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Windows XP can not complete hard drive format

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Brannok812, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    I have a hard drive that was recently working. Windows XP crashed and I tried, unsuccessfully to reinstall Windows. First, I tried to use a single disc copy I had been given some years ago. I did not have a unique key code, so that install failed to complete. Then tried to utilize the recovery discs for the Compaq desktop computer. These are the original discs. The hard drive is a replacement. I had used the recovery discs successfully on this hard drive already this spring. I decided to try the other XP copy first to avoid the bloatware that comes with the OEM disc set. The setup with the recovery discs failed, so I tried to format the hard drive and start over. I pulled the hard drive from the desktop, and tried to format it as an external drive via a SATA to USB cable. The functioning computer (also running XP) recognizes 6.3G of the 250G total disc space. I am guessing that this was the partition made during the XP install for the recovery section. When I attempt to format (NTFS), the format utility runs through the process and then errors out at the end "can not complete the format". The hard drive spins up and sounds fine. I realize (now) that I should have just used the recovery discs first. How can I repair the hard drive so that I can reinstall Windows XP?
  2. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    If the below doesn't work you can get the HD manufacturer's diagnostic utility that will let you do a low-level format on the HD to completely erase it. Even thoughit will be a Windows program it may have better luck. Which brand is the drive?

    Try Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Computer Management> and then select Disk Management from the left hand pane.

    Take a look at the graphs and figure which drive is the one you want to format. Right-click on each partition on that drive and select Delete. Then when there are no more partitions right-click on the unallocated space and create a new NTFS partition of the maximum size (this is the default). When that is created right-click it and select Format and see if it completes.

    If i completes try the recovery discs again.
  3. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    Thanks for the reply. The hard drive is a Western Digital Caviar WD2500. Firmware B1, 7200 rpm, capacity = 250GB.

    I will try the Disk Management route tonight or tomorrow and see if I can make progress. I have not looked at Western Digital's site to see what utilities are available. Thanks for the tip.
  4. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    The diagnostic programs are really the same for different models so the ones listed here are the choices.

    Data Lifeguard Diagnostic is the program you want to get. You can try the Windows version since you have the drive attached by SATA/USB cable. After being sure you have selected the correct HD you would use the Write Zeros option to overwrite the entire HD. Then quit the program and then go to Disk Management and create a new partition and format it. Then try your recovery disk again.
  5. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    Running Data Lifeguard Diagnostic now. Chose the full instead of the quick write zeroes option. Man, is that slow! When completed, will it be necessary to format the drive before using the recovery discs?
  6. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    Yes, the write zeros writes a zero to every single sector on the drive so it is slow. It is good though that it will mark any bad sectors as bad so Windows shouldn't attempt to use them.

    The recovery discs should be able to partition and format the HD without pre-formatting. Every once in a while an installation disc won't like working with a newly zeroed out drive. If the recovery disks won't partition the drive then use Disk Management to create a new partition and just use the quick format, that will be enough to get the recovery discs to start and create the new partitions it requires.
  7. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    Still writing zeroes. When this utility predicted 90 hrs to complete, it was not joking! At the present rate, it will not be done overwriting all sectors until Friday.
  8. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    I think there is a problem with the HD. Writing zeroes on a 250gb drive should be about 1½ hours, at the most.

    I'm not sure what to tell you do do. The drive probably has to be replaced. Writing zeroes is the most you can do to make it serviceable. But I think quitting and running the short or long diagnostic test will give you a testing result that says the drive is bad.

    I think you may be wasting your time on the current formatting. I think I would quit and run the short test to get a quick diagnostic of the drive and then try the long test to see what it says. The long test should only be 2 hrs. at the most, but I think it may quit early with a diagnosis of a bad HD.
  9. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    Thanks for the reply. I have stopped the continental drift process. Ran a quick test - completely successful. Write Zeroes, quick version... completed successfully. Ran extended test...completed successfully. I will try the recovery discs tonight.
  10. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    Interesting that both tests passed. I'm not sure why the writing zeroes was so slow. I haven't actually written zeroes for about 10 years and it was on a 40gb drive but I still think it should of been an hour or two.

