Diagnosing Problems with Computer Drives
Problems with drives are generally easier to diagnose than some other components - as problems typically occur whenever you try to access that device. The exception here is the drive that hosts your operating system: if there is an intermittent fault with this, things will be fairly unpredictable.
If you suspect disc problems, then check the drive access light on the front of your PC to see if it exhibits unusual behaviour .. [and] .. listen out for unusual noises when the drive is in use
If you suspect disc problems, then check the drive access light on the front of your PC case to see if it exhibits unusual behaviour (-e.g. always on). Also, listen out for unusual noises when the drive is in use (-e.g. loud or metallic) which may token that the drive is on the way out.
If you suspect a problem with a hard drive, then the best way to confirm it is as follows:
Download the Hitachi Drive Fitness tool and burn the .iso image to CD/DVD or USB memory stick. Reboot your PC using the boot disc or USB and the utility should immediately load and start running.
The tool ask you if you want "1. SCSI and ATA support" or "2. ATA support only": select the desired option. The tool will then detect the installed drives (-it doesn't matter if they are not Hitachi drives) and list them on the screen:
Select the drive that you wish to test, using the arrow keys:
Type "Q" to run a quick test on this drive or "A" to run a full "Advanced" test. The test will begin (-status is shown by a progress bar):
Once completed - the result will be displayed (-in the example below, no error was found):
When you have finished testing - type CTRL+X to exit the program (-you will be asked to confirm your decision):
Note: if the tool returns an error - it would be a good idea to re-run it several times to verify that the error was not a one-off.
Unfortunately, the Hitachi Drive Fitness tool only works with hard drives and not Solid State Devices (SSDs). So far, we have not come across any tool which claims to test SSDs, but (in theory) it should be a cross between testing a hard drive and memory: when we can locate an effective tool, we will post it here.
CD/DVD drive problems are normally fairly easy to prove: if errors occur when reading from or writing to the device, then that device should be considered as suspect. The cabling to the drive (IDE or SATA) should be checked and (-if it is an IDE drive) then the jumper settings should be checked.
CD/DVD drives are so cheap these days .. that they could almost be considered as disposable
CD/DVD drives are so cheap these days (-around £15 at time of writing) that they could almost be considered as disposable! Due to them being optical devices, they tend to be very sensitive to knocks or vibration (-e.g. from a dodgy case fan), so this is worth checking.