Mysterious Hard Drive

Nicholas Leippe nick at
Mon Mar 16 15:19:35 MDT 2009

On Mon Mar 16 2009 14:49:34 Jones, Scott (GE Money, consultant) wrote:
> Sasha:
> Yes, the BIOS sees each drive, listing the drive Model Number, size, all
> that information accurately. If I boot with a live cd, and run gparted,
> gparted will show the geometry etc.. All the data about the hard drive,
> plus the partitions currently on the drive, on each drive. I have just
> one drive in right now, want to get one going at a time, and I will
> recheck the cable connections when I am back at my home desk. The cables
> are all new and have all worked fine until a week or two ago, when I
> decided to 'improve' things, causing my current mess.
> Thanks for the reminders. I am going to try Nicholas' hdparm -I
> suggestion too, and then report on that response.

If gparted can see the partition table, there's no need to check for security 
settings--they are not enabled. If the ATA security were on, you would not be 
able to read even a single sector w/o authenticating and unlocking the device 
first. Some bioses will do this transparently "for" you, if you set a bios 
security password--and then the problem would show up if you moved the drive 
to another motherboard--since it would remain locked.

At this point, I'm not sure what your symptoms indicate. I would definitely 
check your cabling--perhaps you are experiencing timeouts when transferring 
larger amounts of data than the single first block. Bad cabling can do that, 
so can bad drivers.

Is the drive PATA or SATA? If it is SATA, you might want to force the linux 
kernel to enumerate it as such, there can be degraded performance in some 
combinations if the ide driver claims a SATA drive. You can do this by 
specifying the kernel arg:  hda=noprobe
(assuming the drive is primary master)
In some cases bios settings need to be fiddled with.

Also, a failing powersupply could produce these symptoms--when the drive 
starts working it increases the load, which could be hitting the tipping point 
on the powersupply causing the voltage to be reduced on one or more other 
rails, causing who-knows-what. I have experienced this personally. Not fun.
In my case, I had three drives in a raid5, and they kept randomly dropping out 
of the array. Furtunately I did not lose any data from the fiasco--but I very 
well could have.

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