Is my hard drive toast or is this a Vista problem?

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jjproctor

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I hope not, but that's what I fear... Here's my basic scenario.

Last week I started having problems with my laptop detecting usb devices (mainly my iphone and my ipod). The apple mobile device driver would not install. After many troubleshooting attempts, I decided to try a clean install of windows. This worked and solved the problem. For the past few days, countless windows updates have been installing bringing everything up to speed.

Today, the real trouble started. Windows update has been trying to install the Microsoft Office Suite SP3. After the installation begins, a series of errors pop up referencing memory that cannot be found. As quickly as they appear, they disappear and the computer crashes and goes to a screen that says no bootable hard disk is detected and suggests reseating the hard drive or clicking F1, F5, or F12, for other options. I have seen dwm.exe errors, explorer.exe errors, and something called SysFader errors. Assuming it was hard drive related, since I was working on a recently clean install of windows, I ran check disk. Check disk made it to stage 4 of 5, then shut itself down and went back to the same no bootable disk screen.

Now, I know the hard drive isn't complete toast because I'm working on the computer in question right now. When I do a hard shut down (just pressing the power key till all goes black) then start everything back up, Windows loads just fine. I have a feeling though that functionality at this point is tenuous at best.

All my files/pictures/music are backed up. And for the time being, I've prevented windows update from automatically attempting to install anything. But I certainly don't feel like I can just ignore the fact that sometimes, my hard drive is out to lunch. I'm not sure what to do at this point. I'm terrified of trying to install any more windows updates and wonder if it would be dangerous to try and install anything at this point.

So I'm hoping someone here knows more about this sort of thing than I do.

My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1720 that is 5 years old. Just over 2 years ago, the hard drive failed and we paid to have a local computer repair place replace it. I don't know the specs on the replacement hard drive but I expect I could find out.

My operating system is Windows Vista Home Premium 32 bit, and has been updated to include Service Pack 2.

Help? Please?
 
Joined
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51,988
Try running HDTune. Look under the "Error Scan" tab, uncheck the "quick" option, and then click "Start". If it finds bad sectors, you need a new hard drive. If not, look under the "Health" tab and see if there are any warnings from the drive itself.

More detailed tests (and bootable ones for drives that don't boot) are available from the drive manufacturers.

TachTech
BleepingComputer



It's also possibly a RAM problem.

Memory Testing (including bootable CD's and floppies):

Memtest86
MemScope (Floppy and CD images.)
Roadkil's RAM Test
Microsoft Memory Test (floppy or CD ISO image)

If you have enough memory sticks, you can test them by removing one at a time and see if the problem disappears.

Or if you are running Vista or 7, tap F8 on boot and choose the memory diagnostic. (This is not a bad RAM test, but it is a gross one. If you still don't find anything wrong, try memtest86 overnight. It relocates itself in RAM and tests all areas more thoroughly. Even one error means that RAM is bad. It isn't one of those things where an error from time to time is acceptable.)
 

jjproctor

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Feb 10, 2013
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Hi Elvandil, thanks for your response. Those are all things I feel comfortable checking. But first... Does it change things if just before I logged off the computer last night, I got a pop up message that said Windows had detected a hard drive error and I should start the back up process immediately? Seems like that answers my question? Is it worth still running the tests you suggested? Thanks again for your help.

I'm curious if the hard drive IS toast, what makes a hard drive to fail? The fact that we've already had to replace it once already makes me wonder what we are doing wrong...
 
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welll, hard drives don't like to be dropped. It causes the reading head to scratch the plates.
 
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Run as Administrator, SFC /SCANNOW ... it will identify any corrupt system files, and fix if possible, an will show at end of scan if it found/repaired any corrupted or missing system files.
 

jjproctor

Thread Starter
Joined
Feb 10, 2013
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Thank you everyone. The laptop hasn't been dropped, actually remains pretty stationary, but it appears to be the hard drive just the same. I ran HD Tune and have found several bad sectors, so a new hard drive has been ordered. I appreciate everyone's help and advice.
 
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HDTune is not the best tool in the world and may miss minor problems. But it doesn't lie, either. Good luck.

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