Strangeness with a Maxtor 80GB hard drive out of a 2400

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Kevin, Apr 27, 2007.

  1. Kevin

    Kevin Guest

    Recently, my friend had a problem with his Dimension 2400, about 3 years old
    or so, as it decided it would not boot up. He got a blue screen, then a
    black screen and an error message (fatal error) referring to the boot.ini
    file. The drive is an 80GB capacity Maxtor.

    He took the drive out of the system and dropped it off at a tech shop he
    uses for just such an issue. The techs called him back a day later and told
    him they tried their best to get all his data off the drive, but they
    "couldn't get Ghost to run on it". The drive was toast. They had some of
    his data burned to a DVD for him and sold him a 40GB drive to replace the
    faulty drive.

    I put the bad drive in an enclosure, plugged it into a USB 2.0 port on his
    Dimension 2400, and it was instantly recognized as a logical drive.
    Puzzled, I ran scandisk and let it run while we drank a cold beer. I
    expected to see disk errors all over the place. Nope! Not one error was
    reported. No bad sectors, nothing! A perfectly healthy drive was

    But, and here is where it gets strange, his data was scattered all over the
    drive. The directory structure of the drive was still intact, all the
    folders he had created were still there, but in the folder where all his
    client data was kept, it was chaos. Files that should have all been in
    Folder A were in Folder A and B and C and so on. Some of his data, about
    30% of his client files, were gone. Not a trace of them anywhere. A quick
    check of drive usage confirmed they were gone. The DVD that the techs had
    been able to burn for him contained only about 40% of his information,
    including some of the files I found on the hard drive.

    A week goes by. He calls me and informs me that while checking the old hard
    drive in an attempt to recover more of his files, ALL of the missing 30% of
    his files were now back. They were scattered all over the place, in places
    like his My Documents folder, just laying around in the Program Files
    folder, and some just hanging out in the C:\ drive. In addition, he now has
    eight instances of the My Documents folder in C:\Documents and Settings\His
    Name\blah blah blah.

    What happened? The techs have no explanation. They just say something like
    that should not be possible. They insist the drive was not recoverable when
    they received it. This drive has functioned without issue as an external
    hard drive since then.
    Kevin, Apr 27, 2007
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  2. Kevin

    S.Lewis Guest

    I don't know what happened or how the directories became corrupted/scrambled
    like that, though I don't find the description shocking or entirely
    surprising.Your friend is hugely fortunate to have his data back.

    I do know that I wouldn't trust that drive for a single second with any data
    of value from this point on.

    Interesting post though.

    S.Lewis, Apr 27, 2007
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  3. Kevin

    Ben Myers Guest

    My first rule of thumb is to not trust a Maxtor drive.
    My second rule of thumb is to stop using a Maxtor drive that has shown any flaky
    I absolutely won't put a Maxtor in any system I resell.

    Two possible explanations for all the problems:

    1. Failed C2032 CMOS battery in the Dimension 2400. Failed CMOS batteries
    cause all sorts of odd symptoms. The system could have booted on the 2400 and
    the CMOS could have been corrupted resulting in a faulty drive geometry, and a
    mess afterwards.

    2. The people in the shop who tried to ghost the drive could have installed the
    drive on a system incapable of handling the drive geometry seen by the Dimension
    2400. In this age of BIOSes that are almost identical in the handling of hard
    drives, this is unlikely. But you never know.

    Once Ghost failed to run (and this happens often with any drive cloning software
    and a flaky drive), the people at the shop make best efforts to scavenge the
    drive for any useful data and recorded it onto a DVD.

    Semi-finally, scandisk totally sucks as a hard drive diagnostic tool. It was
    written by the Redmond morons and it has to find its way through layers and
    layers of Windows to run. I would not trust the results of scandisk, nor would
    I EVER trust its ability to reassign bad sectors to spares. Instead, always,
    always, always use the manufacturer's hard drive diagnostics (free downloads
    all) to determine the health of a drive. If the drive is a Toshiba, those
    fools are the only ones still in the industry unwilling to provide free hard
    drive diagnostic software, so use Hitachi's Drive Fitness Test (DFT) on Toshiba

    Finally, to see the true state of a drive, you need to know if any bad sectors
    have ever been assigned to spares. For this, you need to see the SMART data
    kept on the drive. Here is a good free tool to do so.

    I will bet that the OP's Maxtor has some bad sectors and a high number of
    retries due to errors in its SMART data... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Apr 27, 2007
  4. Kevin

    GHalleck Guest

    This just might be the time and place to also get Spinrite and run it.
    GHalleck, Apr 27, 2007
  5. Kevin

    Ben Myers Guest

    Spinrite is OK, but there really is nothing wrong with running the
    manufacturer's diagnostics and MHDD first. This follows the reasoning that one
    first diagnoses a problem, then corrects it... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Apr 27, 2007
  6. Kevin

    Kevin Guest

    Top Posted Here ---
    Thanks for the great information Ben! Very helpful indeed. I'll get my
    friend to run the Maxtor diagnostics on this thing. It is strictly a 2nd
    backup drive at this point; I don't trust Maxtor drives either.
    Kevin, Apr 27, 2007
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