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Have a computer that took over an hour to bootup and this was after a defrag and security scans. Could this be a sign the drive is dieing even if it is making no sounds?

How can I check to see if the hard drive is the cause? Should I just reinstall Windows?

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The answer to all your questions is Yes –  Ramhound May 15 '12 at 14:24
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@Ramhound - Even "How can I check to see if the hard drive is the cause"? –  Polynomial May 15 '12 at 14:24
    
test the hard drive using the manufacturers utility....h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Notebook-Lockups-Freezes-Hangs/… –  Moab May 15 '12 at 16:19
    
Does it always take that long? How about in Safe Mode? Did you check the event Logs in Computer Management? (Right Click over My Computer and select "Manage" and goto System Tools/Event Viewer/Application or System. Look for Errors/Warnings, timeouts and device failures etc... hd/page errors will show up there –  Logman May 15 '12 at 16:27
    
Yes, it always takes that long. Not tried safe mode. –  Rachel Nark May 15 '12 at 19:47
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sounds like you have a huge number of boot processes, rather than a disk issue.

You could clean the whole lot out with a tool like Autoruns, but if it's taking a whole hour to boot I'd guess the system is beyond repair. It's probably quicker to do a re-install of Windows instead.

If you want to check the health of your disk, you should see if your motherboard's disk controller supports S.M.A.R.T, which can tell you a huge amount of information about the health of the drive. There are a large number of free tools to interrogate S.M.A.R.T, so a quick Google search should do the job!

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ATA or S-ATA controllers do not need any special support for S.M.A.R.T., only the drives do. But unless the drive is way older than Windows XP, S.M.A.R.T. support will be there. –  Gurken Papst May 15 '12 at 18:37
    
@GurkenPapst Whilst it's true that most ATA and SATA controllers do support S.M.A.R.T, they do actually require special support to enable hard disks to produce accurate (or even correct) results. Since the specifications are loose and many manufacturers include extensions or alterations, certain combinations of software, disks and controllers will not correctly handle S.M.A.R.T. –  Polynomial May 15 '12 at 19:45
    
What tools do you use to access SMART data and what am I looking for? –  Rachel Nark May 15 '12 at 19:47
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Wikipedia has a nice comparison of S.M.A.R.T. tools here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_S.M.A.R.T._tools –  Polynomial May 15 '12 at 19:50
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In terms of what to look for in a failing drive, most software will give you an indication of what's good or bad. You can also check this other great Wikipedia article for a list of attributes, with those that indicate drive failure highlighted: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.M.A.R.T#Known_ATA_S.M.A.R.T._attributes –  Polynomial May 15 '12 at 19:52
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Could this be a sign the drive is dieing even if it is making no sounds?

A hard drive making sounds is not the only sign of a failing hard drive. In some cases, failure will occur at the mainboard... the small printed circuit board attached to the bottom of the drive... which can make the drive just cease to operate. No warning signs, no warning sounds... nothing. Just letting you know that a clicking drive is just one symptom out of many. Not every drive will tell you ahead of time with an audible sound that it is failing.

How can I check to see if the hard drive is the cause?

Among other things, you could run Chkdsk on the drive. It is a utility that is included with Windows. Open up My Computer. Right click on the main drive that you just defragged. Choose Properties. Click the Tools tab. See that Error checking section at the top? Click that button there that says "Check Now..." and put a check mark in both boxes of the little window that pops up. The computer won't be able to check it immediately, it will have to restart and run the program then. Let it do just that. If there are bad sectors and issues with the surface of the drive, it will attempt to repair them, and then provide a report at the end of what it found.

If you are not around when it finishes, you can view this report in the Event Viewer, as a Winlogon entry. Right click on My Computer, choose Manage, expand the Event Viewer, then the Application listing. The Chkdsk log will be listed as having a WinLogin source, and it should be one of the most recent entries in the list.

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