Question Hard drive is failing to mount

Jan 10, 2021
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Hi,
So my computer runs Ubuntu and has a SATA SSD as boot and an additional HDD which contains the /home partition. About a week ago, I was having problems with my HDD not mounting when the computer booted which resulted in me not being able to use my computer. I would get an I/O error and the partition on the disk would not mount. The drive would sometimes work and sometimes not. I tried re-plugging the SATA cables from the motherboard and the drive and using different SATA cables. The HDD power cable goes from my PSU into my SSD then out of my SSD into my HDD. I tried re-plugging the power cables also from the PSU and drive. Today, I can't get the drive to work at all. When the computer boots, the drive makes a spinning/grinding noise on boot for about 5 seconds then stops spinning all together and turns off. When I was able to get the drive to work, I ran a test for bad sectors and bad blocks and they both passed with no errors. I also tried to run a S.M.A.R.T Self Test but it would hang on 10% and never finish. The drive and computer itself is only about a year old.

I would think it is either the PSU isn't giving enough power to the drive, the HDD power cable is bad or the hard drive itself is failing. Any ideas on what to do?
Is there a way I can test if it is the drive or the power supply that is failing?

Thank you! Let me know if I can provide any more information.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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I just tried a brand new power cable from the PSU as well as a SATA cable. That did not work.
I was able to plug the drive into another PC and it came up and was recognized. On Windows, when I opened disk management, a popup came up asking me to initialize the disk as either MBR or GPT.
What should I do here? Can I run a check disk or something from Windows to check if the drive is bad?
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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I just tried a brand new power cable from the PSU as well as a SATA cable. That did not work.
I was able to plug the drive into another PC and it came up and was recognized. On Windows, when I opened disk management, a popup came up asking me to initialize the disk as either MBR or GPT.
What should I do here? Can I run a check disk or something from Windows to check if the drive is bad?
So if it is seen on a different PC, it is not the drive that is at fault. That appears to be functional.

What are ALL the specs of this system?
Motherboard, other drives, etc, etc.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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The computer is recognizing that a drive is plugged into it but I am still unable to do anything with it. The drive still does not feel to be spinning either.

The specs of the system are:
Motherboard: MSI B450-A Pro Max
CPU: Ryzen 7 2700x
GPU: 1660Ti
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x16gb
PSU: 650 W semi-modular (not sure of the manufactory)
SSD: Samsung 500GB 860 evo
HDD: Seagate 2TB 3.5" Internal drive, 7200RPM (The drive in question)
 

USAFRet

Titan
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Mar 16, 2013
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"the drive makes a spinning/grinding noise on boot for about 5 seconds then stops spinning all together and turns off. "

Well...going back...it may BE the drive is failing.
New or grinding noises are never a good thing.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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After some fooling around, I was able to mount the drive in Windows and access all of the files using the program, EXT2fsd.
I guess this doesn't point to a failing drive?
 
I second on @USAFRet that the hdd is most likely about to fail.

The proper method to check for S.M.A.R.T. values is to run some Linux distro in live mode (not touching any partitions just by itself as an installed OS) and then navigate to the "disks" program. Most distros have this - Ubuntu should also have it.

Select the drive in question, click the button with three dots (may look different at your OS, I run Fedora with Cinnamon desktop) to get the drop-down menu, then click "SMART Data & self tests...".
Before that - make sure you have internet connection and somewhere to upload the screenshot of the result.

Ps : personally I think the SMART tool that ships with MX linux are a bit better (because can expand the window).
 
Jan 10, 2021
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I did a S.M.A.R.T using CrystalDisk on Windows and it came back as healthy with no problems encountered.
Should I still run the test using Linux?
 
Jan 10, 2021
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I was able to get the disk working on my original computer and an extended S.M.A.R.T test is running right now. It has been stuck at 10% for about 20 minutes and hasn't moved.

