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Is my hard drive failing?


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#1 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2012 8:53 AM

Recently I have been having some issues with my slim model 360 which I purchased only days after the slim released. It has a 250GB hdd inside which I transferred all the contents of my previous drive to. I had the previous drive since I purchased my first 360 on release day. As you can imagine it has a lot of saved games, arcade games, and DLC on it. For the last week or so I have been having issues with HD-DVD's lagging throughout viewing. Everything is fine for a bit then there are a few seconds of reduced framerate and then they return to normal. A few minutes later it happens again. I assumed that this was related to my recent display change. Now I'm not so sure. In the last few days I've had more unusual behavior and now I'm thinking the display and the HD-DVD drive are not the issue at all. The issue is either my console or the hard drive. I have noticed that at times it takes the console a long time to load my games list. Most of the time it loads the list completely but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a game will be missing from the list. Other times all the games will be there but an icon will be missing and there is just a black area where the art should be. I play Serious Sam a lot and recently when I load TSE it sometimes doesn't load correctly and many graphical elements are replaced by squares. I will take a picture of this tonight so you can see what it looks like.

As a computer geek my first thought is that this is a hard drive that is on its way out. While it often works correctly it may be having issues reading and sometimes fails. Since this is out-of-warranty I'm tempted to plug it into my computer and run an extended SMART test. I'm concerned about stressing it though because I would like to get my data off before it fails totally. I'm aware though that the system itself could be the culprit. I had an online chat session with Xbox tech support and after running me through the standard procedures of unplugging, reseating, wiping cache, and resetting video, all of which I had already done beforehand, he recommended that I format the drive. I don't think a format is going to fix this issue when clearly the data is not corrupt. If it were corrupt it would read incorrectly all the time, not some of the time. I would rather buy a new drive and transfer than reformat. If it turns out the drive is not the issue MS charges $100 for out-of-warranty console repair service.

So, before I spend money on this I want to get some more opinions. Based on what I have described above do you think imminent hard drive failure is likely or do you think it is a failing console? Thanks for looking.

#2 onlysublime OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2012 12:54 PM

I would say you have a corrupt file in your system cache causing these problems. clear your system cache. that's by far the easiest solution than replacing hardware.

http://support.xbox....ar-system-cache

but if you've already done that, yeah, I don't know what to say.

in terms of the console taking a long time to load your game list, is this after you exit out of a game or an app? because the 360 OS is not a multitasking operating system. It does have some dedicated access for some functionality but it's not a multitasking OS. So when you exit a game or an app, it has to reload most of the dashboard and repull the information from the hard drive to get information like storage or your games list. They do a decent job of hiding the fact that it's still loading your dash but it's quite easy to see what is and isn't loaded yet. Just like it seems that you boot to dashboard right away and appears to fully boot in a few seconds but a lot of stuff is not loaded in yet.

Edited by onlysublime, Tue Apr 3, 2012 12:55 PM.


#3 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2012 3:07 PM

I would say you have a corrupt file in your system cache causing these problems. clear your system cache. that's by far the easiest solution than replacing hardware.

http://support.xbox....ar-system-cache

but if you've already done that, yeah, I don't know what to say.


Yes, I tried that as part of this whole ordeal:

I had an online chat session with Xbox tech support and after running me through the standard procedures of unplugging, reseating, wiping cache, and resetting video, all of which I had already done beforehand, he recommended that I format the drive.


Thanks for the suggestion though.

in terms of the console taking a long time to load your game list, is this after you exit out of a game or an app? because the 360 OS is not a multitasking operating system. It does have some dedicated access for some functionality but it's not a multitasking OS. So when you exit a game or an app, it has to reload most of the dashboard and repull the information from the hard drive to get information like storage or your games list. They do a decent job of hiding the fact that it's still loading your dash but it's quite easy to see what is and isn't loaded yet. Just like it seems that you boot to dashboard right away and appears to fully boot in a few seconds but a lot of stuff is not loaded in yet.


What I mean by it taking a long time to load the list is that the amount of time it takes to load the games list is very inconsistent. I understand that loading from a cold boot and after exiting the game are essentially the same. Sometimes when I go to my games list I'm getting the spinning "hourglass" for a minute or longer and at other times it will load almost instantly. Even if the list is already loaded I can just back out and then go back in and it can take a while. I don't remember it ever being like that.

