain the freezes- take a different pair eyes then my own. They come back with ‘loose wire’ not telling the user what wire or anything that may help isolate the issue. I was hoping they could run a voltage meter test on the PSU to see if it had power spikes /dips. I cannot confirm if they did this or not. Let’s assume they did not.

So my next plan of action is to try an ‘old’ but working/good PSU I have laying around and RMA old HDD and install new one.

So has anyone even seen a PSU destroy HDD? I assume the PSU eventually ‘killed’ HDD over a 1-2 month times periods until the point where the user began to see an impact. HDD that are bad are very rare, HDD that are bad twice in a row is next to impossible. So I am under the impression it was a bad PSU (Thermaltake) to begin with. It could also be the main board (BioStar) but I do not see how that is possible but would like to leave it as an option. Is this a good plan of action? Anything I am overlooking?

Thanks for any comments/questions on this matter.

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September 2, 2009 at 11:45:24
Yes cheap PSU are known to kill HDDs.


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September 2, 2009 at 11:52:58
I've seen a 'weak' (PSU under powered for the system) power supply cause clicking. Which you might know is heard when the heads retract and re-position because of a read failure.

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September 2, 2009 at 12:02:28
Wow. Thanks for the rapid response.

PSU was ~$100 a lot for the $450 price tag on the box. PSU had a 500W/24amp on 12V line or something for 5200 AMD chip, no external GPU> basically it had enough power. I never buy cheap PSU this one was even modular based. (My $900 box does not even have a modular PSU...) Through this does not mean a bad one can not occur.

RMA HDD is shipping today so at least 2 weeks before I can post back.

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September 2, 2009 at 13:17:31
With this user you might also consider a UPS for power control. If the area the user lives has random outages or other power problems using a power strip does not add enough protection for systems. I have customers that if power is a problem I recommend a UPS. With 40 years electronics experience I have seen many failures due to power surges.

My home systems have UPS's installed and I have not experienced any hardware problems with either power supplies or other internal parts. I live in the Pacific Northwest and in areas that suffer from major outages, blackouts and brownouts.

I know that my preferences are personal, but from what I have seen I believe that a good power control system is worth the money, consider that server rooms and business systems use them for a reason, constant uptime and minimum failures.


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