It is strange that the drive sometimes works in my system and sometimes doesn't. Could the problem be not related to hardware and rather something in my OS is wrong?
 
To summarize: (taken from wikipedia page)

Runtime Bad Block = 3
Western Digital, Samsung or Seagate attribute: Either the number of downshifts of link speed (e.g. from 6Gbit/s to 3Gbit/s) or the total number of data blocks with detected, uncorrectable errors encountered during normal operation.[39] Although degradation of this parameter can be an indicator of drive aging and/or potential electromechanical problems, it does not directly indicate imminent drive failure.[40]

The question now : are you completely positive the grinding sound originates from the hdd (and not a fan or other movable part)? Can you record the sound?

I also think that maybe you have a bad sata cable. You may try to replace it, but it doesn't explain any noise.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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So there is a potential future error but that is not the cause of this immediate problem?
I am positive the sound comes from the HDD as when I took it out of my system and into a different PC, the case was open and the drive was separated and the sound followed and came from the drive. I will record the sound and post it when I get back from work today.
I also noticed it only seems to have issues booting when the computer has been off for a period of time. Usually when I go to sleep and wake up, it fails.

I will also try a brand new SATA cable. I had an older cable laying around that I tried in a different SATA header and the same issue happened. Could it potentially be the SATA header on the motherboard?
If the problem persists with a new cable and after trying all of the SATA headers, I will replace the drive.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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But I have not tried using a new SATA cable on a different header on my original system.
I was also thinking maybe I could try plugging my SSD into the header the HDD is currently plugged into, and if the SSD then fails, then that header is the source of failure.
So we are down to the problem being either the SATA cable, SATA header or the drive itself? A new cable will fix that and I will try all the headers too.

Is there any logical explanation for why the issue only seems to occur after the drive has been turned off for a while?
I rebooted the computer many times yesterday and it never failed, it only failed when it was fully turned off.

I am leaning towards it being a drive error, even though it seems to pass the tests and is only a year old.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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As I read in another post " System may be booting fast enough that HDD is not yet up to speed". So the OS is loaded but it can't find the other drive/partition it needs to boot on the HDD.

Could this explain the reason why it only appears to be happening after the drive has been off for a while? As the drive is already spinning during during a normal reboot.
 
Is there any logical explanation for why the issue only seems to occur after the drive has been turned off for a while?
Thermal expansion of the drive and unequal for various parts because it's composed of different kind of materials.

As I read in another post " System may be booting fast enough that HDD is not yet up to speed". So the OS is loaded but it can't find the other drive/partition it needs to boot on the HDD.
Never heard of that. Any drives are expected to be up and running long before OS start loading.
 
Jan 10, 2021
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That makes sense, maybe the drive just needs to be spinning for enough time before it works?
The OS is loaded onto the SSD and can run completely independently from the HDD. I can unplug the HDD and still log into my system. This is getting into more software/OS side of things.

As the Linux boot process goes so fast, it is hard to read exactly what is going on the screen, it appears that it spams messages and I can only make out "Device in error" over and over. So that does imply it found the device and can just not read it. Which still indicates a hardware issue. I can find the boot logs which may be telling of what exactly is going on.
 
As the Linux boot process goes so fast, it is hard to read exactly what is going on the screen, it appears that it spams messages and I can only make out "Device in error" over and over. So that does imply it found the device and can just not read it. Which still indicates a hardware issue. I can find the boot logs which may be telling of what exactly is going on.
Have a look here how to get the whole boot log
https://askubuntu.com/questions/91286/how-to-see-log-to-find-a-boot-problem
 
Jan 10, 2021
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After replacing the SATA cable and using a different header, it seems to be working again. I fully unplugged the drive, let it stop spinning, then plugged it back in and it worked.
Of course the drive is not making the noise anymore.

The real test will be tomorrow morning, if it can boot or not. What is the diagnosis if that is the issue? Just the normal thermal expansion? Is there anything I can do for that besides getting a new drive?
 

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