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progressive hard drive failure?
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Takilla

Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 53
Location: Lakeside and Phoenix, Arizona

PostPosted: Fri 25 Nov 2005, 14:13    Post subject:  progressive hard drive failure?  

I have installed Puppy 1.0.6 on an old IBM, old Matxtor and three older Western Digital Caviars. The WD Caviars have been failing to boot intermittantly, and now not at all, with Grub stopping at stage 1.5. BIOS says cannot find HD at this point. All are on Dell GX1s,(PIIs) and I used Dell's diagnostics, repeatedly, which show increasing read-write errors on the HDs. I have probably caused the problem due to my inexperience. Not knowing why a DOS partitian was neccessary with a linux system I instead used just a swap using cfdisk in puppy.

hda1 primary swap 128-256(depending on ram)
hda2 primary ext2 (puppy)

cfdisk does not seem to allow me to make a non-primary swap.

Any insights with this problem?
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Flash
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 11181
Location: Arizona USA

PostPosted: Fri 25 Nov 2005, 16:11    Post subject:  

Whatever the problem turns out to be, I'd be surprised if there were anything you could do with Puppy that would cause permanent damage to a hard drive.

Is it possible for a dead or dying BIOS backup battery to cause the symptoms you describe? These are pretty old computers, right?
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Takilla

Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 53
Location: Lakeside and Phoenix, Arizona

PostPosted: Fri 25 Nov 2005, 17:27    Post subject:  

Yes, they are old. I will look into the batteries and try a fresh one.

thanks.
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Ian
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 1237
Location: Queensland

PostPosted: Fri 25 Nov 2005, 17:34    Post subject:  

It could be the cable but I would say that the WD's are RS try another HD.
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aahhaaa


Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 341
Location: Lower Michigan, North America

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 00:52    Post subject:  

I'd change the CMOS battery too; then you know its not that and you're set for another 3 years. You can dl WD's Data Lifeguard & Maxtor's MaxBlast, which are handy to have and do diagnostics, clone drives, etc.

I'd swap in another IDE cable too. Thing is, you are getting the symptoms on all drives, right? Are you using 40 pin or 80 pin cables?

You might also try partitioning out one of the drives with a very small initial FAT32 boot partition, but then set as a slave drive, then write intensively (fill it) to that in Windows a couple times and see what kind of errors you get.

Are you geting any of the clinking, clattering collection of coliginous junk noises of a dying HD?
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Sage

Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 4833
Location: GB

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 04:33    Post subject:  

It would be a shame if the urban myth about CMOS batteries should infect these fora. A dead battery will only stop one or two very old proprietary boards from starting up. Best idea is to remove it completely. Of course, it will be necessary to set up all the BIOS parameters every time the mains is switched off but many folks leave their machines on standby, so the CMOS will remain saved. There are issues with CMOS, like SiS735 boards, but, again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the battery.
Dead and dying HDs are a separate issue. Everything that moves will eventually fail - by definition. Frictional wear demands no less. If it doesn't have S.M.A.R.T., then use one of the manufacturers diagnostic utilities (sadly, only available in 'doze flavours). Notwithstanding, I am still using discs that have S.M.A.R.T. warning signatures, fail manufacturers tests, are noisy and/or have bad sectors. It is usually possible to write out bad areas using partitioning and formatting utilities. Dead HDs are another insult to the environment. In the early days, they could be returned for reconditioning (the technology is extremely simple - open one and see!) or for recycling and with credit against a new one. It's time to stop throwing stuff away! And if you think that comment is directed against one nation in particular, you are correct!
I am wondering if Takkie has been reading other recent discussions here, for example.
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ezeze5000


Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 346
Location: Missouri U.S.A

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 09:08    Post subject: recycling hard drives  

I tinker on old computers all the time.

When I get several bad hard drives I get out the hot glue gun and
stack several drives on top of each other and glue them together, they
make great door stops!

I also take those old bad MFM 10-20 mb hard drives, pull the front cover and make clocks out of them. Pull the drive motor out and put in clock guts,
stick some numbers on those shiny disk platters and you have a great conversation piece. I put together an 80 mb full size drive the other day, it will look great on somebody's fireplace mantel.

We (my kids) recycle old CDs too, (all those old AOL, PeoplePC, Walmart Connect, Etc...) they make great christmas decorations. Gorilla glue works real good for glueing them together. I plan on getting a scroll saw, then I can make real fancy decorations.

