Sometimes hard disk failure on initial post, but if not, everything is always fine? Dell Inspiron 3647

Ok, so this one is baffling me. Unfortunately, it's also on my father's PC, and he lives about 2700 miles away - however, I can probably get my brother to do some tests as he lives there.

Anyway, for a while, my dad's PC (i3 Haswell, Dell Inspiron Small Desktop 3647, Windows 10 Home, a single HDD and single optical drive) would have this strange issue where, when first powered on, it MIGHT display the following before booting.

Hard-disk drive failure
Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility.

However, if he powered it off and back on again, it would likely boot up just fine. Before I got to take a look (back in August), it would always work after the first retry. What makes it weirder is that, once it was up and running, everything was fine. He had no trouble whatsoever with it. If it went into sleep mode, it would recover just fine. As long as he never actually powered down or did a full reboot, it would behave flawlessly.

It gradually got to the point where he'd have to make as many as 2 or 3 retries, sometimes, when that message came up.

When I visited at the end of August, I ran a SMART status software - I want to say it was CrystalDiskInfo, but don't recall. It showed that everything was absolutely fine. Not a single issue marked.

More recently, in the past week, my dad said on one occasion he had to try to restart 17 times, and the worst was 24 times.

It's always in the beginning, and once it does boot up, there's no misbehavior from the drive at all, which is quite baffling. I believe there's imminent hard drive failure coming on, but don't know for sure.

If my brother runs the SMART tool, and it again shows no problems, then I'm thinking we should try replacing the SATA cable. If that doesn't work, then try connecting the HDD to a different SATA port (in case the port on the MB is failing).

Assuming those don't solve the problem, I think the hard drive should be replaced. However, are there any steps before that which you might suggest? I'd hate to get a new HDD, then wind up with the same symptoms.

Thoughts, ideas, suggestions all appreciated.


Sounds like you've got the basics covered. If the drive is clicking during post attempts where it fails to post it could also be a power cable or a bad SATA cable.
Simple test.: shut it down. Open it and turn it on, listen for clicking. If present, turn if off again. unplug data cable from HD. Boot again. If gone, replace Sata cable. If not gone try different power lead from PSU. If power lead does not resolve, replace HD. (after you check for the sata port like you are already planning to do).

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