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Laptop hard-drive LED constantly lit.

Discussion in 'Laptops' started by John Doue, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. John Doue

    John Doue Guest

    Not knowing which laptop you are using, I can only surmise the Bios do
    not properly detect the new hard drive. Personally, given the higher
    temperature and the constantly On LED, I would not use this drive until
    I can figure out what is wrong.
    John Doue, Jul 21, 2005
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  2. John Doue

    Quaoar Guest

    Further to what John wrote, boot into BIOS setup and verify that the
    drive type is Auto - F2, Del, Esc or whatever key is required at POST.
    Check with your laptop vendor for any BIOS updates specifically for
    larger drives.

    Quaoar, Jul 21, 2005
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  3. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    My laptop has an 11GB hard drive (Hitachi DK23CA-12). From a similar model
    laptop, I got a 20GB hard drive (Hitachi DK23CA-20). When I fit this
    drive, the hard drive LED stays on all the time. The 20GB drive also
    seems to run a fair deal hotter than the 11GB drive, but it works without
    apparent problem - I've put my Windows 98 OS onto it.

    Could the constantly-on LED explain the higher running temperature?

    I fitted the 20 GB drive into the same chassis/base as the 11GB drive so
    it's connected through the same connecting strip, yet the LED remains on all
    the time whereas it flashes intermittently (except in heavy activity) on the
    11 GB drive.

    Any ideas why the LED's on all the time (and whether there's cause for

    Martin, Jul 21, 2005
  4. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Thanks. I really appreciate what you and John wrote.

    All I can see in the bios, relating to the hard drive, is under Primary HDD
    in IDE Settings:

    3 items are listed and enabled - drive enabled; multiple sector mode; PIO

    The laptop is an AJP 3300 and is 5 years old, but as it does all I want and
    has served me well, I'm keen to hang on to it. So I'll contact AJP and see
    what they say; however, I don't fancy my chances on updating the bios even
    if there's an update that would fix this.

    Nevertheless, I'm very grateful that you both made me aware that the problem
    was more serious than I thought.

    Martin, Jul 21, 2005
  5. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Just a further note: I've noticed that when the 20GB drive is fitted, the
    LED lights the instant the power switched is pressed, whereas when the
    original 11GB drive is fitted, the LED stays off until some ten seconds or
    so into the bootup - after detecting IDE devices - when it gives the odd
    flicker or 2.

    Meanwhile, I have e-mailed AJP - the laptop manufacturer - I don't expect to
    get an answer, so I'm also contacting Hitachi for advice. If I get
    anything of interest I will post back.
    Martin, Jul 21, 2005
  6. John Doue

    John Doue Guest


    this is definitely a sign that something is wrong with this set-up. Is
    there any jumper on the drive that could be either missing or not set as
    it should (like, main, slave, ...)? Check carefully for this, there
    might be so printed indication on the drive itself as to the use of
    those jumpers. Have you carefully checked for a bent connector?

    Then, I am again thinking about the BIOS. Starting with the bios version
    number, I would try to research the maximum admissible hd size to be
    recognized. If 20G is above this limit, you might want to consider using
    Diskmanager to circumvent this limitation. But from my experience,
    although it works, the penalty on hd performance is very significant. If
    an update for the bios is available, your situation is one where the
    benefits vs risk ratio is favorable.
    John Doue, Jul 22, 2005
  7. John Doue

    John Doue Guest


    Yes, you are dealing with pins. In my experience, on laptop hd, none is
    necessary on a normal setup.

    BTW, one thing you can do is take a look at :
    Drive Fitness and Feature Tool will eanble you to check the disk, Disk
    Manager to overcome Bios limitations if this indeed is the case.

    Take care
    John Doue, Jul 22, 2005
  8. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Thanks John. This jumper business has got me a bit confused but at the
    end of the day the 2 drives are connected identically. I'll elaborate: I
    thought jumpers were tiny switches, but I can't see anything like that so I
    assume the jumpers are the pins?

    The diagram on the drive shows, for "master of single", the following:

    o o o
    o o o

    The pins on the back of the drive look like:

    o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
    o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

    The block of 4 at the left end is not connected to anything, and the
    connector that fits on the 43 other pins can be fitted one way only because
    of the missing pin. Regardless, the 2 drives are connected identically.

    A couple of pins were ever so slightly bent; I straightened them but to no

    I will endeavour to get an answer from AJP but I expect I will have to chase
    them up and then I'll post back. I will need to get this sorted one way
    or the other as the original drive is developing bad sectors but it is 5
    years old.

    Maybe I have a duff drive - even though it boots up fine, it is louder than
    the 11GB drive and I cannot hear it spin down so I assume it spins down as
    fast as the cpu fan, whereas the original drive winds down for possibly 15

    I really appreciate the guidance you and Quaoar have given me - and I'll
    post back when I get an answer.
    Martin, Jul 22, 2005
  9. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Sod's Law being what it is has the 20GB drive passing the Drive Fitness Test
    (Quick) and the 11GB drive stalling the test every time. So for what
    it's worth, the larger drive gave a successful completion of the test.

    I'll let you know as soon as anything else comes through.

    Have a good weekend.

