A close call with my boot drive


Y

Yousuf Khan

Well, sometime last week I nearly lost my boot drive. It was the
strangest set of seemingly unrelated circumstances. I decided it was
time to upgrade the video card in my desktop so I went and bought a new
Radeon 6870. Everything is fine, I took the old video card out, put the
new one in, put the additional power plugs in, and I didn't even need to
remove any of the SATA or IDE cables. Great, I thought, so far so good.
I powered the machine on, and the BIOS screen showed up on the new video
card properly -- everything was looking fine. Since the machine is a
dual boot Linux/Windows machine, it uses Grub to boot. Then next thing I
know, I get a read error message from Grub during booting. I rebooted,
tried again, same thing. I then powered it off, removed the new video
card and rebooted using only the onboard integrated graphics only --
still the same error. I was thinking that I'm gonna need to buy a new
boot drive.

I wasn't too concerned about the boot partition as I have it backed up,
however, it gets backed up weekly, so I may have lost about a week's
worth of changes at worst. Also the drive is partitioned into multiple
partitions where there is a data partition that doesn't get backed up
is, and also the Linux partition is on the same drive. The data and the
Linux partition don't get backed up, so those may have been a bit of a
problem, but by far the most important partition is the Windows boot
partition.

Then I decided to do one more thing. I had an external USB/eSATA
enclosure. I took the current disk that was in there out, and put the
PC's boot disk into it. I then took the enclosure and attached it via
USB to my laptop. Much to my surprise, the laptop read it fine! I then
took the enclosure and attached it to the eSATA port on the PC, and it
booted fine too! I then put the drive back into its original slot inside
the PC, and it worked fine there too!

Why putting a video card in had any effect at all on a hard drive I
don't know? I suspect that maybe the new video card's power draw was a
bit more than it was used to, and it decided to fail right there. I
looked at the SMART logs later, and it looks like that there was a new
bad sector reallocated during that day. I think the bad sector might
have been right on the boot sector where Grub resided. So putting the
drive on a machine that didn't depend on that drive to boot, let SMART
take care of the issue in its own time. Close call!

Yousuf Khan
 
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E

Ed Light

In what sense?

I'm *not* a BIOS expert. But I'm imagining it getting confused
"enumerating" the hardware, until something was pulled and replaced,
with the power cord pulled for awhile inbetween.

A repair guy told me that sometimes a video card would quit working, and
the only thing that would cure it was to put one in from the other
brand, then put the original one back in.

Weird BIOS stuff.

Just like you have to tease software into doing what you want, sometimes
motherboards are that way.

I have 2 motherboards that, when overclocking, no matter how you set one
setting, it had no actual effect. After crashing from too high a clock,
they both worked. I changed the cpu in one and it's back to its old
ways. I guess if I want to overclock higher I'll have to crash it. I
don't want to risk it, though. (Hypertransport wouldn't actually lower
in that last one. cpu voltage wouldn't actually raise in the 1st one.

--
Ed Light

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R

Rod Speed

Ant wrote
Ed Light wrote
Wow, computers are weird indeed.

Not really.
Even after powering off completely (unplugging power too) doesn't help?

Not if it keeps track of the card installed in the cmos.
I noticed sometimes turing off for several minutes helps.

Yeah, it can take that long to reset things properly. Thats also the
reason the unplugging can help, that gets rid of the standby 5V supply.
 
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R

Rod Speed

Ant said:
Rod Speed wrote
Then, why the weird behaviors.

Its only 'weird' if you dont understand why it happens.
I have something like that too in the past but with other parts.

Sure, anyone who has much to do with hardware has had.
What about CMOS resets?

The cmos is how it keeps track of something even after powering off completely and unplugging too.
Yeah, annoying.

But that approach does allow the config to be retained over a complete removal of power.

You're smirking, again. This is no laughing matter, boy.
 
Y

Yousuf Khan

I'm *not* a BIOS expert. But I'm imagining it getting confused
"enumerating" the hardware, until something was pulled and replaced,
with the power cord pulled for awhile inbetween.

Well, sometimes what happens on my system is that if I attach an
external hard drive to it (either eSATA or USB), it rearranges the boot
priority of the hard drives, and I have to go to the BIOS setup to
reorder them by hand properly again. This has happened to me so often
that I don't even flinch anymore, and I go straight to the BIOS setup
screen.

However, in this case it was a video card being installed, it doesn't
even fit into the chain of boot devices, such as hard drives, floppies,
opticals, flashdrves, etc.
A repair guy told me that sometimes a video card would quit working, and
the only thing that would cure it was to put one in from the other
brand, then put the original one back in.

Weird BIOS stuff.

Just like you have to tease software into doing what you want, sometimes
motherboards are that way.

I also disconnected the drive and reconnected it on the same system, and
it still wouldn't boot up. It only worked after attaching it to the laptop.

Yousuf Khan
 
E

Ed Light

Well, sometimes what happens on my system is that if I attach an
external hard drive to it (either eSATA or USB), it rearranges the boot
priority of the hard drives, and I have to go to the BIOS setup to
reorder them by hand properly again.

I try not to boot up with an external HD attached. On my Intel P31
chipset motherboard, with a Western Digital external HD, it dislikes it
so much that it de-overclocks itself!

So I attach after Windows is all booted up, and detach if restarting.

It doesn't mind my thumb drives. But I'm careful to remove them before
doing anything outside of windows (BIOS settings, imaging), as one was
killed.
--
Ed Light

Better World News TV Channel:
http://realnews.com

Iraq Veterans Against the War and Related:
http://ivaw.org
http://couragetoresist.org
http://antiwar.com

Send spam to the FTC at
(e-mail address removed)
Thanks, robots.
 
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G

GMAN

Well, sometimes what happens on my system is that if I attach an
external hard drive to it (either eSATA or USB), it rearranges the boot
priority of the hard drives, and I have to go to the BIOS setup to
reorder them by hand properly again. This has happened to me so often
that I don't even flinch anymore, and I go straight to the BIOS setup
screen.
\

Thats because you probably have your bios set to boot from USB devices
before optical drives and hard drives.. Change the boot order.
 

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