9 Jan 2008

Musical Maxtor

Well it's been a typical Christmas and New Year. Phone line down (rainwater in cable splice), one bereavement, one separation, and four PCs worked on at friends and family rate (ie, £nil and intolerable working conditions).

One of the PCs had been reported to me as 'playing a ringtone when you turn it on'. This wasn't 'Für Elise' (which some bioses play on low voltage or failed CPU fan). It was a nine-note quick beep pattern, consisting of a rising tritone repeated three times.

On opening the case, it became apparent that the beeping was coming from the disk drive (*boggle!*), a notorious Maxtor 6Y120L0 Diamondmax 9. Uhh?! A beeping disk drive! And it was being detected, but it wasn't spinning up. So, it deserved Punishment. Power was applied and I gave it a good clonk, and Lo! It was Healed!

The next step was to get a replacement. The household I was visiting is a desolate unwired backwater in the wasteland of South Wales, so the only recourse was to pick a local PC emporium from the yellow pages. There was but one, which turned out to be a slightly seedy repair biz above a betting shop, but they did have a Hitachi 160Gb Deathstar. Took it back, booted Knoppix from CD and dd'ed the whole of the old disk to the new. Worked perfectly (fsvo, this being Win XP on NTFS).

Back home, I researched the musical Maxtor phenomenon. There's nothing on the official site about beep codes, and in particular the so-called troubleshooter admits no possibility of beeps or failure to spin up. No. Can't possibly happen. What a bunch of useless lying corporatist bastards. There are even some old forum posts out there citing an official denial that Maxtor drives ever beep, and pig headed dismissiveness at the risibly misnamed Experts Exchange (motto: pay dollars, read bollocks!) Nevertheless, there are plenty of other folk reporting exactly the same experience - that a triple-tritone beep from a Maxtor Diamondmax drive means spin-up failure. It's not a fantasy, it's real.