Failing drives and what to do about them

I have a Maxtor ATA 133 DiamondMax Plus 9 120GB and a Maxtor Ultra ATA/133 PCI adapter card. The original hard drive -- Seagate 120 IDE drive failed just after warranty -- confirmed with GWUTIL.

The Diamondmax that failed was just six months old. I ran a scan disk with fix bad sectors and when the scan disk completed, I had no OS. I ran the Powermax diag and it ran OK but now I get a division by zero failure on the utility.

On boot, the controller IDs the hard drive but will not boot. A second hard drive, the failed Seagate with my old OS, will boot after five minutes. The Maxtor drive is not seen by the system.

When trying to reload XP onto the Maxtor, it fails with no storage device after loading the SCSI adapter. The Maxtor drivers will create a RAM drive and then allow access to the C: drive. I am stumped.

1. Should the XP/Pro system scan disk cause this type of failure?

2. What would cause two hard drives to fail so quickly? I am running two other computers off the same network and power supply in the same room -- no problems.

3. Can you recommend a disk utility to recover my data off the failed drive?

4. Is the Maxtor in some type of low level format that the DR DOS and XP cannot see the C: drive?
1. About XP utilities: I do not believe any XP pro utility would corrupt data on its own. There can destructive write tests for disks but they usually give you plenty of warning. I do not believe XP contains that type of utility but I'm not an XP specialist. I have seen Win 2K and XP systems make some remarkable repairs over several boot attempts on corrupted file systems but it took several passes to get it right. You might try that with your Seagate drive. It's worth a try.

2. Reasons for two drive failures: Lightning? Bad Luck? Bad controller? I would definitely not continue to use your current controller in case there is something wrong with it. Replace the cables to just be safe, they are cheap.

3) Disk utilities for recovery: Go here. I know people who have had success with their products and services. This is not necessarily an endorsement, I'm just trying to help out.

4. I don't understand why you are mixing DR DOS and XP. The native disk layouts are different. I would not fool around with DR DOS on a drive that I'd been running a native XP file system on. Does the XP disk manager see the drive? Also you mentioned loading a SCSI driver, why? These are ATA drives and SCSI drivers sometimes need to be loaded for SATA drives with some controllers but not ATA drives. Use the ATA drivers that ship with XP.


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This was first published in April 2004

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