Hard Drives Gone Bad

Jenny at work has a laptop she bought in 2007 from Gateway. This thing is huge, maybe 17 inches. While it was under warranty the hard drive failed so she took it back to Best Buy and they put a new one in. She lost all of the data (they said they could recover the data for $1200) and started doing backups more regularly. It may have failed again under warranty, putting her on her third hard drive. Now it is no longer under warranty and the hard drive has failed again. I took a look at it this weekend to see if there was anything I could do. Well, it wouldn’t boot up. So I tried to start it from the Vista installation CD (or DVD, not sure), bypassing the hard drive. But even this didn’t work. It would start, but as part of the boot sequence it would look for any hard drives and it would hang while it was identifying the hard drive (I think; it would hang on the screen with the status bar that says © Microsoft Corporation).


Eventually I downloaded the latest copy of Ubuntu and made a boot disk. This worked out fine, but the Ubuntu warned me right away that the hard drive was about to fail. The hard drive report said it had 300 bad sectors on it. I ran some kind of test on it, but it would never finish. I couldn’t see the hard drive in Ubuntu’s equivalent of Explorer. So I took the hard drive out and tried to boot up with the Vista disk and this worked fine, but I couldn’t run disk tools on a hard drive that wasn’t connected, so I would connect it after the boot up, during the boot up, whatever it wouldn’t recognize it. Booted again into Ubuntu and now it has 400 bad sectors. Just to make sure it was the hard drive itself and not the cable, I even took the hard drive out of my laptop and stuck it in there to see if I could boot off of the Vista disk with my hard drive in my place (didn’t even want to try to boot from my Dell hard drive in a Gateway laptop) and that went fine. So bad hard drive.

I don’t know what is destroying these hard drives. It looks to me that the processor is water cooled (it has some copper-covered pipe-looking thing going from the fan to the processor), so I think it gets pretty hot and I wonder if the heat is getting to the hard drive? Jenny says she uses the laptop to watch DVD’s because it has a nice big screen. I said she needs to use a DVD player and TV for that and also to make sure that she doesn’t block the fan inlet on the bottom and maybe puts the computer on a board so that the feet keep a gap open along the bottom. The hard drive itself is made by Western Digital who give a 3-year warranty, so she is going to see if she can get a replacement that way. This will be her third or fourth hard drive in two years.

One thought on “Hard Drives Gone Bad

  1. One thing that can cause drives to fail is vibration, but it’s hard to think of how that would be happening in a laptop. A big machine with 24 disks in it has vibration issues, but a laptop? Probably not.

    I would bet on coincidence. I commend her for keeping backups. Everyone needs them, but few have them.

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