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I've Sony VAIO laptop (model VPCEA23EL). Mostly I use it for internet usage and as an entertainment system, sometime for minor programming (No DB or No VM are installed). I do keep it on for 24 X 7 many time without even restarting for 3/4 days on AC power to download stuff. Many time due to power trip it goes down (It happened a lot time).

Now today while I was surfing on net, suddenly it went dead with Minor tick sound (I was able to listen it as it was morning time ;) ). After that I tried to start it again but it failed for 3/4 try and than it started. but it last for only 20/30 seconds and than again no response for next 10 seconds. I tried same way for 5 cycle (with battery/AC power, only AC power, only Battery). Than I tried Ubuntu Live CD and it worked fine.

So I Googled for the problem, but no explanatory answers were found. One possible answer was that might be possible due to the failure of fan, CPU goes overheat and it goes dead, but it wasn't the issue in my case because Ubuntu was working fine.

Hence I went to the customer care, And described the problem to their technical person. He said that due to Click sound while it's going dead it may be a problem of Hard disk drive. He told me keep ear near to the hard disk section and I was able to listen the irregular sound from the HDD. So their primary diagnosis was the Bad sectors in HDD due to which head was making noise and ultimately it is failing to load the OS, but they were not sure. They suggested me to take the back up of the data and than to give for repairing.

Now what I am thinking is first to take the backup running the live CD and than try to repair the HDD ( by blocking the Bad sectors).

My questions are :

  • 1) Is it the problem of HDD ?
  • 2) If so than what would be the best course of action to repair the HDD in order to not to replace. (I am thinking of using the Ubuntu on CD tools to repair bad sectors).

Please suggest.

***** EDIT *****

I've tried to start the laptop last night for taking the full system backup and it worked without any problem. So I copied all the important data to my external drive. After that I tried the Windows check disk functionality on C: drive but it showed the clean report.

To double check whether it's not a problem of HDD, I downloaded the tool DRevitalize which checks for the bad sectors in HDD and trys to repoir it. I ran the tool for entire hard disk (It ran for around 5 hours), Report shows only two bad sectors in Hard disk as we can see in the below image.

Hard disk report

Plus laptop worked fine for whole night (8PM - 6:30AM) continuously without any single unexpected shut. Any suggestions ?

* EDIT *

I've consulted the technisian at Sony care, according to their in deapth diagnosis it was the issue of overheating. Processor was getting higher heatand that was causing the sudden failure. I'vent tested the laptop yet, but editing the question for the reference of others. Will put the answere once I got my hands on my machine.

  • Take the drive out, slave it another machine and then run a SMART tool and see. However, this could also be a driver issue. Boot up Windows 7 in safe mode and see if the same issues continue. – Dave Apr 1 '14 at 9:17
  • @DaveRook : I don't have toolkit to remove the HDD. I am asking about doing the stuff while HDD is within the laptop. Is it possible due to HDD bad sectors such thing can happen ? – IT ppl Apr 1 '14 at 9:26
  • @DaveRook : It worked fine last night for around 11 hours without any unexpected failure. Please see the updated question. – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 7:29
  • Right - based upon that, back up your machine as a precaution. – Dave Apr 2 '14 at 7:38
  • I've done with back up. But confuse about the cause of unexpected failure. any suggestion ? – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 7:39
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There is no way with any certainty to know the hard drive has failed simply by you describing it here. You need to run some diagnostics.

Sony VAIO computers have a diagnostic utility on-board. You can start it from within Windows or by pressing F10 on boot. I'd suggest using the later in order to rule out any Windows issues. If all hardware diagnostics are good, then you have to look at Windows.

If the software is no longer on your laptop, it can be downloaded at the Sony VAIO support site.

This utility installs the originally shipped version of the VAIO Care software including the following components:

VAIO Care version 5.0.3.11130
VAIO Hardware Diagnostics version 3.9.1.091009.0
VAIO Location Utility version 1.1.00.06060

This VAIO Care™ Software is specific to your model. Click VAIO Care to expand the selection, then choose the last one.

This should get you headed in the right direction. Of course, backing up your data is always a good idea.

  • Sony E series don't have Diagnostic facility, it have only control center. So I checked it with Windows disk check utility and DRevitalize tool. Please see the updated question and suggest. – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 7:32
  • Did you try F10 on boot? I had to use the information given and would have looked up your specific model had you provided the actual model number. "E series" is not a look up option on the Sony Support site. – CharlieRB Apr 2 '14 at 11:16
  • Sorry Charlie it is VPCEA23 model. I'll try F10 option and other SMART tools to diagnose. Will update once I ran the tools. – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 11:26
  • Is there a suffix on that model number? All the VPCEA23 models have suffixes which would help with specific troubleshooting. – CharlieRB Apr 2 '14 at 12:02
  • Yes it's EL. VPCEA23EL – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 12:04
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Your hard disk is about to die. If a hard disk starts making clicking noises it is very much near the end.

