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OT: Damaged harddisk and/or disk controller

Hi all,

My question is, I suppose OT, since things go wrong long before bootup, 
but with the many fine folks here, I hope you will permit me, and 
perhaps even provide me with an answer! :-)

For a long time, I have had problems before boot: My primary master disk 
is sometimes not detected, and thus, the machine doesn't boot. It 
happens about once a month, and it is completely magic to me: I usually 
pull the power cable, fiddle a bit with the IDE cable to the primary 
disk, reconnects and that does the trick. If these actions have an 
effect, I really do not know, and sometimes, like this morning, a lot 
more fiddling was required... 

I don't even know if it is the disk that's the problem or the disk 
controller, and that's my primary concern that I hope you can help 

What I see is that if the primary master disk isn't detected, the 
primary slave isn't either. However, if I pull the IDE cable from the 
primary master, the primary slave is detected. This too, could be 
random, as I have not seen it often enough to tell, but it seems so, 
indicating that the controller is fine. I have also bought a new IDE 
cable, so it is not the cable.

Today, I pulled the power from the disk, and when I inserted it again, 
it gave a sound like "I'm spinning, I'm spinning!", and that was what 
did the trick, it seemed. Could it be that occasionally the disk simply 
doesn't start spinning at all after a shutdown?

In the list of devices on bootup, the IDE controller always shows with a 
single entry, so it is not that the IDE controller is totally absent. 
lspci also shows it as:
0000:00:04.1 IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc. 
VT82C586A/B/VT82C686/A/B/VT823x/A/C PIPC Bus Master IDE (rev 06)

The primary disk, a Maxtor 40 GB disk, has been a bit unreliable from 
the start, so I suspect it is to blame. As some may remember, I have 
been thinking about buying a RAID controller for this box, and this is 
part of the equation, allthough I have pretty much suspended the idea 
for now. If the IDE controller is flaky, then I would want to buy a new 
SATA controller and a SATA disk, but if it just the disk, then I'd go 
for just a new IDE disk, but it would of course be sad to have gotten a 
IDE disk if the controller was bad... So, it is a financial question 
too... :-)

Any ideas on how to attack this issue to bring more certainty as to the 


Kjetil Kjernsmo
Programmer / Astrophysicist / Ski-orienteer / Orienteer / Mountaineer
Homepage: http://www.kjetil.kjernsmo.net/     OpenPGP KeyID: 6A6A0BBC

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