I got a call, asking to help with an uncooperative PC.
Symptom: blank start bar / task bar, Ctrl-alt-del works, but cannot run explorer.
Once there I find I can’t do much with the system… I try bartPE, but it gives a message something like: this system was in the process of installing XP. do you want to complete the installation, abort the installation, or restart.
Aborting the installation allows me to start BartPE. But now that I find the hubby had tried (unsuccessfully) to reinstall windows, then a recovery might not work well. Otherwise the drive data seems intact.
This is another back to the office job.
Back at the office, the XP install cd won’t boot. Fixed this by changing the bios boot order (I don’t understand why anyone would want to boot the HDD before the CDROM or floppy… it doesn’t make sense)
I start a repair install, and after 10 minutes, the PC suddenly resets, and then restarts the xp install.
After another 10 minutes, another restart… after 6 such resets (and no progress with XP), I stop the PC and take a look inside.
Everything looks normal… the SATA drive (WD1600) is powered by the standard molex power connector, rather than by the SATA power connector. And the drive is unusually warm.. almost too hot to touch.
I take the drive out, so I can do a backup to another PC. Then I reconnect it to the customer PC. Except I use the SATA power, and I place it outside the PC case, on some cardboard, and with a fan blowing on it.
This time the windows repair install completes correctly.
I do my usual tuning (except for a defrag and a virus / spyware scan).
I then put the drive into its normal slot in the PC, and do a defrag (overnight). The next morning, there is no response from the PC… just a blank screen.
Reset, and try again… this time it makes it through the defrag.
I check the SMART temperature settings using SIW . Its at about 43c.
Once I start a virus scan, the SMART temp goes up to 51c.
Some research shows that you can’t rely on the accuracy of the SMART sensor, but generally any temperature around 50c is not good for the drive.
While the virus scan is running, I open up the PC and gently touch a corner of the HDD. I can’t keep my finger on the HDD: its too hot…
When I return the PC, I tell the customer what I have found, and strongly urge him to look at a getting at least a cooling fan for the HDD (or a new HDD).