I think I might go ahead and try an extended self test on the drive to determine if the drive is failing. I appreciate the suggestions.

#4 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2012 7:11 PM

I plugged the hdd into my Linux desktop and executed both a short and long SMART self test and the drive passed both. That leads me to believe the drive is fine. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next.

#5 moycon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2012 7:33 PM

Sorry to hear of your troubles.
I saw you using the HD DVD drive last week and thought "Hey I'm not the only one that uses that old thing!"
I will say I've been using it with my Gear of War 3 Slim and haven't had any issues at all.

Do you have any spare HDDs lying around? I cracked open an old 20GB 360 HDD and took out the drive and used it in a stripped down Arcade Slim I got cheap at Xmas time.
My thought is you could try a different HDD and just download a few items and use it as normal and see if the problems continues. Then you'd know if it was the HDD or the unit.

#6 Atariboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 3, 2012 8:39 PM

I had strange things happening, including some of your symptoms (And many more), when my first Xbox 360 started to fail and eventually got the RROD.

That HD kept on kicking on the replacement console for a couple of more years after that before I gave it to a friend when I bought a larger HD. Imagine it's still working for him to this day.

Moycon's suggestion is a good one. And even if you don't have another HD, you could utilize a USB memory stick for the purpose.

#7 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 8:46 AM

After running the SMART tests last night I put the drive back in the 360 and I didn't have any issues last night. For now I will go ahead and use it until I see the problem happen again. I did delete and re-download Serious Sam TSE. I don't have another hdd to try that I can think of. I believe I gave my previous drive to a friend though I will have to check to be sure. It's a good thing we have the cloud save service. I copied pretty much all of my saved games up so losing all my data would mean having to download all my XBLA games, installing games to the hdd, and downloading all my DLC again. I would lose all my original Xbox saves because they can't be copied to the cloud saves but I mostly play those games on the original hdd unless they have true widescreen which means the 360 upscales them in fullscreen.

One thing that pisses me off... I realized the transfer cable I had only works with the old style drive. So I went to Gamestop to pick up the current transfer cable so I can hook the hdd into my computer to perform the tests. I asked the guy behind the counter for a transfer cable and he said there should be one right behind him. He turns around and takes one off the hook, I pay and head home. When I get home I realize the seal on the box is broken and part of the box is ripped. When I opened it up everything was obviously repacked into the box. I looked at the sticker on the box and it says "NEW". What a crock. My wife is going to swing by there while I am at work and tell them I either want the used price or an exchange. When is Gamestop going to get it through their thick skulls? New items are sealed. An opened item is USED. I'm betting someone at the store opened it to do a transfer for themselves or a customer and then they put it back in the box and right back where it was on the rack.

#8 Metal Ghost OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 9:27 AM

Sorry to hear of your troubles.
I saw you using the HD DVD drive last week and thought "Hey I'm not the only one that uses that old thing!"
I will say I've been using it with my Gear of War 3 Slim and haven't had any issues at all.

Do you have any spare HDDs lying around? I cracked open an old 20GB 360 HDD and took out the drive and used it in a stripped down Arcade Slim I got cheap at Xmas time.
My thought is you could try a different HDD and just download a few items and use it as normal and see if the problems continues. Then you'd know if it was the HDD or the unit.


I used to love my HD-DVD. Main reason I packed mine away is that the cables on the back (both power and USB) were always very loose. So it would often happen that during the middle of a movie it would glitch out on me. I tried wedging things in-between the cable exiting the drive and the shelf in order to get a tight connection with varying degrees of success, but I was never happy with that one (but very important) aspect of my drive. Not sure if it was just mine or an issue with the design. I had tried using different USB cables as well (you're kind of stuck with the power cable) but that didn't seem to help.

#9 moycon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 12:42 PM

New items are sealed. An opened item is USED. I'm betting someone at the store opened it to do a transfer for themselves or a customer and then they put it back in the box and right back where it was on the rack.


I agree. I've bought games from them before. Last time it was Katamari for the PS3, I bought it "new" and they go to the drawer and pull out the game out, remove it from a paper sleeve, and stick it in the case and hand it to me. WTF!? If they want to open a game and let some one try it, fine, it's now a used game! I didn't say anything, but don't buy new games from Gamestop anymore.

