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Old 08-10-2006, 01:39 PM   #1
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Hardware Question

Yes, I know I'm a computer technician, but I do campus standard software, not hardware so I've got a question: I have a 4+ year old HP Pavilion laptop that I bought two years ago, used, for $200. At the time it was incapacitated by viruses, but since I get Microsoft products free through MSDN, I simply installed Windows XP Pro SP2 and all was well.

Now, I think my hard drive is on it's way out, but I want to verify it is in fact the hard drive. My computer has slowed WAY down in the past few months, but what's really telling is that it'll often make a loud click, sometimes followed by a beep.

Two days ago I came upstairs and there was a bios-like screen that said something like "Boot From: 1) Hard drive 2) CD-ROM drive 3) Network Card 4) Other" and when I selected hard drive, it blinked and moved down to CD-ROM. I'm assuming the compy automatically installed a Windows update, which restarts the computer on it's own, and then it was unable to recognize the hard drive as the boot disk. I restarted it a few times and then it booted to Windows and has been on every since.

Another symptom is sometimes when I open my computer and it "wakes" up (I never shut it down), it gets stuck on a black screen with a blinking cursor and will take 5 minutes before loading the Windows login. I thought maybe this is because the wireless card is trying to connect (I've heard wireless can sometimes slow down boot), but I don't know.


Hard drive - yes? no? It is worth it to reinstall the OS or should I let it run it's course (ie, die)?
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Old 08-13-2006, 04:17 AM   #2
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I would say for sure that its the hard drive there are many different diagnostic tools that you can run to test the hard drive itself.

Just google it. Other thing is when you hear the clicking coming from the computer you could always just disconnect the hard drive and see if it goes away....if it does that drive definatly needs to be replaced and you should be backing up your information right away.
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Old 08-13-2006, 05:25 AM   #3
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Yes, sounds like the harddrive to me too.

Especially if the hard drive is the same age as the laptop (4+ years).
Unexplainable noises coming from your computer never good.

My laptop had slowed WAY down too over the last few months(and you know what happened to me, right?).
If your hard drive is almost full to it's limit, that'll slow things down as well.

Having to restart the computer multiple times to boot to Windows is not a great sign.

I agree with Yahweh: back up your information right away!

If you got a back up of all the data on your hard drive, it won't hurt to reinstall the OS.
But if your harddrive is near it's end, it could very well be that a reinstallment won't be succesfull.
(Which is exactly what happened to my husband's harddrive.
His laptop crashed after mine. We were able to recover all the data from it. But reinstalling the Windows OS failed every time).

Nothing wrong with booting from the CD-rom drive.
If you put a new hard drive in, that's how you'll have to get the OS on it, if I'm not mistaken.

You can do a hard drive test in the BIOS.
That's how we found out my harddrive was dead, 'cause it failed that test.
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Old 08-13-2006, 04:50 PM   #4
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I have an external drive and several spaces on various networks that I backup to, so losing data won't be an issue. I'm a little hesistant to reinstall Windows since this thing is probably past it's expected shelf life anyway and I don't think the boot files or the OS itself is corrupted.

I have it on right now (I'm on it) so I suppose I'll let it run its course...
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Old 08-14-2006, 08:46 AM   #5
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Windows wouldn't make a clicking noise and a beep normally indicates a hardware problem

But luckily hard drives are very cheap at the moment.
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Old 08-14-2006, 09:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega
Windows wouldn't make a clicking noise and a beep normally indicates a hardware problem

Well duh, but is the beep always the hard drive? Or CPU? Motherboard?

I have so many diagnostics discs at work but they're all for IMB/Lenovos or Dells so I'll try to find something for HP. Too bad I bought it used and it didn't come with any of its discs.
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Old 08-14-2006, 11:58 AM   #7
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Here's a MS article about the black screen issue:

http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=kb;en-us;314503
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Old 08-14-2006, 06:44 PM   #8
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There is even sort of a code for the beeping. One short beep at the start is normal, a long beep means that, two beeps mean this.

That the computer has slowed down doesn't necessarily mean that the hardware has a problem. Maybe there are just too many files on the computer, or some tweaking tools working, or too much processes in the background.

The clicking noise really sounds like the hard drive. A CPU or Motherboard doesn't have moving parts that can make such noises.
Best way would be to unplug the hard drive and only use the external drive only. The clicking should stop, and hopefully the beeping as well.
If both continues it is a bit harder to find out what it is.
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Old 08-14-2006, 11:05 PM   #9
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I have beep codes memorized, but mine has never beeped at startup. I rarely shut the computer down. The black screen with a blinking white cursor happens once the computer tries to wake up. The clicking happens more and more frequently (I've been on for about 15 minutes and it's done it almost a dozen times). The beeping almost always happens when I'm loading a webpage full of pictures and try to scroll down fast - things like that where the computer is like "ah! too much data to load!" and it beeps. This is also when it slows way down. I've gone through selective startup countless times and removed everything I don't need and it's still slowing down. I want to unplug the drive, but my external drive is USB and I don't have USB 2.0 so it's painfully slow, and there's nothing bootable on it at the moment. I was thinking maybe the RAM is going bad but if that were the case, I don't think the computer would boot or wake up at all.

My poor computer It has served me well.
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Old 08-23-2006, 08:28 AM   #10
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Update: it died

I reinstalled Windows last week, but still the clicking, beeping, and terrible slowness. Last night, I was typing cover letters and got a blue screen of death, complaining about disk.sys. I tried to reboot, but it wasn't finding a hard drive. I booted off of a CD and started to run chkdsk, but that crashed too. Now I'm at work and have my hard drive connected to this computer via SATA-to-USB adapter and was luckily able to recover my cover letters! Actually, I think the disk is OK besides the bad boot sectors. I ran chkdsk again from this computer and it said the drive is fine
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:44 AM   #11
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My HP laptop lasted me about 3 years before the speakers blew, the screen flickered and it refused to shut down when asked.
I cleaned the hard drive but I ended up selling it to upgrade and try a different brand.
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