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Old 02-08-2013, 12:35 PM   #1
AstroManLuca
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Default SATA ports on mobo not always working - best fix?

I've had an intermittent issue for a long time but it happens infrequently enough that I've worked around it. Every once in a while, one of my hard drives will disappear from Windows and even the BIOS. I get a blue screen if it happens while I'm using the PC, but usually it happens during boot, which prevents the PC from booting if the boot drive disappears.

When it first happened I thought it was a different hard drive that is no longer connected, but I have since bought an SSD and it still happens. I think it's my SATA ports. If I shut down and connect the cables to different ports, the problem sometimes goes away, at least temporarily.

Last night, my computer bluescreened and upon restarting, the storage drive was no longer there. When I switched the cables, only the storage drive showed up and the boot drive had disappeared. So it seems clear that the problem is specific to the SATA ports and not the hard drives. The weird thing is I haven't been able to figure out if there are any SATA ports that are always good. No matter how many times I switch things around, even if I'm good for a while, the problem returns.

My hardware is this:

Biostar TA790GX motherboard (has 6xSATA II ports)
Samsung 830 SSD 128 GB
Western Digital Black 640 GB
Phenom II X3, 6 GB of DDR2, standard SATA DVD burner, if that's relevant

I feel like I've basically figured out the problem and now I want to fix it. I think a new motherboard would fix it. Otherwise I could get a SATA card. So my real question is, what is the better course of action? SATA cards are cheap but most seem to get mixed reviews, with reviewers saying that they aren't compatible with some chipsets. A new motherboard would almost certainly fix the problem, but it's a little more expensive, especially if I get an AM3 one and have to buy new RAM as well.

What should I do? Go to buy/sell and see if anyone has an AM2+ or AM3 mobo for sale? Or get a SATA card? Thanks!
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:16 PM   #2
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The MB IS the computer. It is the place where you begin your purchase. If you think about it, ALL things plug into it.

Operation using external cards (even if successful) will turn out to have its issues. It will slow down boot as the card will register during POST. It also possible that there will be limitations concerning ability to back up the HDDs depending on which software is used.

This whole situation sounds like it is the result of someone who has tried a "build it yourself".
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:06 PM   #3
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That was extremely helpful. I'm glad to know that I caused the problem by not being smart or experienced enough, rather than it being a hardware problem.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:37 PM   #4
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I tried searching for similar problems with that board (ie: SATA controller malfunction/stopping)... doesn't seem like an issue with the board.

Only similar problem I've had (not with that board/setup) is one of my HDDs doesn't like one type/set of SATA cables I have... it will work for days, or even months, then just stop... jiggle the connection, it'll work again for days - months till the wrong vibration/bump happened again.

That's a possibility, but unlikely since in my case it was the HDD connection, yours would have to be all 2/4/6/8 SATA connections on the motherboard, or one (or two) really bad cables.

No correlation between which drive stopped and which cable it was using?
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectronic View Post
I tried searching for similar problems with that board (ie: SATA controller malfunction/stopping)... doesn't seem like an issue with the board.

Only similar problem I've had (not with that board/setup) is one of my HDDs doesn't like one type/set of SATA cables I have... it will work for days, or even months, then just stop... jiggle the connection, it'll work again for days - months till the wrong vibration/bump happened again.

That's a possibility, but unlikely since in my case it was the HDD connection, yours would have to be all 2/4/6/8 SATA connections on the motherboard, or one (or two) really bad cables.

No correlation between which drive stopped and which cable it was using?
I think that's something I'll have to investigate more closely going forward. I've been trying to pay attention to which SATA ports seem to fail more often but it's hard to keep track when I can go months between problems. There's one that seems to maybe be worse but I don't know for sure. I'll have to start writing it down in detail.

Not sure on the cables either. Another thing I will have to try. It seems unlikely that all my SATA ports are having problems, and maybe cables are more to blame.

Also, because I use my DVD drive so little, I probably wouldn't notice even if it did disappear.

Yeah I think this just comes down to a little more investigation to figure out precisely where the problem lies.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:14 PM   #6
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Surprised no-one asked about the Blue-Screen code? It could be flaky RAM or a number of things.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Surprised no-one asked about the Blue-Screen code? It could be flaky RAM or a number of things.
Agree with this.but is it just blue.or BSOD
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:56 PM   #8
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Also, are you running the most recent BIOS and have you tried updating to the most recent AMD chipset drivers?

Last edited by Steltek; 02-08-2013 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:37 PM   #9
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Should have mentioned this. One time after the problem occurred I did a memtest and found no issues. And I upgraded to the latest bios a few weeks ago but the problem has happened since then.
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:57 PM   #10
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A failing power supply could also cause these types of problems. You might consider swapping it out if you have a spare available.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:58 AM   #11
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My BIOS is able to display the PSU voltage levels and so may yours, so check there once in a while (eg, after the machine has been running extensively) to see if the voltages are within spec. (If you catch any close to the limit then replace PSU as precationary measure.)

Go to Fry's Electronics and purchase a replacement PSU. You have 14 days in which to return it if it is demonstrated to not be the problem source.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:43 AM   #12
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Didn't ask about BSOD because the reason was obvious. He also answered the second obvious question by saying it happens during boot, presumably with a "boot drive not found" type error, which wouldn't be RAM or CPU, possibly PCH/RAID death.

PSU could be the reason, boot-up is fairly stressful power-wise... if you have your power settings to turn off HDDs after X time, then when your HDD spins up from sleep it might be enough to kick it, or the most power-sensitive device (this might happen sometimes without noticing, other times its an HDD)
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