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My PC occasionally fails to detect one of the 2 SATA disks





infinisa
Hello All

My PC (Asrock P4V88 Motherboard with chipset: North Bridge: VIA PT880, South Bridge: VIA 8237; other specs. below) occasionally failed to detect one or other or both of the 2 IDE disks installed.

As a precaution, I replaced both disks.

As the VIA 8237 chipset has SATA/RAID support, I bought 2 SATA disks, and set them up in RAID-1 (mirroring).

Unfortunately, the problem continues to occur: sometimes I get a “Mirror Broken” message on booting, as the source or mirror disk is not detected (sometimes one, sometimes the other). On one occasion, the PC booted OK, but I got a “Disk Unplugged” message while working in Windows.

I took the PC to the supplier of the new SATA disks, who did a thorough test of the disks (which were of course OK) and a thorough system test. No faults were detected, yet the problem continues.

How can I diagnose the problem? First of all, how can I test the VIA 8237 chipset? If the chipset is not the problem, what other system tests should I perform?

Thanks,
Michael Rothwell

PC Specs:
Hard drive brand, speed and size: 2 x Samsung HD161HJ (SATA), 7200 rpm, 160GB
Configuration of IDE devices:
• Primary IDE Master: Not installed
• Primary IDE Slave: Not installed
• Secondary IDE Master: Samsung TSSTcorp DVD-ROM TS-H352A
• Secondary IDE Slave: Samsung TSSTcorp CD/DVDW SH-S182M
CPU type and speed: Intel Pentium 4, 3.20 GHz
Motherboard make and model: Asrock P4V88
Chipset: North Bridge: VIA PT880, South Bridge: VIA 8237
Video card: Hercules 3D Prophet II MX (Chipset: NVIDIA GeForce2 MX/MX 400)
RAM, amount and speed: 512MB (DDR PC400)
Operating system and service packs: MS Windows XP Pro with SP2
video card driver version (installed): nv4_disp.dll, version 6.14.10.5673
SgtGarcia
This problem sounds really familiar to me. I have a asus A8n-sli motherboard. And one of my sata disks just isn't detected sometimes. The most strange thing is that it only happens with one of my harddrives. All the other aren't threated by the problem. I already tried to switch the the cables etc but it didnt help. I don't know what to do about it Sad
infinisa
Thanks for a reply finally!

In my case, the problem affects both disks (on separate occasions). I have been advised that despite the diagnostics tests not revealing any problem, and as the problem is definitely not the disks themselves (or cables), it's most likely the motherboard. The problem is that if I replace the 2.5 year old motherboard (relatively cheap), I'll probably have to replace the processor and memory - i.e. a new PC. That's why I'm really keen to get to the bottom of this before having to shell out loads of cash.
shawkat
check in the bios if there is something like "hdd boot delay"

or try to slowdown POST as much as possible Smile for example, turn on some checks in bios

problem could be that your PC is trying to boot faster than HDD's do initialize itself. i had such problem.
DeiviD
hum

try to set up the HDs manually on the bios (dont leave em on detect automatically). Also, make sure the cables are good - that can be a cause too.

Also, try not to have much important stuff in the one thats not being detected. HDs usually start like this when they are failing, and after some time they just wont work anymore.
infinisa
Hi shawkat and DeiviD

Thanks for your suggestions. I shall try them both out.

Just a comment to DeiviD: I have the 2 (brand new) disks in RAID-1 (mirroring), so I'm not in danger of losing important information. My problem is that if my computer fails to work, so do I!

Let's see what happens...
Donutey
Probably a power supply problem, when you start up your computer and the disks/fans/hdds are all spinning up the load is at probably the highest point on the PSU. Try disconnecting your optical drives and removing unnecessary expansion cards and see if you still have the problem.
infinisa
Hi shawkat, DeiviD and Donutey

Thanks for your contrbutions.

However, having discussed your suggestions with my hardware technician, we have come to the following conclusions:

"check in the bios if there is something like "hdd boot delay"
or try to slowdown POST as much as possible Smile for example, turn on some checks in bios

problem could be that your PC is trying to boot faster than HDD's do initialize itself. i had such problem."

- This could the problem if the disks were old and slow. However, they are brand ne SATA disks so there is no way the PC (with a 2.5 year old motherboard) is booting faster than the disks.

"try to set up the HDs manually on the bios (dont leave em on detect automatically). Also, make sure the cables are good - that can be a cause too."

- Manual disk configuration smacks of the early days. We're talking about brand new SATA disks here (i.e. not good old IDE). We think that manual configuration is probably not even possible for this new generation of disks.

"Also, try not to have much important stuff in the one thats not being detected. HDs usually start like this when they are failing, and after some time they just wont work anymore."

- This is not a problem as I have the disks in RAID-1 (mirroring), so if one disk should fail, I have all the information on the other disk.

"Probably a power supply problem, when you start up your computer and the disks/fans/hdds are all spinning up the load is at probably the highest point on the PSU. Try disconnecting your optical drives and removing unnecessary expansion cards and see if you still have the problem."

- When I took my PC to for testing recently the power supply failed, and was replaced by a new one.
I had hoped that the old power supply had been causing the problems, but unfortunately the problems continued (sporadically). As the guy that replaced the power supply knows what he's about, I'm sure that the new power supply is up to the task and is not being overloaded at start up.

Thanks any way.
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