It is true that drives can relocate sectors when they go bad, this is part of the normal operation of a drive. But if you hear clicking... then it's time to buy a new one.

I advise you to get your important files of the disk as soon as possible.

  1. Copy your most important pesonal files to a usb stick, dropbox

  2. if you have a equal or larger external usb hard disk you can rescue the entire drive with clonezilla:

    download Clonezilla and burn to cdrom or make a bootable usb stick (instructions are on Clonezilla site http://clonezilla.org/

  3. Wipe the drive (if you can) with http://www.dban.org/ and throw the drive in the bin. Do not put any important data on it!

  4. If you can't read the drive any more, and you must have your data back, google Spinrite. it's a 90USD, its a low level recovery tool, no garantees, but I have had success in the past with this tools with disks that were not ever recognized by the OS anymore.

Good luck.

  • It worked fine last night for around 11 hours without any unexpected failure. Please see the updated question and suggest if any. – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 7:30
  • If I was you, I would not trust this disk anymore, so treat it like you would treat any company or thing you don't trust: use it until it fails you, but don't trust it with your life's work. Due to a hard disk's (un)fortunate ability to relocate bad sectors , predicting hard disk failures is a bit like predicting earth quakes: you can talk and talk about statistical data, probability and how it has never happened to you in the past, but that does not mean you should ignore warnings. (I live in an earth quake zone and I assure you I have lot's of spare toilet paper hidden under the stairs ;-) – Thijs Apr 3 '14 at 4:56
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I think you need to run a SMART tool to see the health of the hard drive.

Bad sectors are normal and I don't think this is conclusive.

If you do a Google search for SMART tool or S.M.A.R.T tool you'll find lots of options, and there are many free versions.

Now, I know your question states you don't want to get a new one, but, if the hard drive has very low health (for example 10%), then you really don't have a choice :( The only thing you could do is to continue with the issues you have but it would only be a matter of time (IMO) until it dies completely any way!

I think the Acronis SMART drive monitor recommends a health of 70%+... I've had a few hard drives drop below 70% and the OS would stop recognising them etc. You've already taken a back up, you may want to consider taking an image of the entire disc so you keep all your programs as well as files.

The SMART tool mentioned above will also provide warnings about heat issues

UPDATE

As per your new comments, the issue is clearly overheating since the SMART tool shows you a high temperature of 47°C.

You need to also check your CPU temperature as well

You must ensure your PC has a good airflow, good quality fans and that the vents are clean and clear... Tricky with a laptop but, you can buy fans which sit under the laptop that blow / suck air and increase the air flow.

  • Tool suggested by you is a good utility to have on every machine. The tool shows Disk health at 83% for the disk. Any suggestion ? – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 19:44
  • At this stage, I would consider safe mode. It will be awful to work in it but will be good to know if it still shuts down. – Dave Apr 2 '14 at 21:06
  • Dave please go through the comments I've posted under charlie's answer. I tried default diagnostic tool also. (Last two comments) – IT ppl Apr 3 '14 at 3:05
  • Your comment has answered the issue - it's over heating and shutting down! Does your computer have good airflow? I also used techpowerup.com/realtemp to check the temp of the CPUs @ITppl – Dave Apr 3 '14 at 16:57
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In Ubuntu there is a program called disk utility. This can (among other things) show the SMART status for the drive. That should tell you if you are having bad blocks. I currently do data recovery as my job and in my professional opinion, if the drive is bad it is far safer to replace than to repair. To backup your data to an ext. HDD in Termonal

cd <space> /media/<yourdrivelable> 

rsync <space> --progress <space> -ahv <space> Users (any other folders you need separated by spaces) <space> /media/<yourext.drivelable>/backup/ <space> 2>/media/<yourext.drivelable>/backuplog.log

Broken down you are changing to you internal drive hen using RSYNC to copy the Users (and any other folders you specify) to the "backup" folder on you ext. HDD and create a log file "backuplog.log" of any errors. If you have any problems I highly recommend sending the drive to a data recovery company before you do any more damage to drive and potentially loose data.

  • can you please reformat the answer so atleast command that you're asking to run became more readable ? – IT ppl Apr 1 '14 at 9:29
  • I was able to take backup with Windows itself as It worked for me last night. Please see the updated question and suggest. – IT ppl Apr 2 '14 at 7:32

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