From: MZB on 25 Apr 2010 21:49
OK, I continue to have computer problems where it suddenly, without warning,
slows to a crawl. After doing some reading and trying different things, I
discovered that my IDE Controller (Primary IDE channel from Device Manager
Advanced Settings) was in PIO mode. It should be in DMA mode. Apparently,
this occurs after a bunch of disk errors, or it could be due to a bad
I did find a program that will revert things to DMA mode (until the next
time it slips, of course).
The next thing I should be doing is checking my hard drive. I ran Dell
Diagnostics and it passed every test. But it has been suggested that I check
via SMART. Here is where I am stumped. I d/l the software from HDTUNE but I
don't know how to check SMART (I don't even know what SMART is).
Suggestions on how I can "get smart."
From: Brian K on 25 Apr 2010 22:40
Mel, one of the best tests would be the HD Manufacturer's Diagnostic (DOS)
Did you uninstall your Primary IDE channel and reboot?
From: MZB on 26 Apr 2010 00:06
If I uninstall it and reboot, would it automatically reinstall?
Toshiba is the only company without its own diagnostics (that's the drive I
"Brian K" <remove_this(a)hotmail.com> wrote in message
> Mel, one of the best tests would be the HD Manufacturer's Diagnostic (DOS)
> Did you uninstall your Primary IDE channel and reboot?
From: Brian K on 26 Apr 2010 00:32
"MZB" <moo(a)noway.prudigy.net> wrote in message
> If I uninstall it and reboot, would it automatically reinstall?
Yes. That's the usual fix for a PIO issue. The channel automatically
reinstalls on the next boot. Hopefully in DMA mode.
Try SeaTools for DOS. They all work much the same.
Dropping back to PIO isn't necessarily a hardware issue.
From: William R. Walsh on 26 Apr 2010 12:25
> OK, I continue to have computer problems where it suddenly,
> without warning, slows to a crawl.
> I discovered that my IDE Controller was in PIO mode. It should
> be in DMA mode.
Yes, it should be. And you're absolutely right, Windows will give up
on DMA mode and switch back to PIO after X amount of errors.
I've had two Dell machines in the past two weeks decide to do this out
of the blue, with no apparent provocation. The sudden dropoff in
performance was the clue. Both systems have Samsung hard drives.
Neither one has had a relapse after deleting and reinstalling the
Intel IDE controller from Device Manager. The hard drives themselves
appear to be fine, and the cables look as good as new.
> I don't know how to check SMART (I don't even know what
> SMART is).
SMART is "Self Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology". (Whew!)
Basically, it's a standardized way that a hard drive can tell a user,
operating system or application program what its relative state of
health is. Various parameters pertaining to the different ways in
which a drive may fail are (in theory) monitored by the drive.
However, it's up to your operating system or computer BIOS to tell you
when one of these parameters has reached the point where it may be
considered that the drive has failed.
Some parameters are updated all the time (time spent powered on,
temperature, ECC usage) while others require the drive to be idle and
spinning for an offline scan to take place (offline correctable
sectors, pending sector count).
If nobody (BIOS, utility software or OS) steps up to the plate to
deliver the message, however, the drive can be screaming "back up your
data NOW!" and no one will hear it.
Of course, SMART isn't always useful. The allegation has been made
that SMART data was originally honest and that marketing had their way
with it, rendering it a lot less useful in the name of making the
drive look "better" as opposed to being honest about when things were
going wrong. I cannot swear to the veracity of that claim, but I can
say that all drives behave differently...some monitor things that
others don't, while others don't really show much change in SMART data
even when the drive has had a few problems. Seagate and Maxtor drives
seem to have the most honest and comprehensive SMART data.
> Suggestions on how I can "get smart."
The best tool I know of for quick and easy SMART access is SpeedFan
(http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php). It lets you see at a glance
what your hard drives are doing, and it provides a link to a website
that lets you compare the performance and statistics from your drive
to that of others. You can use it immediately, right within Windows
and without interrupting your other work.
You can also force the drive to run its short or extensive test
routines, which may result in useful updates of the SMART data.