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I keep frying harddrives, please help.

Alrighty, heres the situation.

Last week, I was recording some stuff in Pro-tools, and things were getting a little strange. Sometimes it would not go into record right away, and it kept coming up with messages about the hard drive i was recording to (not system drive) being too full and fragmented (both of which were not the case). Eventually the system completely hung up, upon restart that drive was no longer accessable, i tried putting into a firewire case. same deal.

I hadnt backed up in a few days and the cost of recovering seemed justified so I did. Then new HD, same thing happened tonight. Crashed, in the SAME session mind you, when using pro-tools. And now that drive is looking quite dead.

Rerecording stuff again, or reovering I'm kind of screwed. But I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas to what the original problem may be? is this an OS thing? motherboard? PT?

As a few of you are already arming your your clever responses.. yes its a PC, no its not digi approved. But it HAS worked really great for 2 years so I'm kind of curious to what is going on all of a sudden. The computer is not connected to the internet, i checked for viruses, it is clean.

I'm not really sure what course of action i should take, i dont really have too much time to waste figuring it out. would a nice g5 actually solve my problems?



Cucco Mon, 04/24/2006 - 11:40
Wow...So many woes....I guess I'm fortunate (knock on wood).

Shoeboxdude -
I had a VERY similar problem to yours. I had just bought an MBox 2 and hooked it up for a live recording onto my laptop as kind of a back up rig (thankfully!) I got the same error no less than 6 times within one performance (each time causing me to have to shut down PT and start it again only to get the error shortly thereafter!)

Anyway, I got rid of the MBox, got a Mackie Onyx 1220 and never again had the problem.

Therefore, I'm forced to assume that in my case, it was definitely the software, not the hardware.

As for the Hard Drives ....

Bear in mind, it is VERY uncommon for cylinders and/or read/write heads to be problematic in hard drives. In fact, these are usually the bullet-proof pieces. Instead, it's usually the paddleboards and their associated chips that are the problem.

When I worked for Dell several years ago we were awarded an IBM service contract as well. Suddenly, my job got dreadfully easy as all we would do all day long is replace IBM's hard drives. The funny thing is, they were all broken the same way, but they were of a diverse brand. We would have Maxtors, Seagates, IBMs, WD's and so on all with the same problem.

On all of the paddle boards, there was a dual in-line processing chip which would repeatedly burn out. It was by the same manufacturer on ALL of the drives. What was funny is that, in many cases when there was important data on a drive that MUST have been recovered (in one case, there were schematics and CADs of a new submarine being designed by the Navy and it only resided on this ONE hard drive), we could simply replace the paddle boards - a five minute job, and all was not lost.

I don't know why I shared this info other than to tell you that if your hard drive craps out, don't fret. You may actually not have all lost.

On another note, I use Samsung drives in my Audio PC and love them. I have had absolutely no failures (knocking on wood as I type) and they are quiet as all-get-out. In fact, they were (and still are) marketed as quiet drives. So far, I have absolutely no complaints.

I think hard drives are like cars. You'll find someone who loves Ford and hates Chevy. He has nothing but horror stories about Chevy. Then you'll find the Chevy guy who wouldn't drive anything but Chevy and all he knows about Ford is that they're nothing but trouble.

Personally, I drive a Toyota and I think Ford AND Chevy SUCK!

J. 8-)

JoeH Mon, 04/24/2006 - 15:12
Jeremy, I'd like to know about the "paddle board" of what you speak. Do you mean the circuit board that's on the back/underside of the drive, visiable/accessable to the outside world? (If so, I've heard similar stories about this, just didn't know what it was called.)

I've been using mostly Western Digital Drives, mainly because they're readily available at just about any Best Buy, and of course MicroCenter (my all-time fav computer-geek store.) MicroCenter occasionally sells "refurbished" drives that are often nothing more than drives that have been returned by owners for unknown reasons, or drives that were going to be put into other systems. (MicroCenter also builds and modifies their own line of "PowerSpec" computers.)

I recently bought a 250 gig Samsung raw HD, refurbished, for $89.00. It was too good to resist, and it's strictly for offline data storage for one of my regular clients. As soon as I complete a project for them, it goes to the 250 gig Samsung and then taken offline. We don't use it for anything else.

I also use a bunch of FWHD caddies AMS (the "Venus"), again sold at MicroCenter - stealth black case - which is totally portable, runs on FW or USB2, and comes with a simple, easy to replace powersupply. (if you lose or forget the stock model, you can always pick something up at Radio Shack, etc.) It comes apart with two screws, and you can swap out drives in minutes. I own several of these, so keeping an empty one ready to go, on hand for remotes, is a breeze.

