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I am running into a problem where my computer will occasionally restart itself (No BSD) and during the boot up it won't detect the hard drive. Usually turning the computer off and then back on will resolve the issue (temporarily).

The hard drive is connected via an IDE cable. The DVD player is connected via IDE and it is always detected. I have tried switching the DVD/HD IDE cable, but the problem persists.

Has anyone else experienced a similar problem? I think it is the hard drive (maybe the motherboard), but before I try and find/buy an old hard drive I would like to get some feedback.

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Does this occur with all HD in that position, or just this one? –  soandos Aug 2 '11 at 16:58
    
If it restarts itself then you have BSOD anyway. It's just not shown. Enable it in Windows as default behavior is reboot on BSOD. –  MadBoy Aug 2 '11 at 16:59
    
@soandos - I don't have any other HD to test –  Aducci Aug 2 '11 at 16:59
    
Cant test it, but I would assume its the HD. @MadBoy, I don't think he gets to windows, or that its restarting itself. –  soandos Aug 2 '11 at 17:02
    
I can get to windows, but after a period of time, anywhere from a few minutes to all day, it will restart and the bootup wont be able to detect the HD –  Aducci Aug 2 '11 at 17:03
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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've had almost exactly the same problem with a HDD that was starting to fail. From what I could tell the drive was either choking on a bad sector or overheating and as a consequence it appeared to Windows that the system drive had vanished which caused it to crash and restart. In my case I do not believe a BSOD was shown because there was no way for it to access the hard drive to a) perform a crash dump or b) access the page file in order to read whatever was there to even begin the crash dump procedure.

After the restart the drive would not appear until I completely cut the power and restarted.

Replacing the drive completely fixed the problem for me, but as always it is a possibility that something else is causing it.

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Below is my list of tips and suggestions. I've arranged them in the order I'd personally approach this. Hope it helps.

Cabling:

What you're describing could be a cabling problem. You said the drive eventually conks out and reboots don't seem to help, but complete resets do. I can imagine this behavior could occur if you have a seldom-used pin on your IDE cable that's faulty. Or a pin that only temporarily fails under certain thermal conditions. I can also imagine this being many other things, but IDE cables are often easy/cheap to replace. You may even be able to use the one from your CD drive, just for testing. It may well not be this, but if it ends up being this, you'd obviously kick yourself for not trying this early on.

SMART status:

You should find a program that can give you the SMART status report on your drive. I live mostly on Linux and I like to use one called "gsmartmon" for this. You can perform SMART tests to get more evidence of the health state of the drive. Some BIOSes may even have a UI for this, not that I've ever actually seen such a BIOS. (Edit: Many drive manufacturers also have their own custom diagnostic tools you can download, you should look in to that too).

Switching IDE ports:

You could also try switching the location on the motherboard your IDE cable connects to (provided you have a separate master & slave connector for IDE drives). It's unlikely, but if there's hardware damage to your motherboard, then you may have a case where as the system heats up, a fault occurs and the drive can't be used. Switching IDE ports on the board doesn't prove or disprove this necessarily, but trying it gives you a tiny bit more info.

Capacitors:

Capacitors can fail in visible ways. It never hurts to check for failed caps.

Power Supply:

It's possible that your power supply is the culprit. If you have a power supply tester, you may want to give that a whirl. You may also want to try to increase the IDE start up delay in BIOS, though that doesn't REALLY sound like what your problem is.

Another drive:

As you state, obviously another thing to try is another drive. But as you also said, that costs. So I suggest you try the above first, obviously.

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Most likely the electronics of hard-drive is dieing. If DVD player is always visible and you have tried other IDE cable or order of devices on the cable then it must be HDD.

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Your testing methods were excellent: Sounds like the HD. Backup any data you can ASAP, and then replace it.

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