A few days ago I had to repair a notebook with symptoms that didn’t look like a hard drive failure at all. But the problem was fixed after I replace the hard drive.

Hard drive failure

It was Toshiba Satellite A70-S249 notebook with the following problem.
When I press on the power button, the laptop starts up as usual and a red Toshiba logo appears on the screen. After a moment the logo disappears and the screen turns black without any faint image and flashing cursor. The blue light around the power button stays on and fans continue to spin normal but nothing appears on the screen. I noticed that the hard drive LED blinks green on the startup and after that shows no activity at all. After a closer inspection I noticed that the screen is not completely black (like dead black), it didn’t have any image on it but it had a very faint backlight (I would say about 3-5% of normal brightness). I was able to see that there is some backlight after I pressed on the lid close switch and the screen turned to completely black.

Here are my troubleshooting steps that I went through to find the problem.
First of all, I replaced the memory module and didn’t get any changes. Removed the wireless card, still had the same problem.
After that I removed the hard drive and started the computer. This time I got something. The notebook successfully passed the Toshiba screen and started looking for a boot device. I got some activity on the screen. To make sure that the notebook itself works fine, I booted it from Knoppix (live Linux CD) and successfully loaded the Linux operating system to the desktop. So, that’s the hard drive problem!
I installed the hard drive back in the laptop and tried to boot it again. The same failure occurred again; I got a black screen with a very faint backlight and no hard drive activity at all. I tested the hard drive with Hitachi DFT test and failed an advanced test. The problem is detected!
Finally I installed a new hard drive, reimaged the drive with a recovery DVD and got the laptop back up and running.

By the way, even though the customer’s hard drive failed the DFT test, I still was able to access it from another computer. The customer had important personal files on the failed drive. I connected it to our recovery desktop computer using IDE adapter. The “failed” hard drive was detected without any problem and I was able to recover the data.

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94 Comments

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  1. 64
    Maroof Says:

    I am laptop engineer. i am in suadi
    i got this site from the google after reading some tips and troubleshooting steps.thanks for the publishing these kinda of tips and repairing steps.this site tells the common fault in the laptop . very day iam red this site.

  2. 63
    mukesh Says:

    i got this site from the google after reading some tips and troubleshooting steps i repair my Dell vostro 1000 in a very easy way ……
    thanks for the publishing these kinda of tips and repairing steps.this site tells the common fault in the laptop .

    THANKS Bro…

  3. 62
    cj2600 Says:

    Vilam Rivera,

    My Toshiva laptop will continuosly repeat a letter or sign and will not accept any command, I just push all keys until it stops. what could be wrong, does it have solution.

    Sounds like you have a stuck key on the keyboard. You’ll have to replace the keyboard.
    Also, it’s possible that you have a problem with the keyboard controller on the motherboard but it’s not a common problem.

  4. 61
    Vilma Rivera Says:

    My Toshiva laptop will continuosly repeat a letter or sign and will not accept any command, I just push all keys until it stops. what could be wrong, does it have solution.

  5. 60
    Charles Sambani Says:

    I have just discovered your website through Google Search Engine and have fallen in love with it. I am an upcoming electronics technician in Malawi and to keep myself uptodate I like reading articles on electrical and electronics. You put educative materials on your website good enough for the technicians. I will be a regular visitor of your website. Please keep it up and thanks.

    Charles Sambani – Malawi

  6. 59
    Pranab Says:

    your site is very informatuve and helpful ,i had send the link to all my service guys ,i run a service center in calicut Kerala
    keep updating with all models
    Thank you very much

  7. 58
    richard Says:

    i use to have this same problems too on most of the laptops. on most of the solutions to the drive i use hirens boot disk to fix it. sometimes bad sectors cause much to the drive.

  8. 57
    Jeni Says:

    Hello,

    I noticed this quote in one of the results to a search I performed trying to figure out how to diagnose my hard drive: “You can run Hitachi’s drive fitness test yourself and find out if the hard drive can pass the test.”

    My Toshiba Satellite M45′s hard drive crashed and through various resources, I have found that it appears I should run a Hitachi disk drive diagnostic on it. The above-pasted comment from your web site helps confirm this for me. (As well as Toshiba’s complete lack of any references to diagnostic DIY software on its web site. Many negative comments and complaints on the numerous forums I’ve read in the last few days.)

    There are two HD diagnostic programs on Hitachi’s web site. Is the diagnostic for my machine the “Drive Fitness Test” or is it the “OGT” – I am very new to all of this, and quite unfamiliar with the innards of any computer. I have access to my make, model and serial numbers, but have not been able to find the HD’s manufacturer anywhere.

    The M45 laptop is over 4 years old, but was running fine up until about four days ago. I have everything backed-up to a Maxtor external hard drive, with the exception of my Outlook emails and contacts’ information. If there is a way to access and/or extract this information from the HD (screen is totally black on the machine, though fans and panel lights do come on when I power it up) without running the diagnostic, perhaps someone would be willing to share that with me.

    Any comments or other help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Kind regards,

    Jeni

  9. 56
    shemeer Says:

    hai dear

    thank you for your site………

    i am working as technician in saudi. i am only 1 45 days here..my country is india (kerala)/// ther i only do desktop……but here all are laptop…..so your site is very helpfull to meeeee and to all like me…………i have to ask you that….is it must study electrics as course to devolop and work as a laptop techncian. ????? i only studied with my hw course…no more course in electroics……….. one of my fiend told me that……..then ……….tell me how to devolop my ebility………..

    then okkkkk

    byeeeeee

  10. 55
    Robert B Says:

    ALL HAIL cj2600:

    THANK YOU!

    I’ve just spent 4 days and 35 hours searching ALL OVER THE INTERNET for an answer to the symptoms above. I have a Toshiba Satellite M45 doing the same thing.

    If it means anything, you seem to have found the answer to the “Satellite Syndrome” that no one else has an explanation for.

    My HD tested normal, happy and was not showing error codes or over temps.

    An insidious problem solved…

    Robert

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