"Sysem failure Imminent".. but it's been saying this for two weeks!

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Thread Starter
Jan 26, 2003
Okay, I'm on a sony VAIO desktop (model PCV-RX650) running WinXP with a 1.6ghz processor with 512mb of RAM and two hard drives (C and D).

Recently, like in the last two weeks, it's been giving me a warning as I boot up saying, essentially,
"Failure may be imminent. Immediately back up data and replace hard drive." Then you have to press F1 to continue.

I know i'm dumb for not having done what it said immediately, but I can't help but feel like this is some sort of prank. (I've had the "blue screen of death" one pulled on me a few times by various friends.) Before all this I had downloaded a few small programs for personal use that turned out to be "empty". That is, I opened them and a small box popped up and then dissappeared. I ran a full virus scan. Nothing. If it is a fake, then this would be where it came from. But then it might NOT be a fake. Aaargh!

The fact is that it's been showing this error message for nearly two weeks and nothing's happened. Not even a flicker in the system. Everything's running fine. I don't know what on earth would have caused a problem so serious that I would need to get a new hard drive, and not even cause a wrinkle or in the visible OS. I'm running and error-check on both drives as we speak, so maybe that'll come up with something. Why would this happen?

Does anyone have any advice??

Oct 9, 2001
probably not a prank as the warning pops up so early.
found this:

S.M.A.R.T. monitors the disk's performance, bad sectors, calibration, CRC errors, disk spin up time, distance between the head and the disk, temperature, features of medium, heads, motor or servomechanism. In all, over 35 attributes are covered by S.M.A.R.T. When errors for a particular category exceed a threshold defined by S.M.A.R.T., the BIOS or the S.M.A.R.T. application will display a warning message, which might look like this:

WARNING: Immediately back up your data and replace your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminent.

The failure may then be logged in the hard drive's firmware, and return a negative health status to the system. At such a point, it is usually a good idea to check that your drive has not overheated, and to perform an immediate backup.

S.M.A.R.T. Phase-II is a set of extensions to the original S.M.A.R.T. specifications designed to improve failure prediction accuracy. Also known as SMART Off-Line, the failure prediction diagnostics may take several seconds or even minutes to run and therefore should only be initiated when the hard drive is not servicing user I/O requests. There are two different techniques or commands for executing Off-Line Diagnostics. The first technique is "Off-Line Immediate" which starts a single off-line failure prediction diagnostic run in the drive upon command receipt. The second technique is "Off-line" automatic which regularly schedules failure prediction diagnostic to runs at timed intervals when I/O activity to the drive is quiet. Upon completion of any failure prediction diagnostic run, the firmware permanently records updated SMART failure prediction information on the drive. If a user I/O request is received by the device while running an Off-line diagnostic, the diagnostic is terminated within two seconds such that the I/O request may complete in a timely fashion.

S.M.A.R.T. is also known as Predictive Failure Analysis (PFA), which is used in IBM technology, while Compaq, the first to implement this technology, calls it Drive Failure Prediction (DFP).

Note that S.M.A.R.T. can slightly reduce the performance of your hard drive, as well as very occasionally causing strange hard drive problems. However, early warning of failure may well be worth the very minor performance trade off.

All current hard drives from all manufacturers, both IDE and SCSI, feature S.M.A.R.T. support in firmware Activating BIOS Support is generally found in the BIOS under Advanced Configuration or under individual IDE device settings.

you can switch it off in the bios if your sure its a fals alarm...maybe switching it off and then back on will re-set it?

good luck.;)


Retired Moderator
Oct 19, 2002
Personally, I'd make sure my backups are current, because SMART is usually pretty smart. :rolleyes: I've had a couple of hard disk that were dying, and they were dutifully being reported by SMART for weeks before their demise.
Jan 20, 2003
I agree with Johnwill! Don't take a chance. This is no prank - your harddisk WILL fail - just a question of when. As you have a 1.6Ghz CPU, I can only presume that it is a pretty new computer with a guarentee - USE IT! Make sure to take a backup, or at the very least get the service company to copy over the data to the new disk - normally they don't!
Good Luck!
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