Troubleshooting IDE Hard Drive Problems

This document is designed to assist you in troubleshooting problems with your IDE Hard Drive. Some of the steps in this document may require that the cover from the system be removed, so please keep in mind that you need to take precautions against static electricity when working inside the computer.

Possible causes:

Hard drive problems can be caused by a number of things:

Basic Troubleshooting Procedures:

These are general troubleshooting steps that may resolve or more accurately diagnose numerous hard drive problems.
Boot the system clean: Booting the system clean will help determine if there is a conflict or problem with a setting in the AUTOEXEC.BAT or CONFIG.SYS files.
Check the hard drive configuration in CMOS: If the hard drive is not properly identified or not identified at all in CMOS, you will not be able to boot up the system. You will also get errors when the system boots. Check your Userís Guide on how to enter CMOS. On the first page of CMOS, the hard drive is identified.
Transfer the system files back onto the hard drive: If any of the main boot files are corrupt on the hard drive, you may not be able to boot to the hard drive. Insert a #1 MS-DOS Setup diskette (NOT a bootable floppy) into the A: drive and power the up system or reboot the system. As the system boots, it reads the information on the diskette. You see a screen that says "Please wait while setup checks your system configuration." When the screen says "Welcome to Setup," press the F3 key on the keyboard to exit Setup and then press F3 again to confirm that you want to exit. At the A:\> prompt type:
sys a: c:
and then press the Enter key. Once this is completed, you see a message that says "System transferred" and return to the A:\> prompt.
The "SYS" command is only available with MS-DOS version 6.0 and above. If you have an older version of MS-DOS you may need to reload your MS-DOS operating system.
Reload MS-DOS: Reloading MS-DOS can solve many booting problems and errors. By reloading MS-DOS, you insure that the boot record on the hard drive is correct and the hard drive is reading and writing correctly. Insert the #1 MS-DOS setup diskette (NOT a bootable floppy) into the A: drive and power up the system or reboot the system. As the system boots, it reads the information on the diskette. You see a screen that says "Please wait while setup checks your system configuration". When the screen says "Welcome to Setup," press the Enter key to begin installation. If the next screen tells you that you already have MS-DOS loaded on the system, arrow down to "continue and install MS-DOS." Press Enter for all the defaults during installation and when prompted to reboot the system.
Run an anti-virus program: If you use diskettes that have been in other computer systems at work, school, etc., you may have encountered a virus. Many viruses can corrupt the boot record on the hard drive and give errors that appear to be hardware type errors. To insure that a virus is not the cause of the problem, run an anti-virus program on the hard drive.

Resolving Hard Drive Problems:

Hard drive identification in CMOS: Enter the CMOS screens using the method outlined in your Userís Manual. On the first page of CMOS, make sure that the hard drive is identified correctly. If your hard drive is not properly configured, you can get configuration errors, missing operating system, etc. Your hard drive may also make strange noises if it is not identified correctly.
Software conflict: If you have recently added software to the system and the hard drive gives you errors while booting up or running applications, try booting the system clean to see if the problem subsides. If booting clean seems to alleviate the problem, remove any settings that the new software may have added to the CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT files. Check the integrity of the software on the hard drive by running ChkDsk or ScanDisk to insure that there is no corruption.
Corrupt system files: Often after adding software, the MS-DOS system files can be corrupted. If you experience problems booting, try the "SYS" command or reloading MS-DOS to insure that the boot recordís integrity.
Loose or poorly connected cables: If the system does not boot up or hard drive errors persist, the hard drive data cable may be loose or poorly connected. Power the system down, remove the screws on the rear of the computer unit, and take off the outer case. Once you have completed this, identify the hard drive on the inside of the system. On the back side of the hard drive, there will be a flat, gray ribbon cable and a red, yellow and black connector. Gently pull the hard drive cable off the back of the drive and push it firmly back onto the drive in the same way that you removed it (pull the connector not the cable). Follow the cable down to where it connects to the system board. Gently pull the hard drive cable off the system board and push it back on firmly. Once this is accomplished, power up the system to see if the hard drive is recognized by the system. If the same error(s) occur, turn the system back off. Remove the red, yellow, and black power connector from the back of the hard drive and replace it with another available power lead from the power supply. Power up the system to see if there is any change.
Newly added hardware: If you have added any new hardware device(s) to the system, one of these may be causing the hard drive problems. Power down the system and remove the newly added device(s). Power up the system to make sure that the system boots. If it does, the newly added hardware may need to be reconfigured so that it does not conflict with the hard drive.
Virus on hard drive: Viruses can exist on the hard drive undetected for months. Many times a virus may produce errors that are usually associated with hardware problems. Make sure that you are running an updated anti-virus program to insure that your problem is not caused by a virus.
If you are unable to access the hard drive after trying these suggestions, check the integrity of the partition on the hard drive. If you do not know how to do this, call technical support.

Error Messages:

"Hard disk configuration error" -- This error is generally seen as the system boots up. Enter the CMOS setup program and make sure that your hard drive is set correctly. If you receive this error after ensuring that you hard drive is set up correctly, the cable on the hard drive may be loose. Power down the system and reseat the cable.
"Hard disk 0 failure" -- This error is generally seen as the system boots up. Check CMOS to make sure the hard drive is set correctly. Watch the front of the system to see if the hard drive light comes on as the drive is initialized during setup. If the drive light does not come on, power down the system, and replace the power cable to the drive with another available lead from the power supply.
"Hard disk controller failure" -- If you see this message as the system boots up, power down the system. Reseat the data cable on the back of the hard drive as well as the system board. Power up the system and watch for the hard drive light to come on. If it does not, replace the power cable to the drive with another available lead from the power supply.
"Invalid drive specification," "Error selecting drive" -- These error messages almost exclusively point to the incorrect configuration of the hard drive in the CMOS Setup program. Check the hard drive settings. If the hard drive settings are OK, the problem may be with the FDISK partition on the hard drive.
"Maximum 120 second wait for controller. Hard disk installation aborted" -- This error is seen generally when the hard drive is not identified in CMOS. If the hard drive is identified correctly, power down the system, reseat the data cable, and possibly change the power lead to the hard drive.
"Invalid command interpreter," "No boot device available," "Missing operating system" -- If the boot record on the hard drive is corrupted or has been deleted, these errors may be displayed as you boot up the system. Try using the "SYS" command or simply reload MS-DOS to restore the boot record to the hard drive. Always make sure that the hard drive is identified correctly in CMOS or you may receive these errors.
"General failure reading drive C:," "Not ready reading drive C:" - If this error message is seen as the system boots up, check CMOS and retry the boot. If this error is seen only in specific applications or during certain routines within a program, insure that the software is up to date and that the routines that you are attempting are valid in that program. Make sure that the application you are running has no corruption on the hard drive by running ChkDsk or ScanDisk on the hard drive.
"A serious disk error occurred while trying to read/write drive C:" -- This error message generally points to a cabling problem with the hard drive. Insure that the cable is securely seated and the power lead is also secure on the back of the hard drive. Make sure that the application you are running has no corruption on the hard drive by running ChkDsk or ScanDisk on the hard drive.

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