Ever Had 2 HDD's (Out Of 3) Fail Simultaneously?

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#1
The chances of this are so remote.

This morning my system took ages to boot and pressing TAB during POST told me that it was having trouble detecting any hard drives beyond the 1st - my main one (Vista's 1 and 2).

Indeed they didn't appear in the computer at all and when I checked, not in the BIOS either.

I checked all my connections - OK. Unplugged them one by one as I had no idea which physical drive was which inside the case. Finally got that sorted out and now the system boots OK to the original main drive as long as I keep the other 2 (1 500GB had 2 Win 7 partitions on it, and 1 1TB storage drive) disconnected.

They are not detected if I reconnect them, even in the BIOS.

What are the chances of 2 drives going kerploink at once? I thought perhaps it was the power supply, but they share with other components so that idea is out, I think.

Could my motherboard be in the fritz or should I just go ahead and replace them and hope the new ones work?

No clues in Device Manager either. I even checked EasyBCD (latest build) and that didn't help either.

Thoughts folks before I emigrate to an isolated monastery in Tibet to contemplate my navel for the rest of my days....better that than the current feeling of throwing the damn machine out of the window??

I'm awaiting a call from Alienware Support as they may still be under warranty, not sure. They are Seagate SATA drives by the way. Always used Western Digital before this machine.

EDIT: I've found the culprit is the 1TB storage drive. If that is connected it causes the slow boot and hides both itself and the second OS drive. Hopefully Alienware TS will replace it.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#2
multiple HDDs failing simultaneously !
I wouldn't think it likely.
More likely to be a problem on the Second channel of the ATA controller.
You know your main system is OK and the SATA port it's connected to.
Try disconnecting the 2 unused HDDs, and boot each of the others (if they're bootable), one at a time on the good SATA port.
Then try booting the good HDD on each of the SATA ports in turn with no other HDDs connected.
That way you should be able to say definitively where the problem lies.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#3
Thanks Terry. I just edited my post above. It seems that the storage drive wont even power up. I even tried to do that externally using some gadgets I have for that purpose.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#4
Terry,

I do have a question though. I just noticed this....Alienware for some unknown reason have left the jumper block in place on my SATA HDD's to limit their transfer rate to 1.5gb/s. See pic below.

Block off means 'Normal Operation' i.e. 3gb/s which is what the motherboard is capable of from the specs (SATA II).

Why would they do that, can you think of any good reason? I'm not using RAID by the way.

I have read mixed reports on the benefits and how it may render the drives unbootable, so haven't attempted to remove it yet.
 

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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#5
I'd take it off.
It's there to enable use of the drive on an old slow mobo.
I can't see it can do anything but good.
(and you can always put it back)
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#6
True. I'll give it a try at least. I'll do that when I replace the storage drive. Thanks.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#7
You may have an option in the BIOS to wait a certain amount of time for your data disks to power up. You could try increasing it and seeing if that helps, though I honesty doubt it'll make any difference seeing as it *used* to work.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#8
Yes, there's a setting of a max of 35 seconds for all disks to power up and that is actually its default setting.

The data disk is shot. I took it out and powered it up using my data transfer gadget. The disk spins OK but I can't hear the head seeking at all, so that's what's broken. Pity, I can't even erase it before I dispose of it, although there isn't anything vulnerable on it as far as I recall.

Thanks guys for the ideas.

Alienware (now Dell) have NOT called me back so have gone ahead and ordered a replacement from Newegg which had a special on Western Digital drives.

Addendum:

A/W never called me so have gone ahead and ordered a new WD 1TB drive from Newegg as it was on special. They probably wouldn't honour the warranty anyway with all the mods I've done. They are weird. They allow you to overclock to your hearts content, which everyone knows can kill a machine, yet they don't allow you to flash the BIOS without Technical Support holding your hand, or add hardware 'that may interfere with the machine's function' whatever that means.

I took a look this morning and the jumper blocks are removed on the two existing system drives so I don't have to be concerned with that - everything works fine.
 
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JustinW

Super Moderator
Staff member
#9
Don't allow you to flash the BIOS? They offer the BIOS updates on their site so they haft to honor any warranties if thats the only disqualifying argument. Besides, its not like they're going to come and examine your machine :smile:
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#10
Don't allow you to flash the BIOS? They offer the BIOS updates on their site so they haft to honor any warranties if thats the only disqualifying argument. Besides, its not like they're going to come and examine your machine :smile:
It's all moot anyway as I don't seem to be able to raise Alienware Support. My model, being the top of the (then) line and just pre-Dell takeover, has it's own department we are supposed to call. They are still there in their pre-Dell cupboard somewhere, but where God knows.
Last time I called them I managed to get hold of an American guy...in Ecuador. Go figure.

Yes it's in the terms of the warranty. All BIOS updates have to be supervised despite being the easiest thing to do using the ASUSUpdate Utility & taking approximately 5 minutes. The BIOS updates for my motherboard (ASUS P6T Deluxe V2) on their site are hopelessly out of date (at least 2 versions old) and I now use the ASUS ones anyway.

It's absurd as they allow customers to do their own overclocking, which is inherently more dangerous. A bad BIOS update can always be reversed by pulling the CMOS battery for a while, but melting computer parts is a one-way street.

I still have to use the old Alienware "My Hive" for support as I bought mine before support went over to Dell and as I don't have a service tag number from Dell I can't use theirs.
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#11
Takeovers suck for the consumers. Same thing happened to me ages ago when HP bought Compaq.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#12
Yes - the same thing. Support for me is an answering service and it seems calls aren't always returned.