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. Jeevan

    my Toshiba 1900-303(a discontinued model) encountered the same problem…
    funny enough i managed to get it fixed by repairing the windows..
    i put the bootable CD and it detected it, choosed the option for repair the windows and then it showed the windows loading logo and everthing started dead screen..
    so maybe in some of the laptops, the problem is just a damaged windows copy!!

  2. cj2600


    I have a TOSHIBA M35X-S161 SATELLITE every time I try to boot the red logo comes on and then windows and then nothing!!!

    Can you boot the laptop in Safe Mode? Did you try using Last Known Good Configuration option?
    This can be software related problem. You can try reinstalling the operating system from the recovery disc.
    WARNING. If you use the recovery disc it will erase all personal data and reinstall everything back to factory defaults.

  3. Hi, I have a TOSHIBA M35X-S161 SATELLITE every time I try to boot the red logo comes on and then windows and then nothing!!!
    my screen turns black power light still on the fan shuts off, i tried cleaning up the fan i thought it was dirty and it’s not cooling the system but didn’t help, I reseated the video card and still no luck,and I even tried to boot without the hard drive but problem still exist, do you think buying a new motherboard will be a good idea?
    or how can i test the system when the laptop doesn’t work? please please help me it’s driving me crazy,


  4. cj2600

    Check the memory slot on the bottom of your laptop. If you have a memory module in this slot try removing it and start the laptop. Will it turn on when the memory module is removed?

  5. When i start up my laptop the hardrive light comes on with the power light and the fan starts up but then they hard drive light and the fan stop but the power light is still on, and the screen never lights up at all. Help!

  6. floor4th

    i have the same problem, though i ran the diagnostics test and nothing was wrong. help?

  7. I have forgotten my laptop on standy before travelling, 45 days later I came back and encountered this problem:
    when I switched it on for some reason it wouldn’t boot up. It starts and as it tries to load Windows I get some error message on a blue screen which only stays on for about a second so I can’t read it. Then it reboots itself and I get a message saying there has been an unexpected error etc and asks me whether I want to try booting again normally, or in safe mode etc. I’ve tried in safe mode and all the other options but it just does the same thing. When the Windows XP logo appears and it seems to be loading, it then takes me to this blue screen with an error message and then straight away reboots itself.

  8. Ish Loaum,
    Can you see Dell logo on startup? Test the laptop with an external monitor attached to the laptop. Can you get the external monitor working or it has a light grayish screen too?

  9. Ish Loum

    Dell laptop. When I turn on the laptop. I can hear it booting up but I can only see a light grayish screen instead of the windows Operating system. Is this a screen problem or somethingelse?

  10. DilsherSingh

    I have a desktop(assembled) the mouse pointer is stuck on the screen .I tried by restarting the computer and also checked the PS2 port which was in good condition and also reconnected the wire but could’nt get any result.Tell me any other trouble shooting steps.

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