Very strange hard drive failure symptoms

posted in: Troubleshooting | 94

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.

94 Responses

  1. Followed the “towel cure” before I try to baking the motherboard of my Presario v6000 and already after 20 min.the screen came back to live!! :-) I keep it 1,5 houers in the towels,as it dont get it really good hot…but it helps..Hope it wil stay some time..Great site!! Thumbs up.The laptop was out of bussines for 3 years,as I was not really in to it to take the motherboard out…but thanks god its solved now.

  2. Hi,

    I have an HDD issue on a laptop ASUS A6J, and the problem, even if different, it looks interesting.

    After a successfully OS installation (i.e. Windows 8, Vista or Linux), the laptop boots without problem.
    But when the laptop remains powered off for while (tens of minutes), then it does not boot because of the error:

    No bootable device. Please insert boot disc and press any key to continue…

    It sounds strange to me, because the BIOS always reads the hard disk correctly.

    The SMART functionality also does not show any issue, as well as various HDD tools used for diagnosis (i.e. Hiren’s CD, Windows check).

    I have tried to replace the hard disk, but the problem persists: then it seems not related to a specific drive.

    I thought to a battery CMOS problem (since it is older than 10y), I replaced the CR2032 but the issue remains exactly the same: cold boot does not work, warm boot is fine (i.e. by booting from a CD/DVD).

    Any idea?

  3. Hi..,
    i have use windows 7. i forgot my admini possword…, how to reset or how to recover

  4. I have a Toshiba Sattelite S855D-S523. I’ve only had it a few months but intermittantly I will turn it on and it will partially boot up and then suddenly just go off with no warning. It has been doing that since I got it. The last few days it says windows was unable to start. I let it go back to a previous time and that worked for a week or two but now I’m getting the same message. I go through the repair process and this time I didn’t do the previous time period routine I click on finish and it goes off. Then I restart and everything is fine again. However I put the symptoms of a failed hard drive into google and I am immediately rerouted to this page. My friend said he had a similar problem and that turned out to be his problem. I just want a computer that works and I am very annoyed ghat this one doesn’t because I am using it to take online classes. I will be contacting Toshiba.

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