We have failures at work on our compact flash drives where the MBR gets corrupted (zeroes written to its Sector 0). The CF cards are industrial grade, but are subject to high vibration/stress environments. It has not been duplicable in our own lab even with a vibe table. I was wondering if there were "common" ways that MBRs get corrupted in order to be replicated in the lab. Thanks.
Most common way to corrupt a CF card is to remove it during a write. To do this with the MBR, you would need to do it while the MBR is being written. In Vista/W7, from a command prompt you can:
Those commands write to the MBR, so you need to pop the card out as soon as you run them.
I think there's little chance of a mechanical problem resulting in exactly a sector of 0's in sector 0.
If I had to bet, I'd bet on a software malfunction, i.e. a failure that causes the sector calculation to end up pointing at 0. Normally the opsys should keep the underlying numbers in a safe location, but something else running at kernel level (e.g. a video driver) could accidentally step on a critical location and cause funky behavior.
Alternatively, I'd consider the possibility that folks have viruses on their boxes.