#10 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 12:58 PM

My wife took the cable to Gamestop and they exchanged it for a new sealed one. They said they must have given me the transfer cable they use in-store by mistake.

I used to love my HD-DVD. Main reason I packed mine away is that the cables on the back (both power and USB) were always very loose. So it would often happen that during the middle of a movie it would glitch out on me. I tried wedging things in-between the cable exiting the drive and the shelf in order to get a tight connection with varying degrees of success, but I was never happy with that one (but very important) aspect of my drive. Not sure if it was just mine or an issue with the design. I had tried using different USB cables as well (you're kind of stuck with the power cable) but that didn't seem to help.


That sounds like a problem with your particular drive or cables. The cables on my HD-DVD drive are very snug. I actually have to pull with some amount of force when I want to unhook the thing.

I have a ton of HD-DVD's and many of them are sealed so I still use my unit. I have one Blu-Ray movie and the fantastic Disney WOW Blu-Ray calibration disc (which I use in combination with the AVCHD free calibration disc, which is probably my favorite calibration disc and can be downloaded for 360 or other devices from avsforum, and AVIA calibration DVD to get my display as perfectly calibrated as possible) so I don't use Blu-Ray very much yet. I will get more Blu-Ray discs eventually. The thing that kind of sucks about the HD-DVD's is that many Warner Brothers discs deteriorate over time due to an issue with the manufacturing process used by the company that made their discs. So sometimes you will buy a WB disc still in shrink wrap and it will be garbage. Either the player can't load it or parts of the movie will be unreadable. This applies to a lot of movies because a ton of HD-DVD's are WB movies. Luckily WB seems perfectly willing to replace faulty HD-DVD discs with Blu-Ray discs if you contact them and send them the bad media. I'm about to send a batch their way. I suppose I will have more Blu-Ray content after that.

#11 onlysublime OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 3:58 PM

My wife took the cable to Gamestop and they exchanged it for a new sealed one. They said they must have given me the transfer cable they use in-store by mistake.

I used to love my HD-DVD. Main reason I packed mine away is that the cables on the back (both power and USB) were always very loose. So it would often happen that during the middle of a movie it would glitch out on me. I tried wedging things in-between the cable exiting the drive and the shelf in order to get a tight connection with varying degrees of success, but I was never happy with that one (but very important) aspect of my drive. Not sure if it was just mine or an issue with the design. I had tried using different USB cables as well (you're kind of stuck with the power cable) but that didn't seem to help.


That sounds like a problem with your particular drive or cables. The cables on my HD-DVD drive are very snug. I actually have to pull with some amount of force when I want to unhook the thing.

I have a ton of HD-DVD's and many of them are sealed so I still use my unit. I have one Blu-Ray movie and the fantastic Disney WOW Blu-Ray calibration disc (which I use in combination with the AVCHD free calibration disc, which is probably my favorite calibration disc and can be downloaded for 360 or other devices from avsforum, and AVIA calibration DVD to get my display as perfectly calibrated as possible) so I don't use Blu-Ray very much yet. I will get more Blu-Ray discs eventually. The thing that kind of sucks about the HD-DVD's is that many Warner Brothers discs deteriorate over time due to an issue with the manufacturing process used by the company that made their discs. So sometimes you will buy a WB disc still in shrink wrap and it will be garbage. Either the player can't load it or parts of the movie will be unreadable. This applies to a lot of movies because a ton of HD-DVD's are WB movies. Luckily WB seems perfectly willing to replace faulty HD-DVD discs with Blu-Ray discs if you contact them and send them the bad media. I'm about to send a batch their way. I suppose I will have more Blu-Ray content after that.


Yikes! I didn't know that about the HD-DVD discs. Pretty much all of them are WB. If it was WB, HD-DVD would've died well before its actual death. Was the process easy to replace them? Just call up customer support?

Edited by onlysublime, Wed Apr 4, 2012 3:58 PM.


#12 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 4:18 PM

There is a phone number posted in the HD-DVD section of avsforum. They can redirect people to the correct place. They send a pre-posted package to put your discs in. I haven't done it yet. I've just read about other people doing it in the thread there. I would say about half my HD-DVD's are WB and of them only about 6 or so are bad. That isn't terrible considering I have all the HD-DVD combo packs which were all WB and a bunch of WB singles. Of the 4 combo packs which contain 4 movies a piece I only have 2 bad movies. Other people seem to be experiencing much higher failure rates than I am. Most of the rest of my movies are Universal and they do not have this issue. There are a couple of titles that are not Universal or WB that have the same problem. One is the Planet Earth series. That has a bunch of discs in it of course. I tried the first disc in mine last night and it played just fine. I need to go through them all to know that known have them have deteriorated.

