2 years ago I bought relatives a new computer for christmas and installed Ubuntu on it. Ever since then it has been experiencing problems with the hard drives. The hard drive supplied with the machine was a SATA drive. When it appeared it was having problems (files and folders with invalid encoding started appearing) I replaced the SATA drive with the drive of their previous computer.

I replaced it (The replacement) later on, the drive being rather old and thus becoming more prone to the risk of failure. The replacement drive is a IDE drive but the same problems started to appear (files and folders showing up in nautilus with invalid encoding).

I fear the files and folders that are showing are existing FS entries, starting to corrupt. As it's happening to both the IDE and SATA drive it's unlikely to be the drives themselves or the IDE/SATA controller, I believe.

Any ideas as to what could be causing the (assumed) corruption?

The system is a "Primo Pro" AMD Phenom II X4 Quad Core 920 2.80GHz SILENT DDR2, ordered from overclockers.co.uk and nothing has been added to it except for the replacement of the SATA drive with an AMD drive. It would seem unlikely for a barebones system to be underpowered.


I'd bet on a faulty PSU. Hard drives are very susceptible to fluctuations in power, IDE drives especially so on the 12V rail.

How old is PSU, what wattage is it rated for, and what wattage are you using?
(Wattage calculator).

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There's a chance it's something on the MB, but as it's happened to both kinds of drives, this seems somewhat unlikely. The other thing that springs to mind is software corruption.

If you're using one of the newer filesystems (EXT4, btrfs), then this could be a cause. How often do you fsck the drive? Does the machine experience a hard poweroff?

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  • ext4 only recently showed up on Ubuntu, so a 2-yr-old build with stock Ubuntu would not have used it. and it seems unlikely he'd be using experimental filesystems for a relative's computer. some other software cause seems likely, unless it's bad hardware somewhere. really the only things discounted by the happens-to-both-drives thing are the interface chips and data cables. – quack quixote Dec 31 '09 at 17:59
  • It seemed pretty unlikely that a reasonably competent user could plug a USB cable into a serial port without realising, but I've seen it happen. You can't assume that people are going to be sensible. – Dentrasi Dec 31 '09 at 18:32
  • that's not possible. it won't "plug". you might could "jam" it in, given enough ignorance, incompetance, or sheer stupidity, but you just can't "plug" it in there. :) – quack quixote Dec 31 '09 at 21:15
  • Actually, the size of the gap in the USB connector fits quite nicely over the 4 pins in the serial port. I was surprised how well it fitted.. – Dentrasi Dec 31 '09 at 22:21

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