    Martin, Jul 22, 2005
  10. John Doue

    T. Belden Guest

    To be a bit more specific, a jumper is a tiny piece of metal (usually
    covered with with plastic) that you slide onto two of the pins to connect
    them. Which pins you connect, if any, determines whether the drive gets a
    lower (master) or higher (slave) letter assigned to it, relative to another
    drive on that same data cable. The pin diagram on the drive shows which
    pins, if any, the jumper should connect to make a drive master/slave. If the
    two drives are connected to the same data cable, one has to be master and
    the other slave. If they are connected to different data cables, they can
    both be 'master' and probably are. I recall once having a problem similar to
    yours. It was caused by a drive jumpered as 'slave' being on a data cable by
    itself (meaning there was no 'master'), but it sounds like you've already
    checked for that possibility.
    T. Belden, Jul 23, 2005
  11. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Thanks - it's starting to make sense. The diagrams on the drive are
    shown as best as I can below from which I understand that to make a slave,
    one would put the jumper across the left-most pair of pins, whereas for a
    master, there'd be no jumper, which is my case. So that's confirmed it's
    not a jumper problem. Both drives have identical jumper diagrams and
    I've used the same connector, so I can rule out an incorrect jumper setup.

    Master Slave
    of single
    O O O |Ø| O O
    O O O |Ø| O O

    Just to add, whilst I'm posting, Hitachi have replied and asked me to run
    their Drive Fitness Test. So I'll get back to them telling them that, so
    far, it gives satisfactory results. (I'll try running the advanced test to
    be sure.) Then I'll post their answer back; I'll try chasing the
    laptop manufacturer with a phone call to see what they say.

    Thanks everyone for your guidance and help. I'll keep you informed.

    Martin, Jul 24, 2005
  12. John Doue

    John Doue Guest


    Good for Hitachi that they replied to you! I forgot to ask you: is the
    drive size in Windows consistent with its physical size? If not, this
    will be a clue that your bios do not properly recognize the drive. Are
    there in bios any settings that can be adjusted with regards to the hd?
    Since I assume you have not entered any sensitive data on this HD
    without backing it up, I would try adjusting one at a time any available
    setting and see what happens, since I really believe the problem stems
    from the bios, a jumper problem having been ruled out now.

    John Doue, Jul 24, 2005
  13. John Doue

    larry Guest

    FWTW, I am having the same problem on a dell C600. I am presently
    ignoring it. So far no problems.

    larry, Jul 24, 2005
  14. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Interesting - and does the LED light up the instant you press the power
    button on? From the sound of it it's a recent thing - not linked to
    anything in particular?
    Martin, Jul 25, 2005
  15. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Good point, John; I meant to mention that: Windows does recognise that
    there's best part of 20GB there (i.e. over 19 GB).

    Yes, Hitachi were true to their word and replied within 2 days. I also
    found a firmware update for the drive on their website. I tried to install
    it and got a message that the update is not supported on my computer.
    Anyway, I've replied to them and told them this just in case it's
    significant. And I've told them that the Drive Fitness Test was passed with
    flying colours. So we'll see if they can make anything of that.

    Not much in the BIOS that I can see. Under Disks is IDE Settings and
    under that is Primary HDD. There are 3 settings there, and all are

    1. Drive enabled
    2. Multiple sector mode
    3 PIO Mode

    There's also 2 settings below that section:

    1. IDE UDMA-33 Function - enabled
    2. IDE 32 bit I/O - enabled

    Nevertheless, this LED lights up the instant the power button is pressed,
    before, one imagines, the electrons have found their way to the chip where
    the bios lives. But it's worth a play to see if there's any effect.

    I'll let you know what Hitachi say. Thanks for your continued interest
    and patience.

    As for backup, when I started to get bad sectors on the 12 GB drive I saw
    the writing on the wall and got a usb dvd burner from ALDI (UK) and breathed
    a huge sigh of relief when the first backup dvd was made.
    Martin, Jul 25, 2005
  16. John Doue

    larry Guest

    It appears to come on when the hard drive is accessed the first time, a
    couple of seconds after the computer is turned on and then it stays on.

    I purchased the computer as a refurb several years ago and the hard
    drive has always remained on. Using the service tag number I when to
    the Dell website and download all the original and updated drivers, but
    the light continues to stay on.

    As I said, I have been ignoring it and have had no problems with the
    hard drive. But having the hard drive LED on all the time is a bit

    larry, Jul 25, 2005
  17. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    Thanks Larry. That's reassuring. I've put the question to Hitachi,
    regardless of whether they can make a diagnosis, if running with an LED on
    all the time could be detrimental to the laptop or the drive. I'll let you
    know what transpires.

    Ceratainly, I can't see any subjective difference in operating speed with
    the original drive and the one that causes the LED to be on. Nevertheless,
    I'm operating with the 'safe' one, even though, it's got bad sectors, till I
    get to the bottom of it.
    Martin, Jul 25, 2005
  18. John Doue

    Martin Guest

    I've got some answers now.

    Firstly, I had a helpful reply from Hitachi following my telling them that
    the drive passed the Drive Fitness Test with zero fault [0x00 below]:
    Armed with that, I phoned AJP the manufacturer/supplier of the laptop and
    explained the situation to them. They checked the spec and told me the
    maximum size of hard drive that this laptop could support is 30 GB.
    They didn't have anything to add to Hitachi's comments.

    So, I'm still running with the 12GB drive and keeping an eye on the bad
    sectors and in the meantime building up the 20GB drive ready for the day the
    original drive packs up. In addition, I'll be making enquiries into a
    replacement new drive - I think second-hand drives are likely to be a false
    economy (there are 2 bad sectors on the 20GB drive) at worst and a gamble at

    Once again, sincere thanks for your advice and guidance.

    Martin, Jul 26, 2005
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