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. dave brennan,

    am i missing something? this looks like a great site, but i dont see a “contact us” or any other way of asking a question. i hope there is . it might be the only way to save my 7140ct from the dump.

    Nope, you are not missing anything. There is no “contact us” because I cannot answer all questions individually.
    If you have a question, post it as a comment. I’ll answer if I know what’s going on.

  2. Ugen E.Blessing

    I stumbled onto your site and was pleasantly surprised at what I found.The is heavily loaded with lots of useful materials.kudos to you and pls keep it up.
    I’m trained computer technician but never really got to actively practice the trade.Of late,I’ve been seriously thinking of geting to go into active practice but not on desktop computers.My intension is to attend a serminar on laptops and notebook repairs.Now,that I’ve found your site I know resources for training will be abundantly available,also I will like to purchase a comprehensive video tutorials on laptop and notebook repairs if it’s available.Once again,keep the good work going.

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  3. dave brennan

    am i missing something? this looks like a great site, but i dont see a “contact us” or any other way of asking a question. i hope there is . it might be the only way to save my 7140ct from the dump. thanx.

  4. EroticaXP

    Another one for the knowledge base. I once had a client with a MSI notebook. I have previously installed Windows on that laptop a while ago but due to user’s lack of experience i had to do it again. I started installing until a point when blue screen (BSOD) ocurred. I ran all the test necessary MemTest+ and a series of HDD tests. All the HDD test said that the HDD is gonna crash soon due to SMART parameters. I told the customer to buy a new HDD which he did. I installed the new HDD in the notebook and succesfully installed Windows on it. The old HDD was given to me by the previous owner to do what i see fit with it. I plugged it in to my desktop computer and was easily recognized. When i saw that it was working i copied all the important and unrecoverable data my client had and formatted the drive. Gave back the laptop and data to my client and came back to the HDD issue. I tested the HDD on my desktop with previous tests to find out that now SMART parameters are within limits. I am using that HDD ever since (about an year ago). I have ran tests under Windows too using different softwares and the HDD seems to be fine.

  5. mark,

    i have a toshiba satellite p30-110 when switched on u can hear the cooling fans running but the screen is so dark that its unreadable. everything runs ok. the blue light around power button stays on. also i’ve noticed that the hd light stays green all the time with nothing appearing on the monitor.

    1. Remove the hard drive. Try starting the laptop with hard drive removed. Can you get image on the screen this way?
    2. Try reseating memory modules. Remove them one by one. Test the laptop with each module separately.

  6. i have a toshiba satellite p30-110 when switched on u can hear the cooling fans running but the screen is so dark that its unreadable. everything runs ok. the blue light around power button stays on. also i’ve noticed that the hd light stays green all the time with nothing appearing on the monitor. i got the pc 4rm my dads office. i found out that the hd has been tempered. pls tell me the problem

  7. 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.

  8. 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 .

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  9. 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.

  10. Vilma 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.

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