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Boot problem: HDD or Mobo?

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Boot problem: HDD or Mobo?

Old 03-12-06, 12:49 AM
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Boot problem: HDD or Mobo?

My PC, which has been running fine for months, suddenly stopped booting earlier this week. I assumed it was the HDD, and when I rebooted and entered the BIOS, the hard drive wouldn't show up which seemed to confirm my suspicion. I tried entering the drive data into the BIOS manually, also without luck. I created some new boot disks using my laptop, but my PC's 3.5" floppy drive won't recognize any disks that I created. (The 3.5" drive does show up in the BIOS). Both the HDD and floppy seem to be running fine, with no beeping from the mobo on startup and the HDD seems to be spinning smoothly.

I tried to run a recovery using the WinXP CD, and it boots up but hangs on the attempted recovery. (My CD shows up fine in the BIOS).

Today I purchased a new hard drive, floppy drive, and new cables. In summary, swapping floppies did not work, but the new HDD seems to be recognized by the BIOS using the same ribbon cable I used for my old drive. However, the new Maxtor drive I bought came with a CD full of utilities, and while it initially boots, it soon fails stating that it can't find the path to the CD that it is running on.

My system:
Asus P4B266-C mobo
IBM Deskstar UATA133 HDD (the old one)
Maxtor UATA133 HDD (the new one)
Windows XP Pro (when working)

Other Notes:
I run Trend Micro for virus, and Windows Defender for spyware. I do a scandisk and defrag about once a week under automated settings.

The success I had recognizing the new Maxtor drive led me to believe I have a hard drive problem, but the inability to run files from the CD or run anything from 2 different floppy drives using 2 different cables (along with the seemingly perfectly spinning HDD) lead me to believe it may be my motherboard.
Old 03-12-06, 01:32 AM
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Have you tried both IDE channels, 0 and 1, for the CDROM? I've had many problems with my floppy as well - like 1 in 10 floppies will actually read/write correctly, so if you do have luck with that, I'd try flashing the BIOS. Also, there should be an option to set the board to factory defaults to see if that stabilizes anything.
Old 03-12-06, 04:33 AM
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For kicks, I did a clean install of Windows XP on the new Maxtor. The install seemed to go fine, but the first time I rebooted the system, I got another "Disk Boot Failure".

I can't flash the BIOS, because the floppy isn't reading. I'll try to reset the mobo tomorrow morning. At this time, all I have in the PC is the mobo, processor, memory (I have 2 sticks and tried each separately, with no luck), video card, new hard drive, and CDrom.

At this point, I'm pretty sure it's the mobo regarding the problem with the floppy drive. I've tried just about every combination of 2 drives, 2 cables, and about 8 discs. I haven't counted, but I would guess I've tried about 30-40 boots in various combinations of the floppy drive.
Old 03-12-06, 09:26 AM
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Suffice it to say, I don't buy Maxtor products anymore. I've had 4 drives fail in the last 3 years from those retards. Now, I'm not saying it's the Maxtor, but it wouldn't surprise me.

If you can get another hard drive...do it. Your problems just might go away.
Old 03-12-06, 07:19 PM
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I think at this point I'm convinced my motherboard is the problem. I reset the board, and I get a "floppy drive failure" every time on boot. I get the same error with various combinations of 2 different floppy drives, 3 different floppy cables, and with or without disks in the drive. I tested the new floppy drive on my PC at my office today, and it worked fine.

Anyone have a motherboard recommendation? I'm done with Asus, as this is the third Asus mobo that has failed on me in the last year. I guess their quality has gone to hell, which is a shame because I've been using Asus boards reliably for about a decade without problems. I don't want to overclock or do anything fancy, I just want a reliable board.

Last edited by TexasGuy; 03-12-06 at 07:23 PM.
Old 03-12-06, 07:37 PM
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You don't have the floppy cable upside down, do you? Does the floppy's light stay on?
Old 03-12-06, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by X
You don't have the floppy cable upside down, do you? Does the floppy's light stay on?
I've tried virtually every combination of floppy cable install without luck. The light does not even come on regardless of which configuration I used. Before I reset the mobo, I was able to boot to the new WinXP install using the new HDD, but the floppy couldn't read anything. I would double-click the drive in "My Computer", and the light would come on, but it would say "Please insert a disk into drive A." I tried about 10 different disks that work fine on my laptop, as well as a boot disk that the clerk at CompUSA was nice enough to make for me.
Old 03-12-06, 09:04 PM
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If you want to use your same processor and everything else, I would highly recommend this board

http://www.msicomputer.com/product/p...tion)&class=mb

If you want to go ahead and do a complete upgrade, now is probably the time
Old 03-12-06, 09:24 PM
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If all three boards have failed in the same case with the same PSU, I'd take another look at those parts. Even the worst board vendor I ever dealt with (Epox) never had failure rates that high. If you have a no name PSU, you might want to try swapping it out.

I assume you've already tried resetting the BIOS to factory defaults. If you want to try reflashing the BIOS, see if you can boot to a USB floppy drive. Though on an unstable system, flashing the BIOS is always a risky proposition.

