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Harddrives shorting out - I'm at a loss! :(

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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
Okay, so I had a harddrive and a DVD burner burnt out on my new rig. If you look at my other threads, this is the 3/4 drive that has burnt out. So I figured something had to be causing it. The odds of 3/4 drives being bad was slim, so I bought a DMM to test the rails, formatted the array (RAID 5) with just the 3 drives, install XP SP2, install Prime95, and nothing else. Everything seems to be going fine, so I run Prime95 and here are my results:

Orange (3.3) - 3.372
Red (5) - 5.07
Yellow (12) - 12.20

NO fluctuation whatsoever. Then the machine locks up. I can't Ctrl-Alt-Delete, nothing. I try hitting the power button to do a shutdown, nothing. So I do the only thing I could do, and wince while holding the power button in to shut her down. I turn it back on thinking everything is okay, as it gets to the RAID boot manager - RAID degraded. ANOTHER drive shorted out!!! So now that the drive isn't working, Windows won't even boot properly. It's sluggish, gets to the bootscreen and just stops. A few times it made it to boot, but it doesn't seem stable. Does anyone have any ideas what could be my problem? The only thing I can think of is possibly the mobo is no good. I can't think of anything else to check. How could I figure out if it's the mobo? I bought this rig about 3 months ago or so and have slowly been putting it together. I really don't have money to spend on myself during the holidays. I know Maxtor (the 4 drives) isn't crazy about the nForce 4 chipset, but it didn't say it was incompatible - just that their diagnostic software won't work on it. Should I buy a new board and rebuild it from that? See if that solves my issue? I am ready to throw the whole damn machine out of a 12 story window at this point. I will never buy an MSI product again. I was lured in by it's Creative Labs onboard audio and it's great overclocking choices in the BIOS over the similarly specced ASUS board. If anyone can help, I'd really appreciate it. I need to know what else could possibly be burning out these drives. As it is now I still have the RMA out on the 1 drive, Maxtor won't let me RMA another one until they receive the first one. That and the fact that even if I RMA them, something is still blowing them out. Anyone have any ideas? I really appreciate it. Thanks in advance!
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
/bump

Any thoughts on this one? What could be shorting out these drives? Like I said before, the voltages came up perfectly. Is it possible the mobo is shorting them out somehow?
 

Feydd

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2004
Location
Dayton, OH
Even tho you say you tested the voltages this still sounds like a PSU problem to me. Even when you test the PSU and everything looks OK it could still be letting out really short intermitant spikes which could be frying your drives. If you have a spare PSU try getting the other drives up and running on that. The board could be shorting it out too. Check and make sure all your standoffs are properly mounted.
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
Feydd said:
Even tho you say you tested the voltages this still sounds like a PSU problem to me. Even when you test the PSU and everything looks OK it could still be letting out really short intermitant spikes which could be frying your drives. If you have a spare PSU try getting the other drives up and running on that. The board could be shorting it out too. Check and make sure all your standoffs are properly mounted.

Thanks Feydd. How can I check the existing PSU? I mean the first drives blew out right away - 1st 2 weeks, the third drive took almost 2 months or so to blow out. If I change out the PSU for another one and it works fine for another month, I still won't know for sure.
 

Evil_Eye

Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2003
Location
Up in Canada somewhere.
I remember blowing out a floppy drive connector by attaching too many devices on a single line in my PSU (two hard-drives and an floppy drive). I'm not talk about figutively; the connector actually blew up after it got singed to a crisp.

The first thing I'd do would be to dedicate one line for the hard-drives only and see if that works. Then if that yet agains blows up another hard-drive a new PSU ought to do. If you're particularly paranoid, buying a new PSU and limiting how much devices are placed per molex line is a good way to increasing hard-drive life.

The easiest way to check for spikes in rail voltage would be via motherboard monitor 5 and it's logs, however, the most accurate would be through a multimeter. In both cases, the system must be under load, and the results tallied.
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
Evil_Eye said:
I remember blowing out a floppy drive connector by attaching too many devices on a single line in my PSU (two hard-drives and an floppy drive). I'm not talk about figutively; the connector actually blew up after it got singed to a crisp.

