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I have a desktop with 3 hard drives: one for the OS, two for data. The system would not boot today. I disconnected and tested until I found that if I disconnect one of the two data drives, the system will start properly, although it complains about items installed on that data drive.

Does this mean the drive is dead? How can I diagnose this? I have never had a hard drive fail before.

This is an HP Pavillion. The drive is Seagate Barracuda, 7200.11 750 GB.

Edit: my situation is identical to this post: Computer hangs at BIOS screen. Cannot enter setup

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migrated from serverfault.com Feb 14 '12 at 9:04

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2 Answers

Does the drive spin up when you power on the computer? You may wish to try swapping cables between the data drives, or even rotating cables among all three drives.

If no cable configuration works, proceed to testing the drive in another computer (or try using an external hard drive casing). At any point if you gain access to the drive, quickly make a backup of important data from it.

If the data is important but the drive is completely dead and you don't have any backup, consider Sirex' tip or consider using data recovery services.

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It does spin up, but as long as it is connected, the rest of the system will not start at all. It gets start in the BIOS message right after RAM is verified, but before the disks are discovered. –  Daniel Williams Feb 14 '12 at 15:28
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Please indicate if you've tried swapping/rotating disks among the available SATA/IDE ports (and their cables). This is to ensure that the problem is with your hard disk and not a faulty port or cable. (In other words, does another hard disk work fine when you connect it to the cable/port that the non-working hard disk is currently connected to? And vice versa.) –  ADTC Feb 14 '12 at 15:37
    
Yes, I swapped the connections, and on every connection that drive consistently caused the boot to fail. –  Daniel Williams Feb 15 '12 at 3:21
    
Try on a different computer or with an external casing. The casing will probably allow the system to boot, and you can even plug in the casing after the system has already booted. –  ADTC Feb 15 '12 at 5:43
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My guess would be yes, the drive is dead. you may be able to swap the circuit board out for an identical one, but far easier is restore from backups and grab a new drive.

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Backups? I don't need no stinkin' backups. Er, well, maybe I should have backed this one up, darnit. –  Daniel Williams Feb 14 '12 at 15:34
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