I took my dad's computer apart and cleaned out all the dust today and now the hard disk doesn't spin up anymore. It's an IDE hard disk and it was working fine before. When I boot up, the BIOS says: No disk found. And then says something like "Insert boot media and press enter" All the necessary cables are in.

I didn't take off the motherboard or take apart the hard drive. I just cleaned out the front cavity of the case, inside the PSU, case fan, CPU fan, and heat sink.

Update 1: Tried the HDD on my mom's computer. It works fine. Then I put it back in my dad's computer and during boot, it seems to spin up. I rebooted a few times with my ears right above the HDD and it sounds like it spins up for a few seconds and then just stops with a little noise

Update 2: Never mind. My mom's PSU is too old. It's missing the 4 pin cord that goes right beside the big 24 or so pin MB cord

Update 3: Now that I think about it. He did call me over a couple days ago to ask me about this weird noise the computer was making. He thought it was the front fan but I thought it was around the PSU but I wasn't sure 'cause there was the case fan, CPU fan and the PSU fan all in the same area. It didn't happen again for a week or so, so I didn't think much of it

  • Are you sure the power cable to the HDD is powered? Also how did you go about cleaning the system? Something that slightly concerns me here is you mentioned you didn't take apart the hard drive. Just to be clear, you do know under no circumstances it should be taken apart. This kind of leads me to wonder how the PSU was cleaned. – Howard Lince III Sep 17 '11 at 21:37
  • I know the HDD shouldn't be opened ever. No dust should be in there. For the cleaning of the PSU, I opened up the casing and lifted up the fan and rubbed the dust off with my fingers. Then I went to my balcony and used a can of compressed air to blow off the dust sitting on top of the components. Then I put it back together – Alex Sep 17 '11 at 21:54
  • Sounds like the PSU is misbehaving, if it works in another computer. Can you swap in a new PSU to test that hypothesis? – e40 Sep 17 '11 at 21:58
  • I could take my mom's PSU for a bit but all the wiring's gonna be a pain. I'll get back to you – Alex Sep 17 '11 at 22:00
  • You say "Tried the HDD on my mom's computer. It works fine" - If you don't have a good backup of important data on your Dad's HDD, now would be a good time to backup that data (to DVD say) using your Mom's computer. – RedGrittyBrick Sep 17 '11 at 23:21

Check the IDE cable and connectors. There may be a pin bent in a connector, or the cable may be offset on the connector. It's also possible for an older cable to develop a short when it's plugged and unplugged. Try a different cable if you have one. And, try a different power supply connector if there is one that is unused. If not, you might be able to try one from the CD drive. It's unlikely to be a motherboard problem, but it is possible.

  • The DVD drive is SATA. No pin is bent. I'm trying a different PSU right now – Alex Sep 17 '11 at 22:04
  • Never mind. My mom's PSU is too old. It's missing a cord (the little 4 pin cord beside the large 24 or so pin cord) – Alex Sep 17 '11 at 22:21

Check and reseat every cable that you may have touched. You could even check that you haven;t damaged any cables (This is unlikely) by using working SATA cables from your Dad;'s PC (if he'll let you ;-)...) I would specifically look at the SATA cables between the drive and MOBO.

I very much doubt your drive is dead. It sounds like a cable. I also think its doubtful your PSU is playing up if its powering on your PC and your PC is not detecting the drive. SOunds more like a cable come loose.

  • The HDD on my dad's computer spins for a few seconds and stops right after the BIOS boot screen appears and shows some RAM amount etc... The DVD is on SATA and the HDD is on IDE 'cause it's a relatively old Maxtor DiamondMax. Yes he would let me touch anything in the computer 'cause I built it. – Alex Sep 17 '11 at 23:09

It's unfortunate, but it looks like it died. You could try leaving it off over night and see if it comes on again, but it's likely the electronics of the drive died in the power cycling.

There are some that believe putting the drive in the freezer (google for it, but be sure no moisture gets to the drive, if you try this!) will bring a dead drive back. If the electronics are dead, this will not work, which is what it sounds like in your case.

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    There's not really enough information here to determine it's dead, or what's wrong, let alone suggesting putting it in the freezer. – Howard Lince III Sep 17 '11 at 21:41
  • No it didn't die. It works fine on my mom's computer – Alex Sep 17 '11 at 21:55
  • Given the information I had at the time, it was the best bet. – e40 Sep 17 '11 at 21:57
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    I think a downvotes a bit harsh. Before the updates it was a reasonable (if extreme) assumption. – Joe Taylor Sep 17 '11 at 22:51
  • @Joe Taylor I think it deserves the downvote, and i'd downvote it myself if it wasn't already downvoted. One should be extremely cautious before declaring something dead. Somebody once declared my grandmother dead, then she came back to life. And of course, trying it in another computer is a must. What I do is put a sticker on a thing if it seems dead, with an estimated probability, until then the stick is just maybe faulty. – barlop Sep 18 '11 at 4:03

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