The first thing I'd do would be to dedicate one line for the hard-drives only and see if that works. Then if that yet agains blows up another hard-drive a new PSU ought to do. If you're particularly paranoid, buying a new PSU and limiting how much devices are placed per molex line is a good way to increasing hard-drive life.

The easiest way to check for spikes in rail voltage would be via motherboard monitor 5 and it's logs, however, the most accurate would be through a multimeter. In both cases, the system must be under load, and the results tallied.

Thanks Evil. I've tried using MM5, but it doesn't support my board, so I uninstalled it. Two harddrives and a floppy should not blow up a rail, though. I'm not saying it didn't. I'm saying that sounds like a defective PSU, because that's not alot of juice at all. Lightbulbs draw more current than all 3 of those :p hehe. My problem is that I can't dedicate one molex line per device. There are 4 harddrives, the DVD Burner, floppy drive (which I could take out) and then the 7800gt vid card, then the mobo. I could not plug in the fans, but that still doesn't give me enough lines. I would need 4 SATA lines (the PSU comes with 2on1 and I use a splitter/adapter on another molex for the other two), and 2 more, for 6 total. I don't think I've even seen a power supply with 6 molexes on it. Any other suggestions? If I minimize what's on it, being that I can't just single it out, could I run MM5 under load and just look at the logs that way?
 

JimmyG

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Michigan
Please elaborate on how the hard drives failed. Did they just stop working? Was there any evidence of smoke or smell?

I would load windows on a single hard drive. Don't try to set up RAID. See if it runs OK with just one hard drive and get back to us.
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
JimmyG said:
Please elaborate on how the hard drives failed. Did they just stop working? Was there any evidence of smoke or smell?

I would load windows on a single hard drive. Don't try to set up RAID. See if it runs OK with just one hard drive and get back to us.

They just stopped working. No evidence of smoke, or burning out in that sense. No bad burnt electronic smell. The motherboard sees them in the BIOS but reports them as dead. Unfortunately Maxtor's powermax software is not compatible with NForce chipsets so I can't try to run that to get more details. If my power supply is an issue, what will running one drive at a time prove? It will certainly use significantly less power as opposed to all 4 of them.
 

JimmyG

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Michigan
I think the first order of business is to determine if you have a working mobo. Unless you have direct evidence of psu problems, don't assume this is the problem. PSUs are pretty tough and don't go bad very often unless it is a cheapie. You could measure the voltage rails with a digital voltmeter to see if they are close to specification, but that doesn't tell the whole story. By going to a single hard drive and verifying whether that works will be a evidence that the problem may be elsewhere. Hard drives don't draw a lot of power and any good psu (350 watts or more) should handle up to 4 hard drives. The RAID setup adds complication to troubleshooting.
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
JimmyG said:
I think the first order of business is to determine if you have a working mobo. Unless you have direct evidence of psu problems, don't assume this is the problem. PSUs are pretty tough and don't go bad very often unless it is a cheapie. You could measure the voltage rails with a digital voltmeter to see if they are close to specification, but that doesn't tell the whole story. By going to a single hard drive and verifying whether that works will be a evidence that the problem may be elsewhere. Hard drives don't draw a lot of power and any good psu (350 watts or more) should handle up to 4 hard drives. The RAID setup adds complication to troubleshooting.

I have an update actually. I haven't had a chance to plug in just one harddrive, reformat, etc. but I did notice the other day that the light on my USB webcam was on even though the power on the PC was off. (I left it plugged in.) I'm wondering if there is a short in the motherboard somewhere. I understand that harddrives don't draw alot of power, but 4 SATA's along with the vid card, the P4 650, and fans running does. That's why I said, how is taking away peripherals going to help me figure out if in fact the PSU is faulty or not? I think it may be the mobo just for the fact that my PSU is not one of those pretty "Paris Hilton" types, but it's an ugly industrial Forton. :p
 

JimmyG

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Michigan
Fortron is well liked on this forum. That being said, I have had a single unresolved negative experience with fortron. I bought a 400watt fortron and it arrived DOA. I RMA'd it and got a replacement. It is sitting in my shelf unopened with plastic wrap intact because I was impatient and went out and bought a new PSU locally. I still haven't figured out what to do with it....
 

