Potential hard drive problem, could anyone help?

#1 Posted by Intro (1205 posts) -

I've noticed I can hear my hard drive "running" after owning it for two years and not hearing it once. It's not terribly loud or making a clicking/grinding noises though, so I don't think it's about to die. When I play games, they now run at a low FPS regardless of how low I put the settings and the disk usage sits usually around 100% the entire time while playing. Sometimes it's at 90-100% while idling at the desktop. I've been installing a lot of drivers for my gpu back and forth lately to test different ones out with different games, other than that, I haven't done anything out of the ordinary.

There is nothing I see in the task manager that is using a lot of my hard drive or CPU either. Do I basically have to get a new hard drive, or is the hard drive even a problem? If so, is there a potential fix? Thanks in advance. If there's anything else I could add that would be helpful let me know. Someone told me to run a hardware diagnostic on my hard drive, which I need a DVD-R for I believe, so I'm about to go buy one. I don't have the greatest build, but I should be able to get more than 25-30 FPS in 2+ year old games on low settings, I have before. Now it's impossible to get anything over 30 FPS.

OS: Windows 8.1 Pro Preview Build 9431 64x

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640 3.0Ghz

RAM: 8.00GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 666MHz

MOBO: BIOSTAR Group A780L3B

GPU: 2048MB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 (EVGA)

HDD: 466GB Hitachi HDS721050CLA362 ATA Device (SATA)

#2 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

It's probably a good idea to get a new hard drive if you even suspect that yours is about to bite the dust. Other than that, your hard drive shouldn't affect your FPS unless the game is streaming data - and in that case, you should see a sporadic FPS instead of a consistently low one.

If your hard drive isn't knocking on death's door, you should check your virtual memory settings in Windows. Something might have gone haywire and Windows could be using your physical hard drive as RAM (although, with eight gigs of RAM, this shouldn't happen unless you or an errant program tell it to).

No matter the issue, it's worth it to replace your hard drive. Any change in behavior (even if you don't think it's the type of clicking/grinding noise that precedes failure) is a bad sign. You'll be much happier backing up a soon-to-be dead hard drive than you would be re-downloading and installing everything you have.

#3 Posted by believer258 (11561 posts) -

Back that sucker up and start looking into new HDD's.

#4 Posted by Intro (1205 posts) -

That's what I was thinking, not worth the risk of losing everything. Thanks guys.

#5 Posted by VACkillers (1059 posts) -

I think you're Harddrive is just fine as mine does that a lot as well, and I've owned it for years, it could be something making it just vibrate in your case louder but if you can afford it, and are worried about, buy a new one, use that as your main drive and just simply use the harddrive you have now as your back up 2ndary drive. Its always good to have 2 harddrives anyway, especially if you ever need to format the thing. Your system spec is perfectly fine and you should definitely be getting more then 30FPS in most games except the likes of crysis 3 or battlefield 4 or something but if you have a laptop, then you probably only have a 5200 RPM drive in there, which is slowing you down massively which you should replace anyway if thats the case but dont know if yours is a laptop or not.

What resolution are you running your games at, and which games? might be able to help with some performance tweaks also....

#6 Edited by Intro (1205 posts) -

1600x900 60Hz I have Crysis 3 and it was playable, obviously I left it on low settings most of the time, though.

#7 Edited by Toxeia (728 posts) -

@intro: Your hard drive should support SMART - a feature on storage devices that logs information concerning functionality and performance. To check, open a command prompt (Hold Windows Key, hit R) and type CMD. Use the command "wmic" and then on the next line type "diskdrive get status". It should come up and say "OK" for each of your drives.

To get detailed information you'll need a third party program, such as from http://crystalmark.info/download/index-e.html Get the Shiuzuku Edition (zip), unzip the files, and run DiskInfo.exe. It'll show you all the SMART information about your drives and sum it up (as in good or bad health).

Regardless, you should always have a backup of your data so take care of that if you have not already.

And with what DetectiveSpecial said, check your hard drive for "pagefile.sys." This is where Windows stores memory from your RAM when not in use. Make sure it's not gigantic (I'd guess it should be around 2 gigs?) or growing by leaps and bounds. To check what it should be around, right click on My Computer, go to properties, select Advanced System Settings, (on new window) select the Advanced tab, and under Performance click on Settings. On another new window, click on the Advanced tab and it will show you the approximate size of the pagefiles on respective drives under the title "Virtual memory." I've seen cases where it should be about 1 gigabyte but Windows was dumping everything into the pagefile.

#8 Edited by hidden81 (49 posts) -

You could check temperature as being a possible issue. I once had a problem with the temperature of my hdd after some vents got clogged, I'm not sure this would create a sound change it did affect how programs ran.

#9 Edited by Intro (1205 posts) -

Temperature seems fine, 34 C. Just did a hardware diagnostic, both short and long test and it passed both. The pagefile shows 8192MB.

I just played BF3 for a little and it worked fine (good FPS, no constant stuttering). I was doing some cable management and took apart a lot and ending up moving my hard drive to a different bay. I don't know why it seems to be working now, but I haven't heard it making noise yet either. Doesn't make sense as to why that would change anything, maybe I'm just getting lucky at the moment and it'll start doing it again. Once again thanks for the help guys, definitely gonna back up my hard drive though soon.

EDIT: Getting the noise again, games are running fine at least.

#10 Edited by Zelyre (1104 posts) -

Download a program called Speedfan. http://www.almico.com/speedfan449.exe (I think the installer has Yahoo toolbar or some crap, so don't get "Next" happy. Toggle that shit off.)

Do the drive SMART in-depth test. It'll give you a glimpse into the health of your drive.

However, if your hard drive is giving you a reason to think it's going bad, clone that stuff ASAP. Also, you'd probably be pretty happy if you switched over to a Western Digital Black.

Macrium Reflect is a really good -free- utility that'll let you clone drives, create images of your drives, and restore those images.

#11 Posted by Intro (1205 posts) -

@zelyre said:

Download a program called Speedfan. http://www.almico.com/speedfan449.exe (I think the installer has Yahoo toolbar or some crap, so don't get "Next" happy. Toggle that shit off.)

Do the drive SMART in-depth test. It'll give you a glimpse into the health of your drive.

However, if your hard drive is giving you a reason to think it's going bad, clone that stuff ASAP. Also, you'd probably be pretty happy if you switched over to a Western Digital Black.

Macrium Reflect is a really good -free- utility that'll let you clone drives, create images of your drives, and restore those images.

No errors. "The overall fitness for this drive is 97%. The overall performance for this drive is 97%." I think I'll buy a Western Digital 1TB soon.

#12 Edited by Devildoll (876 posts) -
@intro said:

When I play games, they now run at a low FPS regardless of how low I put the settings and the disk usage sits usually around 100% the entire time while playing. Sometimes it's at 90-100% while idling at the desktop.

start up the windows performance monitor and look in the disk tab, try to filter out what application is actually putting the load on the hard drive.

you can also run hdtune and check your disk speed and access speed
If you have a pretty steady declining curve, its all fine, but if it dips down alot in between, either something is hogging the drive, or it is on its way out.

If you are concerned enough to want to back the drive up, or if you have any kind of crucial data on it, don't run hdtune or any other benchmark on the drive until you have it backed up.

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