Brandon Mon, 04/24/2006 - 15:49
ok as a computer tech of many years, there is no way for us to give you an exact answer without further info.

i suggest you find a DAMN GOOD tech and start locating the problem, it could be anything, but i highly doubt it is the drive or any part of the drive, unless of course you have a crap drive like fu-shit-su or something.

my first instinct here is system cooling, otherwise you just might have a problem with your IDE controller which is most likely on your motherboard.

you are going to go nuts if you keep trying to make it work and keeps ruining your data -- best practice in this case is to get a second pc untill you find out what the hell is going on.

MadMax Mon, 04/24/2006 - 18:55
I don't run PT, but at the day gig, (YECK!!!) I'm pushin' around 50-60 million friggin' images a year... now, if I could just find a way to have my SAN dissapear from the office and show up at home... hmmmmmmm.

At any rate, the fragmentation error message sounds like a typical OS burp.

Restart in "relatively" SAFE MODE. (I say it that way, cause it is relatively safe.)
Change the paging file to something stupid small, like 120Mb. The smaller the better. Don't take it below 32Mb (And for God's sake... DON'T DISABLE IT!!! )
Reboot to normal mode - DON'T RUN ANY APPS!
Change the paging file back to Auto

Windoze has a nasty habit of buidling itself a nice lttle spiral of death in the paging file allocation table. It fills up and dumps on top of itself and eventaully, it gets lost. Resetting the paging will clear out the table and you should be good to go. I'd recommend doing this on a fairly consistant basis... like every 6 months or so.


Brandon Fri, 04/28/2006 - 12:50
madmax i agree we are on the same page, thanks dude.

yes i admit the pagefile does have lots of crazy shit in it, i guess my point was that that's all of the crazy shit that windows uses the ram for mainly at least.

anyway thanks for replying in such a nice way, and please check out this forum i posted about pagefile...

(Dead Link Removed)

nice to meet you madmax

MadMax Fri, 04/28/2006 - 15:16

Same here dude! Always good to meet another hack!!!

Gonna tag a line or two on that thread... essentailly that the paging file, in addition to your correct advise on multi-drive specs, can also hinder the performance if put on too dis-similar drives... at least in 2K, XP Pro and Server 2K3. (98 and NT didn't suffer too lack luster, but the drives we had then weren't what we have now, either!!)

Mainly as a function of the bus architecture and the controller chipset.


Pro Audio Guest Tue, 04/25/2006 - 09:28

thanks for all the replies guys! that gives me some new areas to explore.

sounds like everyone has some expierence in hating harddrive life at one point or another, good to know im not alone.

After having the data recovered by someone, 'frying' may have been a bit of an overstatement. :? The file allocations systems are being damaged by something.. to the point where they are unusable and then have to be repaired (if it sounds like i dont really know what im talking about here, its cause i dont)

I figured since both the drives that have got messed up so far were on the IDE channel, to try my luck with a new SATA drive. I worked on it for like 10 hours last night, it didnt get really bad. But im still seing similar errors.. 'DAE-9073' blah blah.. your drive is to fragmented etc. Im guessing something in wacky pro-tools or xp or both is causing this.

When im in pro-tools, the system will sort of 'pause' for a second, and the menu bar with file, edit, etc turns white. It stays this way for a about 3 minutes. At this time if i CTRL-ALT-DEL and view processes in the task manager pro-tools is taking up 99% of the CPU. Protools will be at like say 600,000 mem usage, every second crawling upwards about 3,000. Untill it gets to 800,000 mem usage and then it unfreezes and its fine again. Wierd stuff going on there.

That was a lot of information, i would be really suprised if anyone is still reading, but if you have any ideas or it sounds familiar feel free to post!

Brandon Tue, 04/25/2006 - 11:18
the page file is DEFINATELY one place to start on this

also consider just using 1 drive

make sure your xp is at least up to sp1

and please also make sure that you are formatting the drive in ntfs, not fat32, fat32 is more recoverable from disaster but ntfs is faster and does not have the fragmentation issues nearly as much.

personally i use 2000 pro for everything audio-related, the down-side to that is some software will only work with xp.

another thing to make sure of is that your drive is not too large.

anyway good luck, again i recommend that you find a damn good tech to track down the problem before you start going to sata etc, even thought that may very well solve your problem, but if it doesn't then you have added yet another variable to the unknown problem

find a great tech, then go from there

Brandon Tue, 04/25/2006 - 11:40
and another thing for everyone else who is frying drives un-explainably...