FWIW, I haven't found Maxtor drives to be any more problematic than Seagate, WD, or Hitachi. We've cycled through using all of them in our RAID sets and they're all about equally reliable. We do like WD better though, because their RMA center is very close to us and we usually get advanced replacement drives within 2 days of the request whereas Maxtor and Seagate are more like a week.
Old 03-12-06, 09:39 PM
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Did you take the CMOS battery out and short the pins that clear the CMOS?
Old 03-12-06, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by belboz
If all three boards have failed in the same case with the same PSU, I'd take another look at those parts. Even the worst board vendor I ever dealt with (Epox) never had failure rates that high. If you have a no name PSU, you might want to try swapping it out.
The 3 Asus boards I lost were in 3 different cases with different PSUs: (1) my office PC, which I replaced with a Dell workstation when the drive failed since all the important data is on my office server anyway, (2) my home theater PC, which has been sitting idle since the mobo failed, and (3) now my home PC. The PSU in this particular case is an Antec Truepower 430.

Did you take the CMOS battery out and short the pins that clear the CMOS?
No, I just reset the board using the jumper. I have no idea how to do what you suggested (other than taking the battery out which seems pretty simple).
Old 03-12-06, 11:51 PM
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If you just take the battery out it could take a day or so for the CMOS to clear. If you look at the manual (http://dlsvr03.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/...4b266c-101.pdf) you can see where to short the pins and the CMOS will be cleared immediately. The jumper reset you did may be the same thing as shorting the pins but you need to remove the battery too.

Page 2-23 of the manual shows you how to do this.
Old 03-13-06, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by X
If you just take the battery out it could take a day or so for the CMOS to clear. If you look at the manual (http://dlsvr03.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/...4b266c-101.pdf) you can see where to short the pins and the CMOS will be cleared immediately. The jumper reset you did may be the same thing as shorting the pins but you need to remove the battery too.

Page 2-23 of the manual shows you how to do this.
After my last reply, I googled shorting the pins as you suggested. It was the same area that I shorted last time, only I hadn't removed the battery. This time I did, as well as unplug the power cable from the PSU, and the CMOS seemed to clear when I re-entered it. It didn't work (same "Floppy disk(s) fail (40)" error on reboot), but obviously I only gave it a few minutes without the battery. I'll try it again when I get home from work tomorrow after leaving the battery out all night/day.
Old 03-13-06, 12:16 AM
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If you took out the battery and shorted (or jumpered) the pins you did enough. No need to keep the battery out for a day.

You should have seen all your previous settings clear from the BIOS. But if you did that and you're still having problems that wasn't the answer.
Old 03-13-06, 12:29 AM
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PROGRESS!! I have a working floppy drive! The problem was the power cable leading to the floppy. I found an old adapter (that goes from a large 4-pin power connector to a small 4-pin used by the floppy drives). Once I tried it, the floppy worked fine, and I was able to boot using a DOS startup disk.

With my old HDD as the only drive in my box, I tried to run fdisk from the DOS diskette to see if there are any partitions present, but fdisk states "No fixed disks present."
Old 03-13-06, 12:49 AM
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Now that I have a working floppy, is there any reason to flash the BIOS? Here is the specs:

Award Medallion BIOS v6.0
ACPI BIOS revision 1004

The drive continues to spin seemingly fine on every boot, but:

(1) The BIOS setup screen is unable to detect the drive.
(2) Fdisk cannot find a hard drive present.
(3) I also bought a copy of System Mechanic 6 today which claims to have some hard drive repair capabilities. It also is not finding my HDD.
Old 03-13-06, 12:59 AM
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Is the channel your drive is on set to Auto in the BIOS?
Old 03-13-06, 01:32 AM
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Yes, but I've also tried manually setting the drive parameters as well.
Old 03-13-06, 01:57 AM
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I'm not sure if this is relevant, but despite the BIOS, fdisk, etc. not recognizing the drive as present, I am getting the following on various boot attempts:

Legend:
OldHDD= non-working IBM Deskstar drive with XP Pro installed.
NewHDD=new Maxtor drive with XP Pro installed.

Scenario #1: OldHDD set to device 0 master, NewHDD not connected. BIOS does not recognize OldHDD and System hangs stating "Disk Boot Failure".

Scenario #2: NewHDD set to device 0 master, OldHDD not connected. BIOS will recognize NewHDD and the system boots fine to the new XP install.

Scenario #3: NewHDD set to device 0 master, OldHDD set to device 1 slave (I've also tried "cable select"). BIOS will not recognize either drive, and I get "Disk Boot Failure".

EDIT: More bad news. I had a lot of files on 2 other drives I had on my system, connected using a Promise Ultra 133 TX card. During this process up to this point, I had removed the drives and the Promise card, but I put them back in to see if I could get to my data with the new XP install. However, with the card and drives installed, the system locks up on boot, just before the XP splash screen. It also locks up in a DOS boot. It will, however, boot if I leave the Promise card in place but unplug the drives on it. I did this and installed a new driver for the Promise card, but that didn't help. I was able to see one of the drives using the System Mechanic hard drive software (it boots from the CDRom in a DOS window), which said the partition still exists on the drive it sees.

In summary, the problem is not limited just to my old boot drive, but apparently ALL 3 of my old drives. I thought this may signal an electrical surge (but I have an APC Backups 500), or a virus that perhaps got past Trend Micro. I should also say that this happened the day after I returned from a 2-week out of town trip, during which my home PC was completely shut down.

Last edited by TexasGuy; 03-13-06 at 03:26 AM.

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