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  • Primary hard drive failure?

    So, today, after I started up my 8 year old Dell Optiplex GX110 I opened up Internet Explorer, typed in www.hotmail.com into the web browser and then a few seconds after the page began to load my computer started making a very loud grinding noise, almost a thudding. I didn't even realize a computer could make a sound like that. My computer then rebooted itself and I got a message saying "Primary harddrive error". It gave me the option of going into setup or rebooting the computer again. I tried rebooting, but it didn't work. I then simply turned off the computer and turned it back on. It turned on okay and I'm typing this using the same computer. What would cause this? There are also three problems I've been having lately with my computer that may or may not be related to this.

    1.Whenever I start up my computer the startup and setup screens are a third covered up with a blackish purple blob. When I first saw this I thought the monitor was broken as it almost looks like a third of the pixels are simply dead, but as soon as Windows loads the purple blob of color disappears.

    2.I am very frequently getting messages that I am low on virtual memory and that Windows is increasing the size of my virtual memory. These messages often appear as soon as Windows starts up.

    3.Internet Explorer freezes rather frequently while trying to load web pages.

    Are any of these things related? What can I do to fix my problems?

  • #2
    Re: Primary hard drive failure?

    Save all your data IMMEDIATELY!!! Don't forget Internet Explorer Favorites, Email, email settings like pop.mail.com etc, and any settings for other applications.

    You machine is 8 years old so you may have a hard drive (HDD) that is about to die or the PC may be about to leave this mortal coil. The grinding noises my have been a power supply fan, case or CPU fan though I think that Dell model uses the case fan to draw air over the large heat sink on the CPU.

    As to how to fix your problem, a new PC would be a good start. I would imagine you are running Windows 98 on this device and IE6. Both of these programs are very old and full of security flaws and a new machine would allow you to upgrade. You could even get a reasonably good secondhand system that would run Windows XP. For example, here in Melbourne (OZ), I can get an HP DC7100 (P4-3.0GHz HT) with 1GB DDR, 40GB HDD, DVD Burner and XP Pro installed for AUD$229 (monitor extra). 17" LCD for AUS$110

    You could give your machine a good clean out, make sure it is totally dust free, especially in the power supply and case fan, and assuming it is a faulty HDD, get a new HDD and reinstall the operating system and applications. You should be able to use the copy of Windows 98 because the number on the COA sticker on the Dell case is tied to that motherboard.

    Personally I would look at a new machine that will have the specs to run Windows 7 when it is released. Dual or Quad Core (or even an i7), 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD (or bigger), onboard video if you don't play games or do any graphics work and a 19" (22" if you have the budget) wide screen LCD. Someone else will have to recommend a video card as I have no idea about them. (Gee, I must work with servers). Make sure the CPU supports Virtual Technology because with the appropriate version of Windows 7 you can run Windows XP Pro SP3 in virtual mode so you can run any older applications that don't like Vista & Windows 7. See the Windows 7 Forum for more info about this.
    1 1 was a racehorse.
    2 2 was 1 2.
    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
    2 2 1 1 2

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Primary hard drive failure?

      I would suggest that you get a new hard drive and clone the old hard drive to the new one and save yourself the trouble of installing the OS and all your applications on the new drive.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Primary hard drive failure?

        Originally posted by joeqwerty View Post
        I would suggest that you get a new hard drive and clone the old hard drive to the new one and save yourself the trouble of installing the OS and all your applications on the new drive.
        Oh Joe, no, no ,no, nono. Cloning is just going to pull across any garbage and any corruption that has built up in the machine during the last 8 years. Also, what happens when the imaging software comes across a bad sector. I know for sure Ghost will spit it out and stop.

        Forgot to mention in my first post, never type www.hotmail.com again. just type hotmail then hold the CTRL key and press ENTER. It saves you 6 keystrokes (8 minus the CTRL + ENTER) and reduced wear and tear on the w an . keys.
        1 1 was a racehorse.
        2 2 was 1 2.
        1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
        2 2 1 1 2

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Primary hard drive failure?

          Granted there will be a lot of detritus but my immediate concern would be getting the old drive cloned to a new drive before it dies. Cleaning up the drive before cloning it may put more stress on it and cause it to fail before the cleanup is finished. Most new drives come with cloning software that presumably can deal with bad sectors and if not there are a number of free programs available.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Primary hard drive failure?

            Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
            Save all your data IMMEDIATELY!!! Don't forget Internet Explorer Favorites, Email, email settings like pop.mail.com etc, and any settings for other applications.

            You machine is 8 years old so you may have a hard drive (HDD) that is about to die or the PC may be about to leave this mortal coil. The grinding noises my have been a power supply fan, case or CPU fan though I think that Dell model uses the case fan to draw air over the large heat sink on the CPU.

            As to how to fix your problem, a new PC would be a good start. I would imagine you are running Windows 98 on this device and IE6. Both of these programs are very old and full of security flaws and a new machine would allow you to upgrade. You could even get a reasonably good secondhand system that would run Windows XP. For example, here in Melbourne (OZ), I can get an HP DC7100 (P4-3.0GHz HT) with 1GB DDR, 40GB HDD, DVD Burner and XP Pro installed for AUD$229 (monitor extra). 17" LCD for AUS$110

            You could give your machine a good clean out, make sure it is totally dust free, especially in the power supply and case fan, and assuming it is a faulty HDD, get a new HDD and reinstall the operating system and applications. You should be able to use the copy of Windows 98 because the number on the COA sticker on the Dell case is tied to that motherboard.

            Personally I would look at a new machine that will have the specs to run Windows 7 when it is released. Dual or Quad Core (or even an i7), 4GB DDR3, 500GB HDD (or bigger), onboard video if you don't play games or do any graphics work and a 19" (22" if you have the budget) wide screen LCD. Someone else will have to recommend a video card as I have no idea about them. (Gee, I must work with servers). Make sure the CPU supports Virtual Technology because with the appropriate version of Windows 7 you can run Windows XP Pro SP3 in virtual mode so you can run any older applications that don't like Vista & Windows 7. See the Windows 7 Forum for more info about this.
            Well, I can't really afford a new PC right now. I do have a laptop though that I could use if my desktop does die. Anyway, how exactly would I back up everything on my hard drive? I have a flash drive and a zip disc. How much do you think I could fit on those?

            I'll try cleaning the dust out of my computer tomorrow. How much do you think a new hard drive would cost versus a new PC?

            Assuming my PC does die though, what would I do with it? I mean, would you recommend I keep it to use for spare parts or should I just toss the whole thing in the garbage? What about the monitor? I doubt it would be compatible with too many new computers and considering it's eight years old, I doubt it has much more life left than the computer.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Primary hard drive failure?

              New hard drive (depending on size) is about 60 vs 250 for a minimal new PC (no monitor)
              Your flash drive will have a capacity e.g. 1Gb and your Zip drive is either 100 or 250 Mb, so will probably not be enough (how big is your current hard drive?)

              But don't ask yourself about the price, ask yourself how much is your data worth and what would you not be able to do if you lost it all

              8 years old -- get your data backed up and junk the whole PC (monitor may be OK still and should still work OK)
              Tom Jones
              MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
              PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
              IT Trainer / Consultant
              Ossian Ltd
              Scotland

              ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                The question really is: Does the pc (notwithstanding the current problem) do what you need it to do and are you satisfied with the performance? Is there anything you need that the current pc lacks? If your answers are yes and no (in that order) then recommending that you get a new pc is a disservice to you.

                If I have a car that's 8 years old and it needs a new engine, is it good advice to tell me to just buy a new car if I can buy an engine at a fraction of the price of a new car and if I'm satisfied with the car (except for the engine problem)? No, it's not.

                Again, if you're satisfied with the pc then get a new drive, clone the old drive or backup your data and restore it to the new drive after you've got everything installed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                  Comparing a car to a PC is like comparing human years to dog years.

                  Data backup will put less strain on a dying HDD (assuming it is dying) than cloning the WHOLE drive. Just imagine the read/write head(s) thrashing back and forward across a heavily fragmented drive (another assumption).

                  The important thing at the moment is to get your data backed up. Once that has been done and you have 2 copies of it, then you can look at what options you have for either a replacement or repair.
                  1 1 was a racehorse.
                  2 2 was 1 2.
                  1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                  2 2 1 1 2

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                    Well then it's a difference of opinion on this one. I believe that a clone will be less demanding as it's going to copy sector by sector as opposed to a clean up/data copy which is going to have to seek back and forth, back and forth, etc., etc. I still think it's a disservice to recommend buying a new pc because the hard drive in this one is failing. Just because it's 8 years old doesn't justify the recommendation to buy new if the current one suits the needs of the OP.

