Drive responding intermittently

I have a 320 gb caviar SE16 drive, nearly 3 years old ( wd3200aaks ).  In just the past few days it started behaving intermittently, and has gotten worse to the point that I can’t boot windows vista off it.  I’ve ruled out computer, cable, driver issues as I’ve tested on 3 different systems.

Here are the symptoms:

  1. at boot, i tell vista to boot to safe mode, and while loading drivers, it loads a few drivers then pauses for 10-30 seconds with no disk activity at all, then loads a few more, then pauses, and so forth.  Almost cyclical, it has disk activity for a second or two, then pauses for 10 seconds.  Eventually it gets to crcdisk.sys and it sits there forever, even hours at a time and never finishes booting

  2. if I make it a secondary drive on a different system, I can get to the drive letter, get a reponse to simple commads like dir, but if I try to copy files off, it copies a few in a second or two, then pauses, with no drive activity, and then resumes for a second or so, and pause…

  3. with Hard Drive Sentinel running, the SMART values check out as ok, but if I run a disk access test, you can see on the chart, a few seconds of normal 15ms disk seek, then 30 seconds of infinite disk seek time- 36000ms.

  4. Data life guard quick test passes, with no errors, but an extended test started running with just one little bar of progress after 50 minutes and estimated completion was 5+ hours.  I cancelled it.

From what I can tell the disks themselves are fine, the data is all there.  Something is blocking access when run as a secondary drive and holding up windows to the point that in some cases Vista or win7 will blue screen with a irql_not_less_or_equal fault

Any ideas before I RMA it under warranty?  I’d like the data, but only if I can recover it myself.

You might be experiencing a mechanical failure, if you’ve ruled out the usual suspects, like motor failure.  I’d RMA it.

Thanks Bill for the suggestion.  It may have something mechanical going on, but here’s the weird thing.   For Vista/Win7 I have this intermittent behavior, and Ubuntu 9 couldn’t even mount the drive.  But I loaded up the UBCD4win disk, which uses a very generic disk driver (disk.sys), and I can browse the drive and move files off no problem so far.  I’ve copied off 30 gig of files without a hiccup and it went plenty fast with none of the intermittency.

So all I can guess at is the advanced capabilities of SATA drivers are having trouble with this drive’s controller, and if I use a real simple driver, it behaves normally.

Regardless I’ll rma it, since it’s under warranty and I don’t intend to use UBCD4win as my regular operating system…


Well, I’m glad you got your data, at least.  And, yes, I’d probably RMA it, anyway.