Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dear Diary #50: Hard Drive Dropped Dead, PCI-E Pin Problem

Dear Diary,

FFFFFFFFFFFFfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff. I was in the middle of watching TV when my computer made the noise of a USB item disconnecting. Maybe a driver or something crashed and it would fix itself after a reboot, no biggy? Then I started hearing noises coming from my computer, those of a mechanical hard drive parking or moving its head around. There were also some weird beeps. Clicking on the USB icon in the tray showed that one of my hard drives was missing. Was it my seven year old cheaper 3.5" drive that I had barely used over the past 3 years? Nope. It was my three year old 2.5" drive that was supposedly built for a rougher life in laptops with the longer warranty. Both from the same maker. First hard drive that I've ever had die on me in something like 20 years of using computers at home and at work. I actually back things up semi-regularly these days so almost everything important is fine. Only the huge files that I can easily replace died -- except for hours of raw video footage that I kept just in case that I'm okay with losing.

I said I would run my computer into the ground before replacing it. Okay, so one of my primary hard drives just dropped dead. A few months back, my RAM started getting wonky. At the very end of last year, the video card died. There is like nothing left to watch die anymore. Short of the motherboard shorting out or the CPU dropping dead, or my primary SSD drive with the OS on it dying, it's game over. The power supply technically works but I can't help but think that it may be contributing to the problem.

Oh great. Did a little bit of research and found out my dead hard drive may have its head stuck to the platter -- the site I found the info on had a sound file of the noise associated with the failure. The site also said it's more common among 2.5" drives. Well, it seemed like a great idea three years ago to get a smaller drive that, I thought, used a few watts less power. Never doing that again for a desktop with standard mechanical drives.

Found the receipt for my dead hard drive. Wow, I only paid CA$ 60 back in 2014. Store has the updated model with the same size for $70 now. Thank you, inflation/exchange rate.

Almost replaced my dead drive with a second SSD but at half the size... Decided against it since the price was $50 higher for half the size. Really didn't want to deal with another mechanical issue but I went back to a 3.5" replacement HDD so shouldn't have a problem. Fingers crossed that this one lasts as long as the eight year old one I wasn't using but left connected to my machine. Regardless, there went $90 and four hours -- I'm really slow working inside my computer because I usually do some cleaning, reroute some wires, take some things out, change my mind and redo things, etc. I am not looking forward to when I have to actually replace the thing and have to take everything but the hard drives and optical drive out. Pretty sure I'm leaving the optical drive mounted but not hooked up next time since I'm using it once every few years now -- and I got an external one for this exact reason.

Found out one of the pins on the PCI-E GPU power cable connecting to the PSU was pushed almost out of its socket. I only found out because I pulled the unused cable out. So, for seven years, my GPU may have had an incomplete connection. Never would have known if GPUs didn't become power efficient enough that my latest gets enough juice from the motherboard. Looked like maybe something was misaligned, and pushing it into the socket pushed the female pin out instead of into the male pin. It was a black cable so possibly a ground. If I was lucky, it was part of the two extra pins to make it go from 6 to 8 pins -- my cards only ever used 6 pins. Regardless, my previous two GPUs had intermittent problems over seven years when that PCI-E cable was in use but almost always while idling on the desktop and not under heavy load...


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