                    I'm not trying to be rude, of course. Just wanted to state my opinion.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                      Originally posted by Ossian View Post
                      New hard drive (depending on size) is about 60 vs 250 for a minimal new PC (no monitor)
                      Your flash drive will have a capacity e.g. 1Gb and your Zip drive is either 100 or 250 Mb, so will probably not be enough (how big is your current hard drive?)

                      But don't ask yourself about the price, ask yourself how much is your data worth and what would you not be able to do if you lost it all

                      8 years old -- get your data backed up and junk the whole PC (monitor may be OK still and should still work OK)
                      My hard drive is 19 GB. It's only about 12 GB full, so should I just buy 12 flash drives and back it up that way? How much does each flash drive cost, anyway? To be honest though, have so much crap on my PC that I really don't need that I don't know if it's worth saving. I know I want to save all of my Word files and all of my mp3s. And I want to save program files like Adobe Acrobat and Framemaker and stuff, but I'm not sure there's that much else on my hard drive that I'll really miss. I mean, I have a bunch of games on there, but I don't really play videogames much anymore.

                      Originally posted by joeqwerty View Post
                      The question really is: Does the pc (notwithstanding the current problem) do what you need it to do and are you satisfied with the performance? Is there anything you need that the current pc lacks? If your answers are yes and no (in that order) then recommending that you get a new pc is a disservice to you.

                      If I have a car that's 8 years old and it needs a new engine, is it good advice to tell me to just buy a new car if I can buy an engine at a fraction of the price of a new car and if I'm satisfied with the car (except for the engine problem)? No, it's not.

                      Again, if you're satisfied with the pc then get a new drive, clone the old drive or backup your data and restore it to the new drive after you've got everything installed.
                      Yeah, I'm pretty satisfied with my current pc. I mean, yeah, every so often there will be a program I can't run or a streaming video that lags, but for the most part it does what I need it to. Again, I have a laptop that's a little newer that I could use if my desktop dies.

                      Anyway, I dusted my desktop today, and man, there was a lot of dust. There were even a few cobwebs in the back. Should I try to dust the inside, too? I tried getting the cover off, but that thing is on pretty good. Is there some trick to taking it off?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                        You can buy one 8GB USB stick for less than $50.00 US. That's probably more than big enough for all of your data.

                        As far as your programs are concerned (like Adobe Acrobat), you can't transfer them from the old hard drive to the new hard drive. You need the installation media and you'll have to install them on the new hard drive.

                        As far as cleaning the inside it's always a good idea but for a pc that's 8 years old and hasn't been cracked open in years, you may be asking for trouble. My brother-in-law recently cracked his case open after several years of neglect and proceeded to short out a diode on his hard drive while vacuuming it. I would recommend using an anti-static wrist wrap and mat before venturing inside. Blow out as much dust as possible before resorting to a vacuum.

                        As far as getting the case open, it's dependent on the make and model. Look for screws on the back, top, and bottom and look for latches as well.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                          You can easily get flash drives up to 16 GB these days
                          (probably bigger...)
                          Tom Jones
                          MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
                          PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
                          IT Trainer / Consultant
                          Ossian Ltd
                          Scotland

                          ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                            SanDisk has an 8GB stick for $44.99.
                            Crucial has 8GB sticks as low as $22.99.
                            BestBuy has 8GB sticks as low as $43.99.

                            16GB sticks start to push $100.00, so if you don't need and won't need that much space I would recommend going with a smaller, cheaper stick.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Primary hard drive failure?

                              32GB drives are available but a 2.5" HDD would be cheaper, be better value for money and more versitile. With Windows 98 you will need the USB drivers to get the USB device, whichever you may choose, to work.

                              Originally posted by biggles77
                              You could give your machine a good clean out, make sure it is totally dust free, especially in the power supply and case fan, and assuming it is a faulty HDD, get a new HDD and reinstall the operating system and applications.
                              1 1 was a racehorse.
                              2 2 was 1 2.
                              1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                              2 2 1 1 2

                              Comment

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