consider better system cooling and especially hard-drive cooling,
i can tell you those things can get damn hot, and that's not good at all.

the down-side to excessive system and hard-drive cooling is electrical noise on the recording of course (for that make sure you buy cooling fans designed for audio or at least 'brushless' cooling fans) but also more air-flow unfortunately brings more dust/dirt into the pc, but that's easily solved by keeping it in a clean environment and/or cleaning often.

i hope i haven't made things more complex but i may have.

quite honestly i am considering getting into the field of computer maintenence/repair specifically for the audio industry. if anyone thinks that is a good career choice let me know -- it seems there is a market for it.

good luck everyone -- keep those systems cool especially the HDD's, and i gaurantee you will have less problems like this and certainly longer drive life.

as far as page file setting go -- windoze sets the page file between 1.5 and 3 times the size of your physical memory (ram) -- when you install more memory that DOES NOT change -- you need to change it yourself.

a good setting for gamers and audio users is to set the page file to 2.0 to 4.0 the size of the ram (so if you have 1 gig of ram 1024 mb -- set the page file range to 2048 and 4096 mb)

once again i have added more confussion i'm afraid lol,
how bout i just come to each of your houses/studios and fix the stuff myself lol -- airfare and beers are on you of course

Pro Audio Guest Tue, 04/25/2006 - 14:27
page file

i havee 2 gigs of ram. the computer came with one gig, but when editing got intense it did not seem to be enough.

He didnt really seem to have answers for me.. he claimed extremely bad luck.. which i doubt. or a software issue.

hey brandon can u explain this page file thing? could that be an issue? where would i change that setting?


MadMax Tue, 04/25/2006 - 16:01
Re: page file

ShoeBoxDude wrote: hey brandon can u explain this page file thing? could that be an issue? where would i change that setting?


Uhhhh, my first post?!?

The Paging file is a series of reserved areas on your hard drive that Windoze uses for a LOT of different tasks.

Most of the time, Windoze is pretty good of keeping the most critical things it uses organized. These reserved areas are also given some access to programs. Some examples are the stuff that you edit in a file.

When you hit the "Undo" command, the reserve area has that information ready to put back to the last or original state.

The more Undo's you have available, the more reserved area of your drive Windoze is gonna take.

The issue then becomes complicated because the operating system is supposed to ask the owner program what to do with these file fragments. Usually a program will tell Windoze to just dump the crap in a hidden recycle bin. Then the files are supposed to be marked by the OS to "empty" out these files.

Unfortunately, the access to the hidden "Recycle Bin" is strictly controlled by Windoze itself. It keeps track of what's deleted, just in case it needs to get it back.

After a couple of million lines of code and data are written and re-written to the reserved area and then to the trash, especially when the files have the same name - which is real common for code warriors to do, the stupid OS kinda' loses track of what's what. So it just keeps tryin' to figure out the correct parameters for what is what and where is was, and currently is - both on the reserved area and hidden trash.

After a while, all of this junk just kills a drives' performance, clogs RAM, I/O ports and virtually every other aspect of the poor stupid computer's existance.

By resetting the paging file as I outlined above, it has no choice but to clean itself up and start to chew itself up from a fresh point of view.

You really should do the paging file reset proceedure every day in real heavy use, but that ain't practical. Once every three to six months is about as long as I'd wait.

I generally have my PhotoShop crew do a chkdsk, defrag and paging file reset once a month, then do a backup to the server where it gets backed up to tape.

2Gb of RAM is OK, but I've seen XP improve it's performance exponentially even up to a 4Gb upgrade. XP is a real RAM pig... but 2 should be serving you adequately if it's matched to your bus correctly.

Depending on what mobo, HD controller, chipset and CPU you have, most of the time XP and/or 2K perform MUCH better in a 3 drive arrangement... A 2 drive RAID 0/HSS for the OS, a single drive for paging and a third data drive have shown me almost the same performance of a G5 with 2 SATA drives... and it's almost as stable.

I haven't played with a dual core yet... can't wait to get my grubby lil' db's on one... but that another thread.