Even if you have watched a particular movie before you should still check it because these are all discs that worked at one time and have begun failing within the last couple of years.

#13 moycon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 4, 2012 6:20 PM

Wow I hadn't heard of this before. I have a considerable collection of HD DVDs myself. I'll admit I haven't watched much on HD DVD recently. I think the last flick was Blade Runner a few months back.
Thanks for the info. This'll give me an excuse to play through my collection and see if I have any stinkers.

#14 cybercylon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:26 AM

I plugged the hdd into my Linux desktop and executed both a short and long SMART self test and the drive passed both. That leads me to believe the drive is fine. I'm not sure what I'm going to do next.


While your problem may not have been due to the HD after all, SMART tests are not always as reliable as you would think. If it does fail, that means replace it right away! However, I've had drives fail despite having it pass with the SMART status. As with many diagnostics, the test only reports what happens at the time the test was taken. If the problem is sporadic and doesn't happen during the test, it's easy to walk away thinking everything is fine.

#15 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:57 AM

Sure. I agree a drive can be failing and still pass SMART or the problem could be intermittent and go undetected by SMART. But most of the time, if the short test doesn't detect a problem, the extended test does. I wasn't seeing problems so intermittent that the 2 hour extended test would gloss over it. It is possible. I just don't think it is terribly likely. I actually haven't had a problem since I took the drive out and ran the tests. Maybe Serious Sam 2 did have some corruption and it showed up in more ways than I expected. Around the same time I ran these tests I removed Serious Sam 2 and downloaded it again. Time will tell.

#16 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012 12:09 AM

Just an update...

1) This hdd has not given me any problems since I reinstalled SSam2. I just finished Clive Barker's Jericho this week and installed Alan Wake so it will be ready to go as it is next on my list.

2) WB replaced all my bad HD-DVD discs with brand new Blu Ray discs. They sent me a pre-paid shipping label and everything. There was one disc that they didn't have a Blu Ray for and they let me exchange that one for a title of my choice. If you have WB HD's check them and make sure they haven't deteriorated. Usually you cannot tell visually. You need to try and play the movie. If the movie plays skip through some chapters and make sure it plays to the end.

#17 onlysublime OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012 1:17 AM

Just an update...

1) This hdd has not given me any problems since I reinstalled SSam2. I just finished Clive Barker's Jericho this week and installed Alan Wake so it will be ready to go as it is next on my list.

2) WB replaced all my bad HD-DVD discs with brand new Blu Ray discs. They sent me a pre-paid shipping label and everything. There was one disc that they didn't have a Blu Ray for and they let me exchange that one for a title of my choice. If you have WB HD's check them and make sure they haven't deteriorated. Usually you cannot tell visually. You need to try and play the movie. If the movie plays skip through some chapters and make sure it plays to the end.


do you have to sit through the entire movie to check if it's bad? i have a lot of warner discs.

#18 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012 1:21 AM

No. I have a lot too. It took a while for me to go through them but watching them all would not have been possible. Most bad discs would not load at all or they froze within the first couple of seconds to minute of the movie. Some of them fail about halfway through though. So once you make sure the beginning is working okay just skip through the movie a few chapters at a time.

#19 Atariboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 7, 2012 6:30 PM

Only way to really know is to watch it all the way through. Successfully skipping to a later chapter doesn't mean the chapters you passed through are trouble free.

#20 Hyper_Eye OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 8, 2012 7:54 PM

That is the only way to be sure but it just isn't a realistic approach to testing all the discs. Most of the problem discs are going to be weeded out without having to watch the whole thing. If you can skip through every three or four chapters and the movie plays fine each time then it is probably okay. Worse case scenario you find out later on that you missed one or two and you make another exchange.

By the way, the bad WB discs and the frame dropping issue are two different things. When one of the WB discs is bad you are not able to watch the movie or a section of the movie. This frame dropping issue that I mentioned in the OP is most definitely an issue with the display. I am working with Panasonic to resolve it albeit not as quickly as I would like.




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