Some Like It Reliable

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My PC has had an intermittent problem for about the past 4 months. And when I say “intermittent,” I mean it. It’s only happened 4 times in the past couple of months. But when it happens, my mouse pointer freezes, my keyboard stops functioning, my hard drives’ activity lights come on and stay on, and the only thing I can do is physically power-down my PC.

When I power it back on, Linux “heals itself” from the inappropriate “shut down” and my PC works fine again for a few weeks, until it happens all over again.

By the way my PC was acting, I could tell that the problem wasn’t Linux’s fault — it had to be some sort of hardware problem.

At first I thought the problem was my 300 GB backup drive. So I disconnected it. A few weeks later, the problem returned.

Then I thought that maybe my EIDE cable was bad, so I replaced it. A few weeks later, the problem returned.

So I thought that maybe it was my a problem with one or more of my removable drive bays. So I took my hard drives out of the removable bays, connected them directly to the EIDE cable, and just laid them inside my PC. That didn’t help, either.

Then I thought that maybe one of the hard drives’ power cables might be bad, so, with Linux running, I reached into my PC to reseat the drives’ power cables. But as soon as I touched either drive’s power connector, one or both drives started clattering very, very quickly.

And my PC locked up again.

Eureka!

So I rebooted my PC, went into the “hard drive autodetect” section of its BIOS and started experimenting with my hard drives’ power cables. From my troubleshooting, it looked like both connectors were bad, intermittently losing their connections whenever I touched them.

The two bad hard drive power connectors split off of one set of wires that come from the power supply. They’re made specifically to use on stacked devices, because you can only separate them by a few inches.

I removed both of those power connectors from my hard drives and connected my only two other, independent power connectors to them.

And I jiggled those independent connectors like crazy. No problems with either of my hard drives.

Then I restarted my PC, logged into Linux and repeated my jiggling tests. No problems at all.

So I rebooted my PC into its BIOS and re-installed the original twin power connectors. And the problem instantly came back.

Needless to say, I reconnected the two “good” power connectors — the only two I had left.

For the past several days, my two hard drives have been stacked loosely inside my PC’s case, separated by a couple of foam rubber rings to keep them from vibrating against each other or against the drive bay metal shelf that they’re resting on.

With no problems at all.

A couple of days ago, I ordered a new power supply from NewEgg.com. It’s scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

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