JimmyG

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Michigan
Now about your other question: Why go to single hard drive. It has long been my practice to minimize the complexity of a troubleshooting situation. By dropping to one hard drive you eliminate the RAID controller on the mobo from the equation. If it runs good in single hard drive, then add drives one at a time until you have all drives back in. Then try RAID. This way you have systematically eliminated possible failure items.
 

JimmyG

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Michigan
Oh, I forgot to comment on your USB question. USB stays hot when powered down, so that usb devices can wake up your computer.
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
Jimmy, thanks again. As far as RAID goes - there are no non-raid SATA ports on my mobo - it's not a separate card, they're onboard, so that wouldn't actually eliminate the RAID controller from the equation, would it? It's using the same controller. That's why I asked. Sorry, maybe I didn't make that one clear. I do agree that first thing they teach you when troubleshooting is to take every damn thing out and put them back in one by one. But the controller is the same whether or not it's set up RAID or singles, so that's why I was confused.

Fortron is a very respected name for a reason - they make a quality product. Every company has defects, they break in shipping, whatever. It happens. I still trust them.

The USB issue is not normal. Webcams never have the light on unless they're in use. Before this incident with the last burnt out drive, the light only came on when I "turned it on" via software. In otherwords tried to get a picture from it in Photoshop, record video in Premiere, whatever. Now the light is on *all the time*. That's not a good sign. It means that too much juice is going to it, or data is being sent to it. When the machine is off, this should not happen. Webcams don't have on/off switches, and the only way to get it to wake up (like how LAN could wake up a machine) is software based - and that would require the machine to be on. I don't know of a single webcam that has a security camera feature built into the firmware that turns on a machine via CCD. My boss's son works in security and the ones he sells don't even do that. If you know of any, it would be news to me. Needless to say, I know this camera does NOT do that. :)
 

Susquehannock

The Mad Smelter
Joined
Aug 26, 2003
Location
Maryland, USA
What are the specs on your PSU? One of the biggest power draws is at start-up when
the HDD's first spin up. This is often when lesser PSU show their weakness - boot problems etc.
A quality brand PSU should handle 4 drives though.
 

JimmyG

Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2001
Location
Michigan
LittleMike said:
Fortron is a very respected name for a reason - they make a quality product. Every company has defects, they break in shipping, whatever. It happens. I still trust them.
I didn't mean to imply that Fortron was a bad psu. My point was that even good ones can have defects.
 

J-Mag

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Location
Bay Area, CA
When I first got on board the nforce4 bandwagon I had serious issues with my Diamondmax 10 drives being detected...

Make sure you have the latest chipset drivers installed, as well as the newest BIOS for your mobo. If that doesn't work I think I remember finding updated firmware a while back for the DiamondMax 10 drives which help with the issue, as it sounds ot me like the drives are not bad, they are just not being auto-detected by the BIOS.
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
J-Mag said:
When I first got on board the nforce4 bandwagon I had serious issues with my Diamondmax 10 drives being detected...

Make sure you have the latest chipset drivers installed, as well as the newest BIOS for your mobo. If that doesn't work I think I remember finding updated firmware a while back for the DiamondMax 10 drives which help with the issue, as it sounds ot me like the drives are not bad, they are just not being auto-detected by the BIOS.

They are being detected in the BIOS, they're just showing up as broken (Error in the RAID BIOS)
 
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LittleMike

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2005
Location
NY
Susquehannock said:
What are the specs on your PSU? One of the biggest power draws is at start-up when
the HDD's first spin up. This is often when lesser PSU show their weakness - boot problems etc.
A quality brand PSU should handle 4 drives though.

550w Fortron/Sparkle
 

J-Mag

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Location
Bay Area, CA
LittleMike said:
They are being detected in the BIOS, they're just showing up as broken (Error in the RAID BIOS)

Ahh my bad, well it sounded similar to the issues I had with the same drives (unless you have the Maxline III's I can't tell, but they are essentially the same drives anyway)

Either way I would make sure you have the latest chipset drivers...