Bad luck with 160GB laptop hard drives

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Paul, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Inspiron 6400 here. Last December I replaced my trusty Seagate Momentus
    120GB SATA drive with a Samsung HM160JI drive. About 5 months later,
    windows booted with a "lost user profile" error. I ran SpinRite on the
    Samsung drive, and SpinRate came up with a big red error message saying it
    would not even attempt to analyze the disk. Not good. Anyhow, I managed
    to mount the drive on another computer and do a Ghost drive copy to a new
    drive, a Seagate Momentus 160GB ST9160821AS. After running chkdsk on the
    new drive and doing an XP repair reinstall, everything was fine again.

    I ran SpinRite on the new Seagate 160GB drive for the heck of it, and it
    popped up a warning about going over the manufacturer's recommended maximum
    temperature. It was only running about 1 degree F higher than spec, so I
    didn't worry too much.

    Now after about a month with the Seagate Momentus 160GB, the machine boots
    with a "c:\windows\font folder is corrupt" error. Running chkdsk gets stuck
    at about 34%. So I pull the drive and mount it in my Vista desktop, and run
    chkdsk from there. After a couple hours, it finds and fixes a bunch of
    errors. I put the drive back into the Inspiron and everything is peachy

    I've now ordered a Western Digital 160GB WD1600BEVS drive so I have yet
    another drive manufacturer on hand in case the Seagate gives up the ghost.

    So I wonder - is the Inspiron 6400 design cooking these drives, or is this
    new 160GB "perpendicular recording" technology just not ready for primetime?

    -- Paul
    Paul, Jun 7, 2007
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  2. Hi!
    Was the listed capacity correct? Spinrite is very picky about that, and will
    complain loudly if the drive's layout doesn't match what its capacity is
    listed as.
    I tend to think that the problem is with the computer or its design. I've
    found Seagate's drives to be pretty reliable. The same is true of the
    Samsung drives, which I've also been pretty happy with.

    It sounds like a lot of the problems you're experiencing are damage to the
    file system. Have you tried turning *off* the "enable write caching"
    checkbox from your hard drive's property page in Device Manager?

    The Fujitsu MHT2060AH in my Latitude D800 will also trip Spinrite's
    temperature alert, and if allowed to continue, may go as much as ten to
    fifteen degrees higher. It's been running fine since March of 2005.

    William R. Walsh, Jun 7, 2007
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  3. Paul

    S.Lewis Guest

    Nice work, Paul.

    I know of (4) of these E1505/6400 systems I've personally placed with
    people. The oldest of those maybe out in the field perhaps 2 years?

    Anyway, one (less than a year old) was brought to me just last week and in
    the course of running diags on the system, the hard disk reported a few bad

    Looking at the support site, it indicates for the hard disk:

    KH474 HARD DRIVE, 120G, Serial ATA, 9.5, 5.4, W060

    I'm not sure of the brand of that disk, but it's the first of the four to
    have any issue(s) at all.

    S.Lewis, Jun 7, 2007
  4. Paul

    Paul Guest

    I don't recall what SpinRite said about the capacity on the Samsung 160GB
    drive, but SR had no problem with the layout/capacity of the Seagate 160GB.
    I also agree the Seagate Momentus 120GB and under are quite reliable.
    However the 160GB drives from all manufacturers are a totally new breed with
    "perpendicular recording technology".

    Based on the reviews of the Seagate drive at, I'm inclined to
    move my data off it and onto the Western Digital, before it's too late.
    Sure, it is damage to the file system. The question is whether the drive is
    causing that, or it's just standard windows XP OS nonsense. I might try
    turning off write caching but I'm afraid to see performance plummet.
    Your Fujitsu is a 60GB drive, tried and true technology. I wouldn't expect
    problems with any 2.5" drive 120GB or less. However these 160GB 2.5"
    drives seem to be a different animal. Maybe they're more sensitive to
    temperature or something.

    -- Paul
    Paul, Jun 8, 2007
  5. Paul

    Ben Myers Guest

    First, are you using any software to monitor temperatures inside the Inspiron
    6400? I heartily recommend i8kfanui, developed originally for the hot-running
    Inspiron 8100.

    Depending on the sensors in the notebook, you can see temperatures of the CPU,
    GPU, memory, and hard drive in real time under Windows. The program also
    allows you to set temperatures at which fans kick in, and monitors fan RPM with
    the right sensors inside. Awfully good stuff in this age of notebook computer
    hardware designs that push the envelope.

    Nex, also consider downloading and using the drive manufacturers' diagnostic
    utility software. Samsung, WD and Seagate all have the software free for the
    downloading. Of the drive manufacturers still around, only Toshiba does not
    have diagnostic software, a checklist item for me when buying new drives.

    Semi-finally, NEVER EVER use Scandisk to analyze hard drive problems. Bill
    Gates (actually Steve Ballmer is more likely) may want to bust my kneecaps for
    saying so. The layers upon layers upon layers of Windows software obfuscate a
    lot of the important information about hard drive health.

    Finally, get yourself a copy of MHDD, which reads out the table of information
    kept by the drive's controller, including number of bad blocks re-allocated.

    IMHO, the drive manufacturers have pushed the envelope too far, but time will
    tell... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Jun 8, 2007
  6. Paul

    S.Lewis Guest


    BTW, HDTune also monitors drive temps. While the overall drive analysis is
    probably not as detailed as some other utilities, the program is small and

    S.Lewis, Jun 8, 2007
  7. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Semi-finally, NEVER EVER use Scandisk to analyze hard drive problems.
    Do you mean CHKDSK ? Unfortunately almost every third party hard drive
    maintenance app seems to default to dumb old CHKDSK as their tool. Outside
    of SpinRite, I haven't found another utility that truly checks the disk in a
    different way than Microsoft's CHKDSK. There was Norton Disk Doctor, but
    I stopped using that years ago as it seemed to be far more dangerous than
    helpful, especially in the early NTFS days.

    -- Paul
    Paul, Jun 8, 2007
  8. Paul

    Ben Myers Guest

    Forget CHKDSK, too. The drive manufatcurers' diagnostics are the software to
    ude, plus MHDD to see inside the drive's internal table that keeps track of
    error counts. Spinrite is OK. Steve Gibson knows his stuff... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Jun 8, 2007
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