Anyway I've started rambling (Sorry)
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Ian
Official Dog Handler


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 1237
Location: Queensland

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 09:26    Post subject:  

Have you tried the old trick of putting the CDs in a microwave for a couple of secs to give them that crinkley look, they also make great clock faces.
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Sage

Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 4833
Location: GB

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 10:31    Post subject:  

Old cpu s and other components can be encapuslated in acrylic to make contemporary jewelry - testament to the age.
For clocks, battery movements can be obtained for a pound or so from cpc.co.uk over here. I'm sure there are similar companies in Oz and the USA.
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kethd

Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 451
Location: Boston MA USA

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 10:49    Post subject: Working with Old Hard Drives  

Back to the original question about old hard drives...

I have reused thousands of them. As you work with older computers more, it is not that hard to separate hard drive issues from other matters such as CMOS. When in doubt, get some more old computers and start swapping things around! The most convenient mainboard batteries are replaceable CR2032 3V coin cells. It is really only an issue when you first power up the computer; you can always go in to the BIOS settings and make sure things are OK. Some mainboard batteries can be expensive or difficult to replace; usually it is possible to add an external battery, and you can hack something cheap with AA batteries.

The best tool I know of for checking out old hard drives is Gibson's SpinRite http://grc.com/spinrite.htm (Haven't tried the new 6.0 version.) It can be quite slow, but so what if it runs all night? The big drawbacks to that program are that it does cost, it will only check a partitioned drive, and it chokes on too many bad spots.

I get around the partitioning problem by using Ghost to restore an almost-empty partition. This does an implicit fake format, so SpinRite is then willing to run.

I have never found any tool that is great at quickly scanning a hard drive with substantial bad spots, and sorting out the wheat from the chaff. I've dreamed of writing one -- anyone ever heard of one? (The perfect tool would quickly map the bad areas, then give you a nice easy GUI for setting up partitions in the good parts.)

If you have big bad spots, Partition Magic allows you to manually use just the good parts, and stay the hell away from the bad neighborhoods (they seem to spread continguously -- it would be good to understand better what is really going on in there). But it gets quite tedious. My recommendation is, unless you are totally crazy, stick with using just that first X% or last x% as a partial partition, to avoid known bad parts.

Many computer tools refuse to tell you the real truth. If you do a Windows format of a hard drive, if you watch and listen carefully, you will get good information about which areas of the drive are running great and which areas are going downhill. But some of the messages about soft errors just flash up briefly, and leave no record afterwards, so you have to watch carefully and take notes. Another great tool I use for this is WIPE, a simple program that just writes all ZEROES to the physical device. Not only does this quickly bypass all messing around with deleting partitions to start fresh, but by listening to the drive you will hear the areas that have glitches. If there are serious problems the program will halt.

========
Don't miss this incredible Coaster-CD toy:
http://www.retrothing.com/2005/11/build_your_own_.html

Quote:
Build Your Own Gramophone

Gakken Gramophone
Check out this $60 build-it-yourself Japanese gramophone kit from VeryCoolThings.com. Talk about a unique way to destroy your soon-to-be Ex's CD collection!

Assuming you have the manual dexterity to successfully complete the exercise, you'll be rewarded with a gramophone recorder/player that uses old CDs as recording platters. Simply place a fresh CD on the platter, speak into the paper cup, and your voice is cheerfully etched into the surface of an unsuspecting and unwanted CD.

The company also makes an Edison-style player that scratches sound onto a spinning plastic cup, much like Edison's famous wax cylinder recorders. [Thanks to Bohus Blahut for the tip!]

Gakken Emile Berliner Gramophone Turntable (VCT)
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Sage

Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 4833
Location: GB

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 11:23    Post subject:  

Quite fascinating, ket - we are on the same wavelength (and I know from his writings that BK shares similar sentiments which led to his development of this distro).
Like you, I've never found any quick way of identifying bad HD areas - laborious trial and error.
Although advice about not opening up drives outside a cleanroom is well given, it's worth a try. Wear a facemask! I've been surprised to find that there is often NO physical damage at all. Sometimes the arm sticks at one of its limits and can be released by brute force. Sometimes the platters can be cleaned with glass cleaner and long-fibre lens wipes. Generally, some parts remain irretrievably lost, so I suspect that this may be due to magnetic irregularities as there is not always any optical degradation present (examination with lens and moire` patterns, etc.). I also suspect that there may be magnetic damage to the embedded tracks, about which very little can be done outside of a manufacturer's laboratory. [They don't seem to offer to take drives back for realignment any longer!].
Notwithstanding, a 20Gb disc with 50% unusable sectors is still extremely valuable for Linux. Generally, after extensive marking, it will become evident whether it's all been worthwhile within a very short time. If new bad areas are constantly appearing - give up. If not, you may achieve a doubling in life, or more.
To what other uses might a totally dead drive be put?

