New Year, New Hard Disk

Exactly 50 weeks ago [and, yes, I am counting] from Tesco Direct we bought me a Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop: 4Gb RAM, 500GB hard drive. In terms of power and storage, my new Windows 7 machine dwarfed my very elderly but doggedly reliable Windows XP Sony Vaio desktop: 1 GB RAM, 120Gb hard drive. Naturally, my new toy out-performed my trusty old workhorse noticeably in the speed department. Regrettably, a week after installing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and after only four weeks of ownership, I ended up having to re-install the laptop from scratch.

Cutting a long story short, my Inspiron failed several times more requiring yet more re-installations of Windows 7 from scratch to encourage it back into life. After the second such instance, Windows began issuing a less than comforting message: “Windows has detected that your hard drive is about to fail” together with offering to enter a system back-up process. I stopped putting anything critical on the machine and continued to live with it. It began to look as though I did, indeed, have a dodgy disk drive perhaps with some bad surface areas on it. By running a chkdsk to fix/bypass bad areas and stopping windows doing updates, the machine seemed to stabillize.

Foolishly, about a week ago, thinking that chkdsk had fixed my problem, I became complacent and started letting Windows update itself. Mistake! I went for my fourth re-installation of Windows within a year. I had a new wrinkle: “Windows cannot be installed on this partition because the hard drive is about to fail”. Hmm? Curiously, it allowed me to go ahead anyway and I was back up and running – until I shut down, that is. Upon restarting, an even more worrying message began to appear: “No hard drive detected”. I withdrew the hard drive and re-seated it just to make sure. Still no joy. Dead in the water!

I spotted that my drive was a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 500Gb and that it did not seem to enjoy an enviable reliability reputation. Failures were relatively commonplace. One write-up suggested that 2.5inch drives >300Gb might be generally unreliable. Technically the machine should still be covered by its one-year warranty from somebody, either Dell or Tesco direct, but I really couldn’t be bothered to jump through those hoops. It looked as though, for £50-ish I could get a replacement hard drive. I wasn’t scratching the surface of 500Gb [Ed: looks as though someone had scratched the surface, though :D] so I thought 250Gb would do fine and just may be more reliable.

Spotting a review on trusty ol’ Amazon for a Toshiba 250Gb disk saying, “I used it to replace a failing drive in my Dell Inspiron 1545” ( ❗ ), I ordered one. It arrived yesterday, three days ahead of schedule on free delivery, and I slotted it in. I installed Windows 7 for a fifth time in a year; no message saying it couldn’t be installed because the disk was about to fail. I booted up and started installing a few applications: no message saying Windows had detected that my hard drive was about to fail. Here I am writing about it on my revived machine.

I took a good deal of pleasure whacking my old Seagate hard drive with a large hammer:

“Windows has detected that your hard drive has disintegrated.” 😀

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