[SOLVED] Hard drive problem or operating system problem?

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[SOLVED] Hard drive problem or operating system problem?

Post by kayeng » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:07 am

Hello. I have two hard drives installed in one desktop computer. Please see pics below.

This is the multi-boot hard drive with Windows XP, Freedos, and Lubuntu.
This is the hard drive with Linuxmint as the only operating system.
Notice that in the sdb drive, the left-most column of the Windows partition has a warning sign icon. The warning message asscociated with it is this:
Unable to read the contents of this file system!
Because of this some operations may be unavailable.
The cause might be a missing software package.
The following list of software packages is required for ntfs file system support: ntfs-3g / ntfsprogs.

I figure this could be the problem why I can't boot Windows. It keeps showing a black screen with several options like 'start normally', 'start in safe mode', 'start in safe mode with command prompt' , etc. And whatever option I choose, it just restarts and goes back to the black screen.

Other pic that you may or may not find useful:
From the Disk app, showing the multi-boot drive with Windows XP in it.
So, my questions are:
1. Is it a software (Windows) problem or a hardware (hard drive) problem?
2. If software problem, any simple solution?
3. If hardware problem, any simple solution or should I just replace the hard drive?

Thanks so much!
Last edited by kayeng on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hard drive problem or operating system problem?

Post by Pjotr » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:16 am

Probably a software problem; possibly caused by an unclean shutdown of Windows.

Although the one bad sector is definitely a hard drive problem.... This usually goes from bad to worse.
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Re: Hard drive problem or operating system problem?

Post by rene » Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:45 am

Probably primarily a software problem; the fact that you can't boot into XP means the installation was damaged. I take it that you cannot run a file system check from the Windows boot menu either?

But certainly that primary problem may well be caused by hardware: the "Self-test failed" and "One bad sector" for your 160G WD do not sound good. As to the "one" bad sector: a drive has an internal reservoir of spare sectors and it takes quite a bit for any bad sectors to show up externally; as soon as one does you should take it as a sign that the drive is about to fail. However, if you don 't mind erasing the drive completely you may have a method of reviving it available through "firmware-level formatting" it.

[EDIT] I didn't look beyond the "one bad sector" report you had marked, but am noticing the actual smart values say that you have a zero Reallocated Sector Count which would be to say that you have no problem; not sure what that "Disks" thing is basing itself on there; maybe the Reallocated Event Counter. In any case: I'll leave the below in; probably a good idea regardless.[/EDIT]

You'd boot into a Linux Mint Live CD/USB and from a terminal run sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdz for whichever value of "sdz" matches your WD; likely simply "sda". Near the end of the shown report will be a "Security" section like

Code: Select all

	Master password revision code = 65534
	not	enabled
	not	locked
	not	frozen
	not	expired: security count
		supported: enhanced erase
That "30min" may be different of course. Some BIOSen set the security feature "frozen" rather than the "not frozen" you see in the above. If so, you'd need to suspend the system: echo -n mem | sudo tee /sys/power/state and wake it up again. Rerunning the hdparm command, you should now see "not frozen". From the "non frozen" state, you'd to initiate a firmware-level format do

Code: Select all

sudo hdparm --security-set-pass password /dev/sdz
sudo hdparm --security-erase password /dev/sdz
You can have it literally be "password": the password will be cleared after the security-erase anyway. This would take approximately the amount of time you were told by hdparm and will cause the drive to reset internal tables, rewrite supposedly bad sectors and potentially find them not bad at all; generally, return the drive to factory-state as much as possible.

Although you should still be careful with drives like that I've myself revived a few in this manner that have then gone on to provide years of trouble free duty (for me personally). Your mileage may vary -- but personally I wouldn't go on using a drive with explicit bad sectors; would either try the firmware-level format or replace it.

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Re: Hard drive problem or operating system problem?

Post by kayeng » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:08 am

Thank you rene, that helped a lot!

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Re: [SOLVED] Hard drive problem or operating system problem?

Post by Petermint » Tue Dec 05, 2017 2:25 am

Is it a software (Windows) problem
Yes, it is a software problem if it is Windows. :-)

Hardware problems should show up in the disk's SMART data. I suggest looking in there. If there are permanent errors, buy a new disk. If there are any temporary errors, count them as permanent errors. Temporary errors are equivalent to a plane that crashes then bounces before crashing again.

How many spare sectors do you have before you get total failure? Each brand chooses, 5, 10, 100, then may choose to sell disks where many of the spare sectors are already used. The SMART data might list the reallocated sectors or the unallocated sectors remaining. Open up the Disks utility, select the options, then the SMART data.

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