Last edited by Sage on Sun 27 Nov 2005, 03:12; edited 1 time in total
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kethd

Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 451
Location: Boston MA USA

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 11:54    Post subject: Open Drive Surgery!?  

Sage -- Have you really opened a hard drive, cleaned it, closed it up, with no cleanroom, and had it work? For any length of time? At all? Amazing!!!

(Spectators -- Don't Try This At Home -- Unless you are a crazy experimenter and are SURE that you have nothing to use.)

I'd love to hear all of your best tips and advice on what you do to clean the air etc as well as you can in the field before sealing the drive. Or do you even try operating it open?

I have heard of freezing hard drives to make one last try to get the info off. I have heard of swapping electronic boards if you can get an exact replacement, to try to recover the data. I have never heard of any substantial success at opening and cleaning them without very specialized equipment!

I think you meant 20GB, not 20MB -- half of 20GB is still a useful amount.

The way IDE hard drives automagically remap bad sectors makes learning what is really going on in there quite hard.

Although I have not opened up drives, there are things to do with the parts. You might want to experiment with the positioning mechanism - steppers maybe? The platters are pretty. And the magnets are quite wonderful, I have heard -- quite strong?
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Sage

Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 4833
Location: GB

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 12:28    Post subject:  

There's no real magic about opening drives as long as there aren't any kids, pets running around in the house stirring up dust! Work in the kitchen which is more moist so supports less dust particles? Face mask, keep fairly still, keep the lid open for minimum amount of time, etc. There is a rudimentary filter in the side wall - they aren't sealed, there's airflow, so that there's pressure equalisation at all times. If it aint working, there's not much to lose! I've not had a lot of luck with the deep freeze method, but dropping on a hard floor from six foot can help unstick the arm! There are some utilities to strip info from nearly dead drives, but I've not had much success so far. Contact me and I'll email-attach them for you.
I've never managed to get an identical pcb to swap when the electronics fail, although I have succeeded in repairing some smd components; but then again, there have been failures!
Stepper motors from MFM types are fun, but there's a limit to the amount of motors, magnets to store unless worthwhile new applications can be devised.
You are correct - 20Gb.

Last edited by Sage on Sun 27 Nov 2005, 03:14; edited 1 time in total
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kethd

Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 451
Location: Boston MA USA

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov 2005, 16:46    Post subject: Uses for Salvaged Hard Drive Parts  

Search otherpower.com for "hard drive" and "hard disk" for ideas about building generators etc from salvaged computer magnets.

And other hard drive parts are also special:
Quote:
On the rotor shaft, I would like to suggest using a motor spindle out
of a computer hard drive. It is the most precision and free-spinning
bearing one can get...period. (accurate to .00001). You will likely
need to remove the ring magnet from the hard drive motor to get rid
of the drag produced by it. The discs (platters) themselves can be
used for mounting magnets to for a rotor. The beauty of this is that
they (the platters) are all the exact same size and interchangeable so
you can experiment with different configurations on the same rotor
spindle...and you wont find a more flat & balanced rotor anywhere.
The hard drive spindle can easily be glued down (Shoe-Goo works
excellent) to the main board. (may I suggest Shoe Goo (AKA:
Sportsman's Goop), for all magnet gluing for that matter...they WONT
pop off!)

There are many precision parts readily available in computer hard
drives for this kind of thing. I have built several magnet motor test
beds using these readily-available parts. A hard drive is a
virtual "magnet motor starter kit in a box" . Besides the perfect
rotor spindle, there are many other components: springs, coils, and
even some neo magnets inside. Check it out for yourself. I would
suggest taking apart a few to get a good 'stockpile' of parts to work
with.

Computer recycling centers usually have hundreds of old drives to
pick through...usually free or next to.
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Sage

Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 4833
Location: GB

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov 2005, 03:22    Post subject:  

Thanks, I'll look into that. I had in mind some eco projects. Wind power is under-researched, even though the literature is awash. Buy a house with a stream in the back garden! Parabolic solar reflector using CDRoms?
Shame that adhesive is given a commercial handle. It would help globally if we use generic type names, viz: hot melt, epoxy, impact, etc.
PS. Otherpower is interesting, but a bit basic and in need of a major rewrite. We are considering using old PC parts for novel electric bike designs. We need to locate a tame motor design expert to develop a radical new approach.
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