    Please let me know how you get on with the recovery discs.

    If all else fails getting the CD version of the diagnostic and booting the broken computer from the CD with the HD installed will let you run the tests or write zeroes without Windows involved. It might be more efficient at zeroing out the drive. A program like Imgburn will burn the ISO file to CD making it bootable with the "Burn Image File to Disc" option. http://forum.imgburn.com/index.php?showtopic=61
  11. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    Checked the properties while the Western Digital utility is still open:
    Capacity: 250.00 GB
    Firmware Revision: 2E01
    Health Status: Warning
    Device Serial Number: blank, as in nothing listed

    I will see what happens tonight.
  12. the mekanic

    the mekanic Major Mekanical Geek

  13. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    Finally had a chance to put the hard drive back into the computer. Turned it on with the first recovery disc in the drive. "No operating system detected, press R to recover". Did that, and the message "Preparing recovery partition - please wait". After about one or two minutes, the dreaded message "Hard drive write error. Please press any key to continue" appeared. The Compaq screen appears momentarily, then it repeats the process. Operating system not detected, and so on for an essentially endless loop. I tried "esc" to go to the boot menu. Just another path to the same loop. Tried "F1" for Setup. I can see the amount of memory and so on, but did not see anything that was helpful for my current issue. F10 for system recovery was again an on ramp to the endless loop of recovery leading to hard drive write error.
    I have not tried Autonuke yet. Any other suggestions?
  14. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    I have downloaded DBAN, made a disc, and I have loaded it on the desktop. All I see is a blinking cursor and the hard drive light is steady on. I hope that means it is working. How long should DBAN run to wipe a 250 GB drive? Thanks again for all of the assistance.
  15. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    You should be getting a blue screen with text explaining how to run the program.

    It sounds like your computer is trying to boot from your empty HD or you did not burn the CD properly to make it bootable.

    What program did you use to burn the ISO file to the CD?

    Does the Compaq screen give a key to hit to select boot device? This would allow you to select CD as the boot device if the CD was written correctly.

    I've never actually run DBAN, so you may want to wait for the mekanic, but we could try to figure out why you are not seeing the program start. These look like the basic screens even though they are starting the program from a different CD. http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/dban.html
  16. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    I drug the .iso file to the cd drive in My Computer and wrote to disc. Apparently, it is not bootable. Can I make a bootable disc in My Computer, or must I download something? Sorry for the neophyte questions. I used to know something about computers when DOS 3.2 was the OS. I did manage to get to the Compaq screen and choose to boot from CD, but still nothing happens. I am certain I fumbled the disc creation. I will try again.
  17. sach2

    sach2 Major Geek Extraordinaire

    I use imgburn and the "Write IMAGE file to Disc" option. You need to select Image file rather than burn as a data file. In this guide doing 2a rather than 2b makes it clearer that you are writing an image file. Then just browse to the ISO file and select it and hit the Write button.

    I just read the included notes in that zip file you downloaded and it sounds like it doesn't include a CD/DVD version. I would have thought that .386.iso file in there would have been bootable from CD but am unsure.

    Download the CD/DVD version directly from SourceForge just to be sure and then use Imgburn to write this file to disc instead. http://www.dban.org/download

    Edit: I just noticed that imgburn installer includes offers for toolbars or the like, so read the installer carefully and opt out of any extra software. Imgburn itself is a rock-solid burning program and worth the install.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
  18. Brannok812

    Brannok812 Private E-2

    I have successfully used imgburn to make a cd of dban and I have started dban. As with the Western Digital utility, this is moving glacially slow. It took 27 minutes to make 0.1% of the first of 3 planned passes. The throughput is measured between 0.7 and 1.4 KB/s. I am not experienced with this program, but that seems far to slow. Hopefully the predicted time remaining of 442:56:23 is an overestimation. The drive is 250 GB / 7200 rpm, so I am perplexed as to why the drive is so slow. Any ideas?

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