Brandon Wed, 04/26/2006 - 06:44
you set the page file size by right-clicking my computer, then click properties, advanced...

you will see a box to change the page file size.

i recommend setting it to a minimum of 4096 and a maximum of 8192 (for your 2 gig of ram)

i really dont want to get into an argument with max here but i would NEVER EVER recommend setting it to auto, the reason is when the time comes for the page file size to be changed (automatically and without warning) your entire system will in effect lock you out untill it has completed that operation.

if you have 2-4 gigs many would argue that the page file becomes unneccesary.

if you really want the page file to perform well, microsoft actually recommends that you move it off of the main system drive, but NOT just onto a separate partition on the main drive.

you can create a partition on the secondary drive (make it the first partition on the secondary drive) and make sure it is at least, umm, lets say about 12 gigs -- ntfs and also fat32 need extra room to move stuff around.

the page file does not does not hold all sorts of magical mystery information etc -- it simply holds the overflow from the physical memory.

think of the page file on 2000/xp as the 'virtual memory' on windows 98

either way i highly doubt that the page file is your problem, i am just saying it is one of the first things to make sure everything is set correctly, there are literally hundreds of things that could be causing this. a good tech will make sure everything is junky-dorey before just going ahead and trying a bunch of different things, each which can cause problems themselves.

and windows xp is a huge ram (and therefore page-file) hog.

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 04/30/2006 - 18:10
If you plan to get a new HDD..
Get Western Digital..

How this WD hard drive protects your data:

Data Lifeguard™ is an exclusive set of data protection features: shock protection, an environmental protection system and real-time embedded error detection and repair. WD's Data Lifeguard technology automatically finds, isolates, and repairs problems that may develop from extended use of a hard drive.

Data Lifeguard Tools™ are software utilities designed for WD hard drives. They work with embedded Data Lifeguard features to make hard drive installation, diagnostics and repair simple and worry-free. (Download Data Lifeguard Tools)

ShockGuard™ instantly protects the hard drive against damage from bumps and vibrations while it's running. It gives WD Caviar drives industry-leading shock protection.

From their site.

I have 3 WD's... Never had a problem.. Quiet... Quick..

I've had a Maxtor and Seagate.. both of which have died... Yet the Older of the 3 WD's still runs...

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 05/04/2006 - 20:36
is there any way for an inexperienced hack like me to bring a drive back to life if it's just a burnt ic on the paddle board? how much do those paddle boards cost to replace? i've got a dead drive from a fostex vf08 i used to have, and it has some stuff with real nostalgia value, but not much else. i couldn't justify paying to have the data restored, but i'd love to do a bit of diy on it!

JoeH Sun, 04/30/2006 - 20:13
Big thumbs up here for WD Hard drives. I get them all the time, they're the most reliable from my experience. Price is right for the size, features, etc. MicroCenter and/or Best Buy is always having a sale on one size or another.

I try to keep a new one as a spare/backup on hand here whenever I can; saves me a trip to the store.....

JoeH Thu, 05/04/2006 - 23:00
A friend of mine has tried to get parts like this from WD directly, but no dice- they wont sell that kind of thing to an end-user, they say.

I would think the only way to get a part like this is to buy a similar (working) drive, and parts-swap it that way. You'd probably have to be very careful about this, both in terms of model #s and handling, but it's certainly possible to do, I guess. Get your data from the bad one, and then toss it. Put the board back on the "New" one, and you're good to go once again.

MadMax Wed, 04/26/2006 - 15:38

You WON'T get any arument from me in setting the paging to auto vs manually adjusting it.

As a rule, I don't like to advise anyone to adjust it, unless I KNOW they have a good reason to... and not being a PT user, I don't feel confident enough to advise either way.

I guess I should have recommended that he note the initial page file settings and and then return it to the original settings after resizing it.

I think I'm pretty much on the same "page" as you are Brandon, but the paging file definitely does have alot more going on behind the scenes that isn't visible to the end user.

If we need to move this to the DAW forum, by all means...


RemyRAD Sun, 04/23/2006 - 23:44
ShoeBoxDude, I'm terribly sorry to hear about your hard drive woes. I had a similar situation last year with Samsung brand hard drives. I had 9 drives with similar low hour failures! At first I thought I had done something wrong? They either died altogether without even spinning up, died while in use or, they were just plain dead when I switched on the machine the following day! This was in the middle of numerous projects for a couple of different clients, both audio and video. I lost one of those clients because these 160GB, 120GB and 80 Gigabyte Drives failed me big-time! This is like hitting the lottery's BIG PRIZE multiple times. If only experiences could be reversed? They were covered under the warranty and all nine were replaced. Of course I now have a plethora of hard drives, none of which I'm using for anything important.

THERE IS NO QUALITY CONTROL ANYMORE BECAUSE IT IS NOT COST-EFFECTIVE. (At least for the S. O. B.'s that built these rotten hard drives) With products like these, I think they should change their name to SKAMSKUNK!

Can you tell I'm still PO'd?
Nasty Remy Ann David