September 13th, 2010, 02:15 PM
IDE Hard Drive Diagnostics Machine
As usual I only come around when I need something...
Anyway, I have a customer who is in the arcade machine business. He informed me the other day that when a machine fails, he first sends the hard drives from the machines off to have them tested for errors before he starts diagnosing the main board. He's pretty smart about hardware, and very handy with a soldering iron, but he just doesn't know much about computers in general.
I asked if I could see one of the drives, and I was surprised to see that it was a regular everyday IDE hard drive. I told him I could check the disk for errors for a fraction of the cost (they were charging like $170 where he shipped it). After talking with him further, we've decided to build a machine used especially for checking hard drives.
I know that the Ultimate Boot CD has just about every hard drive manufacturers utility built-in. I was thinking I could put the image of the UBCD on one partition and Windows XP on another, and have the option to boot to one or the other when the computer comes on. I could buy a one of these and a couple of these and get them outside the case somehow to make it easy to hook up drives to be tested.
What do you guys think? Is there a better way to build a 'hard drive testing machine'? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
September 13th, 2010, 02:51 PM
Great idea, but those components would mean the system needs to be turned on/off continuosly.
Why not just grab a USB to IDE and SATA Combo Adapter, that way while the system is still running, he only has to plug the drive in, run check, then unplug the drive and plug in another if needed.
Something like this would be perfect:>
September 13th, 2010, 02:54 PM
Also the partition setup would work, but personally i would run the UBCD from a CD/DVD without a dedicated hard drive in the PC, that way your mate doesn't accidently the hard-drive during testing and thus ends up with more problems.
just saves on clicking the wrong button and accidently and deleting the XP partition or the UBCD partition, then you having to come on-site and fixing etc etc
September 13th, 2010, 04:13 PM
The problem w/ using a USB to IDE adapter (which I have) is that many of the manufacturer disk checking programs included on the UBCD will not check USB for compatible drives to check - only IDE banks.
Also, my first inclination is to use the manufacturer disk diagnostic tools to test a HDD. But what are the advantages of using the manufacturer's drive diagnostics tools over something like, say, Microsoft Scandisk? That I could use a USB adapter with and hook up to a laptop without having to build a dedicated machine.
As far as having to turn the computer on/off constantly, that shouldn't be a problem since it wouldn't be used all that frequently.
September 13th, 2010, 04:35 PM
Nothing really, use Scandisk and or CHKDSK /r (http://vlaurie.com/computers2/Articles/chkdsk.htm). The only big advantages the mfg's tools may have is in formatting, usually they can do it faster with more detailed options. Not many have enhanced scan/check features.
Originally Posted by wiskic10_4
September 13th, 2010, 08:14 PM
1. The manufacturer's diagnostics generally run from bootable media whereas MS stuff runs from within Windows. This can be important if you only have 1 drive.
2. MS does not check SmartDrive logs
3. I have never had a problem with manufacturer's software.............I have had plenty with Microcrap's
4. If the drive is still under warranty the manufacturer's software will tell you. I have pulled that stunt a few times when the OEM's 12 month warranty had expired but the drive had a 3 year one
5. The manufacturer's stuff looks at the state of the physical HDD. Microcrap just tries to fix Windows. If these are arcade game machines I wonder if they run Windows?................that could be disastrous if they don't.
You might look into docking stations as opposed to adapters or caddies. I haven't tried yet but they may be recognised as external HDDs rather than a USB memory device.
September 16th, 2010, 02:17 AM
I've decided I would just go ahead with the UBCD installed on a separate partition. I got the long power cable and IDE cable in today. I think it will work out well, only now I'm having a little trouble getting my multi-boot setup... probably because I installed the FAT32 partition for the UBCD at the front of the drive (making it C and Windows XP at the back... Windows booted fine, but all of the system files (boot.ini, etc) were on C: and the OS was on F: - when I decompressed the UBCD ISO to C: and tried to boot up, it just froze...
Trying it again with Windows installed on the NTFS partition at the front of the drive - hopefully it will work out. I'll post back my results.
September 16th, 2010, 06:34 PM
OK - I finally got it going my way - this is how I
Install UBCD to Hard Drive and Multi-boot with UBCD to build an IDE Hard Drive Diagnostics Machine
(^^for search engine purposes^^)
Anyway, first I installed Windows XP. On the install screen, I deleted the existing partition(s), and created a new one, NTFS, for XP. I used 70GB of the 80GB available (70000MB).
After I got XP installed and patched/updated/etc, I then downloaded the UBCD ISO file. Then, I followed the instructions here:
I opted for WinRar rather than 7Zip, and I used EASEUS to partition my free space, creating a 1GB FAT32 partition to house the UBCD image (leaving me with 9GB free).
Now, all of this worked good and great, but I could not get the machine to boot both partitions from a menu no matter how I tried to configure boot.ini - the MBR can only have one active bootable partition, and I could not for the life of me figure out what parameters would make it boot the UBCD partition - It would try, then just reboot.
So I decided to install Slackware Linux on the remaining space. I figured this way I could use the LILO bootloader, and I would have a Linux partition should I ever need it.
After I got Slackware installed and configured LILO to boot the Windows XP partition, the UBCD partition and the Linux partition, I hooked in my extra-long IDE ribbon and power cable, and I was good to go! I've tested 10 hard drives I had stacked up so far - about half of them were bad (which is about what I expected - probably why they weren't used up already).
The only downside of this setup is the fact that you need to power down the machine in between tests - but, the customer will probably only need it a couple of times a week, so it should work out fine.
Note that there was no need to install Windows XP, except that I wanted to have a fully functional computer that doubled as a hard drive testing machine.
Questions? Comments? Things you'd like to think about?
Also - there must be an easier way to install a bootloader, but I wasn't aware of any, so I did what I knew would work.
(if anyone wants to build a machine like this and comes across this post doing research, feel free to contact me via e-mail if you have any questions - see my profile for contact info)
September 17th, 2010, 12:03 PM
A neat solution!
BTW what OS do these arcade machines use?
That is one of the reasons I favour the manufacturer's diagnostics, as they are OS independent and just look at the drive itself.
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