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View Full Version : SMART failure predicted on primary master

2004-12-11, 07:29
I turned on my computer and I got the message:
SMART failure predicted on primary master: Maxtor 4R060J0

WARNING: Immediately back-up your data and replace your hard disk drive. A failure may be imminent.

I looked into that error message and found that the BIOS does a quick diagnosis of the hard drive whenever you boot up the computer. If it finds errors it then warns you that your hard drive will fail soon. Such a setting must be enabled in the BIOS. In my BIOS settings there is something for enabling diagnostic mode when booting up.

I've been hearing an occasional crunching noise coming from the computer for the last several months now, but only now did I get the SMART message. At one point I took apart the computer thinking it was a cable touching the processor's fan, but was surprised to find it was a crunching noise coming from the hard drive.

I read somewhere that the hard drive has its most wear when you first power up your computer getting the disc up to speed, and that the best thing for your computer is to leave it on all the time rather than turning it on and off. Older versions of Windows came with the power option of having the hard drive turn off after a certain period of time enabled by default, but with XP that is off by default. You should check to see your settings in Control Panel-->Power Options to see that your hard drive always stays on.

Have you had a hard drive fail before? I once installed Windows 98 on my father's computer, at a time when 13 GB hard drives were selling for $150 back in 1999. I put it on a Seagate 1.6 GB hard drive that was my old one after getting the newer 13 GB one for my own use. And maybe a week later the thing failed and he lost all his files or programs. His wife wouldn't let me on their computer after that. I had a 2.6 GB Western Digital hard drive fail on me in 2001 after I got an old computer from someone at work, so I replaced that with a 30 GB unit. Again that one also failed about a week after being transplanted from one computer to another, like the one I gave to my father. I wonder how much the power supplies are a factor in the deterioration of hard drives.

The head of the hard drive is kept off the surface of the rotating platter by way of the air cushion created from it spinning. But when it starts that air cushion isn't there yet, and at high altitudes the air is not dense enough either. There is some information on hard drives here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk).

So now I have an excuse to go out and buy a new hard drive. I don't even know how big they are now or what brand would be good to get. This type of thing is fun for me. Working on a computer is so much more pleasant than trying to fix a car. With a car you get problems like the one rusted bolt that takes a half hour to unscrew, or the need to go to the auto store after you've already disabled your car, to get another part or tool.

2004-12-12, 12:20
fortunately, i've never had a drive bite the dust...my pc has only been turned of, maybe, 6 times in the same number of years...

drives have gotten bigger & cheaper...if you get a huge one it may benefit you to make a few partitions so it's not having to look for crap on the entire drive...i found on my 120 gig drive creating 3 40gig partitions made a diff in seek speed

2004-12-12, 13:38

First, if you haven't done so already, backup whatever is important.

Your hard disk sounds knackered, but Before ditching it, it might be worth checking out the freeware hard disk utility PowerMax. I had a maxtor disk giving smart errors, but after using the utility, I had no more errors.


The POWERMAX.EXE utility is designed to perform diagnostic read/write verifications on Maxtor/Quantum hard drives. These tests will determine hard drive integrity. The POWERMAX.EXE utility is effective on all ATA (IDE) hard drives with a capacity greater than or equal to 500 MB. Maxtor recommends the use of this utility for troubleshooting potential hard drive problems. These problems include, but are not limited to the following:

- Potential hard drive surface problems (e.g., bad clusters, bad sectors, partitioning/formatting problems, etc.).
- Drive recognition problems (e.g. hard drive that is not recognized by the operating system).
- Software removal.

Hard disks, do you want speed or capacity?
Eg for capacity, I've got a couple of 300GB Maxtor IDE 5400rpm Hard disks I use for storage, eg DVD images/ albums on a cheap computer with a dvd / cd burner.
Eg for speed, I've got a SATA 160 GB HARD DISK @ 7200rpm 8mb cache on my gaming computer.

2004-12-12, 18:27
I booted to the PowerMax 4.09 floppy disc and it did the test of the hard drive, with the results that the hard drive is failing, diagnostic code d799a000.

I wonder how much time I have left. I'm going to Costco today and I'll try to pick one up from there if they have one. Speed is more important to me than storage size. I only use about 15 GB now.

Some dudes are compulsive downloaders and collectors, with tons of movies, but I don't download movies or watch DVDs on my computer. I have a separate p2p computer which runs constantly that is older than my main computer. So if I ever get a new computer it would replace my main one and then the main one would become my p2p computer, and the p2p computer would then be donated to someone in need.

I've had a separate devoted p2p computer running for almost 3 years, uploading 5 GB a week. Now with my increase in bandwidth it is about 10 GB a week. I wonder if I've yet uploaded 1 TB total while on p2p. Maybe the NIC will burn out at that point.

One thing to remember before removing the old hard drive would be to run the Diskzapper (http://www.diskzapper.com/) bootable CD to write zeroes to the hard drive before removing it and throwing it in the recycling bin. It takes about 50 minutes to do so on a 60 GB hard drive.

2004-12-23, 03:56
Here's an update. Not long after the last post I went out and bought a hard drive. I was in Circuit City and at first I was eyeing the 80 MB one for $90. Then I figured that the 200 GB one for $150 was a better buy, so I took that. Both were Western Digital 7200 RPM drives with 8 MB cache.

I took the 200 GB drive home and found that I couldn't boot to the Windows XP CD or load it. There is a problem with Windows XP recognizing a drive larger than 131 or 137 GB. So the next day I went out and bought a Maxtor 120 GB hard drive that was 7200 RPM and 8 MB of cache for $110, and that worked fine. I still have the 200 GB hard drive. I could put it in the computer as the Primary Slave for storage but was too lazy to take apart my computer again and put it there. Right now I don't need the space so I just have an extra hard drive stashed away.

I read that the newer version of Windows XP SP2 supports larger hard drives.