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Thread: ST506-style Hard drive failing cold

  1. #1
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    Default ST506-style Hard drive failing cold

    I had to salvage the HDA assembly from a Miniscribe 8425SA scsi disk to make a working regular 8425 using the two cable interface. If I'm reading Stason.org it should be formatted and addressed like a Type 2 hard disk.
    The disk was already a bit of a mystery as I had stored it for years with no lid screws and just a piece of tape holding the lid on but the LLF utility (HDFORM.exe, part of a set of factory restore disks, not some third party program) only found one bad spot on the disk. I ran the format several more times and it was consistently the one bad location the formatter flagged off. Cylinder 94, head 0. That's totally fine.
    The problems started when the disk was high-level formatted. Be it room temperature or cold start you always had one bad block it ran into and marked bad (whatever, it's a Miniscribe). From then on the rest of the disk seemed fine as long as the system was warmed up. Programs loaded. Data could be saved and Norton Disk Doctor would not run into any issues. It was only when you started the system cold (as in you left it for an afternoon) at this point you had problems. For the first five or ten minutes you would run into regions of the disk that were unreadable or very stubborn to read/write. Disk doctor would flag many areas bad but still recover the data within the affected sectors and relocate it. It screams a hard drive that has thermal track alignment problems and the system vendor even released a bulletin warning about this.



    Even if I follow the the recommendation and wait two hours before low-level formatting it's still the same: Everything will format fine and I can load and read data on the drive no problem but it gives nothing but grief when cold. Likewise low-level formatting is hard to do when cold because naturally the drive's gonna warm up from running.
    Last edited by NeXT; October 14th, 2020 at 08:31 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    ... but the LLF utility (HDFORM.exe, part of a set of factory restore disks, not some third party program) only found one bad spot on the disk. I ran the format several more times and it was consistently the one bad location the formatter flagged off. Cylinder 94, head 0. That's totally fine.
    The problems started when the disk was high-level formatted. Be it room temperature or cold start you always had one bad block it ran into and marked bad (whatever, it's a Miniscribe).
    Expected. The block/s that corresponds to [cylinder 94, head 0].

    Quote Originally Posted by NeXT View Post
    From then on the rest of the disk seemed fine as long as the system was warmed up. Programs loaded. Data could be saved and Norton Disk Doctor would not run into any issues. It was only when you started the system cold (as in you left it for an afternoon) at this point you had problems. For the first five or ten minutes you would run into regions of the disk that were unreadable or very stubborn to read/write. Disk doctor would flag many areas bad but still recover the data within the affected sectors and relocate it. It screams a hard drive that has thermal track alignment problems ...
    Does the following also explain the symptom: Read/write circuitry in drive is faulty, corrupting data. The degree/frequency of corruption is inversely related to temperature. No corruption at room temperature.

  3. #3
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    I'm not actually seeing corruption, or at least it's not corrupting data being written, otherwise I would expect the LLF and the format to fail spectacularly when it CRC's.
    I could verify this if I could fond my other dead miniscribe. All I'm seeing in the pile is a unit with a dead microcontroller.
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  4. #4

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    I own a Megafile 30 for the Atari ST, which has an MFM hard disk inside. The manual tells you to let the drive warm up for 10 minutes before using it, otherwise it may malfunctioning. I guess that wasn't unusual with these drives.

  5. #5

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    The stepper may be gummed up and not performing a full step, especially if many tracks are stepped at once (which is why formats seem to have more success than random work). I've been running into this on floppy disk drives lately, as well as the odd Miniscribe, and one RD51.

  6. #6
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    What kind of system is this in? It might be worth just trying to power the drive using a separate power supply to rule out any power related issues.

    Also, perhaps try some different cables. Because (&%^@$@$^# cables. :P

  7. #7
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    It's an Apricot Xen. For the most part it has somethign resembling ventilation and it changes the operating temperature if the lid is on or off enough that I'm just keeping it on.

    So for the last week I had the drive on its side being oiled and using the J13 trick to force it into exercise mode. It didn't run into any issues there on the nondestructive tests so I went back and spent a Sunday repeatedly LLF'ing the drive at different temperatures to force out any borderline tracks and came up with another five more to add to the defect table. Even after all that the drive is pretty solidly reliable warm but if I power it off and go to turn it on the next morning, same thing. You gotta give it 15 to 30 minutes to warm up before the read errors go away entirely and Disk Doctor stops finding bad sectors (said bad sectors will disappear once the disk is warm, but their locations do not change)
    So I'm just going to put this one down as an old drive doing old drive things. It's not unreliable. It just gives me a reason to more slowly drink my coffee in the morning.
    [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
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