Recently, long-time subscriber Tom Sosna wrote with an unusual problem.
I am an avid reader of your newsletter and look forward to its weekly arrival. I have learned a great deal from it, but unfortunately I may still do some dumb things.
A few days ago I downloaded the materials from the self geek web site and started with step one of the series to speed up my computer. Step two involved running the “check disk” tool which is in Windows XP. I checked the fix and repair box as indicated.
Since I knew it would take a while I started this function at bedtime figuring I could check the results in the morning. When I turned on my monitor I got a black screen indicating that the Master Disk HDD SMART capability had been disabled and was further instructed to press F-11 to start the recovery process.
When I researched this on the web, it simply said to go into the BIOS and turn SMART back on and the black screen would go away and the computer would then reboot. I have an e machine D6405 with Phoenix Award BIOS CMOS setup utility. I checked it four times and was unable to find any mention of SMART anywhere as some articles indicated might be the case.
I have two questions.
Why did this situation occur from running the check disk utility and is there any way out of the situation without going through the hours upon hours of work involved in the recovery process?
I’m sure hoping there is. I had purchased Acronis, but hadn’t made it a priority to set it up so I will lose a lot of data. Thanks Terry
This is a strange one, although I found a lot of search results regarding this problem with Windows XP.
For background, the hard disk drive’s Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) is designed to let the hard drive figure out that it’s having problems and to report that to programs that ask its status. Some computer systems will monitor that through the computer’s BIOS. You can also run programs that will check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your drives and report.
S.M.A.R.T. is actually part of the hard drive. Accessing the information is done by programs on the computer, either as part of the BIOS or as part of an added program.
Tom wanted to know why this situation had occurred while running CHKDSK. That’s a good question. I don’t know a good reason why his computer’s BIOS would have instructed his hard drive to turn off the S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, if that’s what it did, but it could have — except that Tom’s eMachine D6405 doesn’t have any option for him to set in his BIOS/CMOS settings to turn it on or off.
It’s possible that the hard drive was nearing failure and that the stress of the full CHKDSK utility stressed it too much — that wouldn’t happen with a basic CHKDSK test-and-fix, but it might if he had set CHKDSK to do a full surface scan.
Unfortunately, from Tom’s description and from what I’ve read in articles linked from Google, in some cases, this appears to be a hard stop in the boot process.
Another thought is that Tom may have multiple hard drives in his computer. I’ve seen the CMOS settings get corrupted and treat the SECOND hard drive as if it were the primary, and try to boot the second hard drive. The fix at that point would be to change the CMOS settings to tell it to boot from the correct drive.
Another step Tom can take is to go into his BIOS/CMOS setup and use the selection to reset all options to their defaults. That could be all it takes.
Tom should also check the support section of the hard drive manufacturer’s web site. They usually have some diagnostic programs that can help determine if the problem is the drive. The programs could include the ability to turn on or off the S.M.A.R.T. capability of the drive.
It wasn’t clear if Tom could complete his boot into Windows or if the computer was simply stopping at that point. If he could boot into Windows, not using the S.M.A.R.T. features of the drive isn’t a real problem.
However, if he’s unable to boot into Windows, I suspect he’ll have to reinstall. At that point, since I knew that the hard drive was involved in some way, I would replace the drive. As I’m sure Tom is now aware, drives are much cheaper than data.