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. highspeeddirt,
    I’ve heard some people complaining about the same problem but I’ve never seen and repaired it myself.

    If I remove the bezel (the 4 screws holding it in place), would i be able to get in there and remove it?

    Nope. If you remove the bezel (LCD screen mask) you will get an access to the screen but there is not glass between the mask and the screen. If I understand right, the hair is inside the screen and to remove it you’ll have to dismantle the screen itself.

  2. Bijayalaxmi,
    You might have a bad hard drive. Download Hitachi DFT test utility and test the drive. If the drive passes the test, then your problem might be related to a software issue. Back up all personal data from the drive (you can connect it to another working machine via an external USB enclosure) and reimage the drive using a recovery DVD you got from Toshiba.
    BTW, can you boot into Windows in safe mode? Restart the laptop and press F8 before it starts booting into Windows. Select the safe mode line and try to boot the laptop. If it boots into safe mode then most likely you have a software issue and it will be fixed after you reimage the drive.

  3. highspeeddirt

    I have a Toshiba M55 laptop and just noticed there is a piece of lint or a hair what seems to be under my screen. I tried wiping it off but it’s under the screen if that makes sense.

    If I remove the bezel (the 4 screws holding it in place), would i be able to get in there and remove it? I wasn’t sure if there is a piece of glass or plexi between the bezel and actual lcd screen. Please advise. Thanks.

  4. Bijayalaxmi

    I have a Toshiba satellite m35-x laptop. All of a sudden it has stopped booting. It just shows the initial screen (Windows XP) and then the screen goes blank with a cursor blinking at the leftmost corner. No changes have been made to the BIOS config. Please help me… Thanks

  5. I have a toshiba Laptop. My mother spilled coke on the keyboard but it seems to run fine… when it will run. It’s kind of odd. Some times it will start up, some times I’ll have to wait 10 minutes and try again. I have ran Spybot S&D + AVG, and a few other anti-malware programs. I really think this should be a quick fix as it seems to be more software based since it’s slowing down, but I’m not completly sure. I do not have a recovery disc or anything like thta as I bought the laptop as a friend.



  6. Sultanasherman,
    Test the hard drive and if it fails the test, replace the hard drive and run a recovery DVD you got with the laptop.

    You can download Hitachi DFT test here. Read through the user’s guide for help.

  7. sultanasherman

    thanx for your prompt reply and support.. i dint change any settings from the bios, i jus switched the laptop on and it gave me that message.. how do i go about it now???

  8. sultanasherman

    i have a toshiba laptop satellite m30x/m35x.. i cn operate it now.. when i switch it on, it says media test failure check cable.. how do i go about it… pls reply urgently

  9. Kel,
    The bar goes away when you apply pressure on the display panel? If yes, then most likely it’s the LCD screen issue and you’ll have to replace the it.

  10. I have a Toshiba A 75. I got it because of the rave reviews. After my warranty expired I am experiencing a dark bar on the left side of my lcd screen. how much does it cost to fix ? would it be the cable wire? Once I apply pressure it goes away. …

Leave a Reply