Tales of a dying SSD

For the past few months, my main desktop computer was plagued by an issue that I am happy to say, has just been resolved.

it seems that after 4 years of service, my Corsair Performance Pro SSD has decided to die on me. Data has been irrecoverable when I tried to access it, although it can still be seen in the UEFI.

It is unfortunate, as  I purchased this model of SSD after careful research hoping that it would be a reliable model. Back then, the Sandforce SF-2281 had been dying in alarming numbers and I wanted something that was reliable. Remember SSDs then cost several times that they did today, so I felt only a smaller SSD was worth it. I specifically bought this model for the Marvell 88S-9174 BKK2 controller, along with the Toshiba Toggle NAND, and the large 512 MB of DRAM.

 

The SSD gave me the following problems:

  • I could not boot with my network cable installed in. I always had to unplug the cable when powering the computer on, then after logging on, replug in the cable. I had thought  that it was a problem with the Atheros E2205 controller (they are known to be problem plagued), but even with another NiC, the problem persisted.
  • Shutting down required a hard power down because the SSD would prevent my computer from shutting down properly.
  • My firewall, Comodo Internet Security would not start and reinstalling the firewall did not help.
  • Could not access any other operating system – boot drives would literally just shut down when I tried to put in a Linux disk.

Next time, I will remember that these are signs of a dying SSD and not other parts. Life is a constant learning lesson for me. It is odd because the SSD passed SMART and appeared healthy on the Crystal Disk. I did not do anything intensive on the SSD that would have caused failure.

 

Up until this point, I had been trying to pull my hair trying to fix this:

  1. Replaced the power supply with a new one. This was my first intuition, because power supplies are the most likely part of any computer to die. Previously, I had lost a system to an failing Corsair HX1000. To their credit, they have replaced the unit and compensated me for damage. I was about to get a Digital Multimeter (DMM) and test out of if I had 2 defective power supplies in a row.
  2. Ran HCI MemTest to try to see if my RAM was dying. HCI is good because it is far more stringent than the common RAM testing software, MemTest 86+.
  3. Various CPU tests to see if my CPU was dying. I thought this was the least probable as the CPU is usually the most reliable part.
  4. Changed the GPU to see if there were any issues there. The problems persisted despite my replacing the GPU with a slightly newer unit.
  5. Tried to boot into Linux (which as described earlier would not work), and I tried multiple distros, with both a DVD along with 2 USB 3.0 sticks.  I realized that if it were a Windows error, then there would be no problems in Linux.
  6. I spent quite a while with MSI tech support (kudos to their outstanding support) trying to fix this issue.
  7. Tried plugging in all of the drives into the Intel Z87 chipset on my motherboard (previously there had been a couple in the secondary controller by Asmedia.  I generally prefer native solutions because they tend to result in fewer problems. It is one of the reasons why I plan to get a Skylake E system when they are released.  The nature of what I do will likely require the additional features of a workstation-class chipset.
  8. Carefully checked the area on several occasions for loose screws and anything else that could have caused an electrical short.
  9. I cleared the CMOS on the motherboard with the jumper and updated to the latest Beta BIOS. I also swapped between the 2 BIOSes in my board and spent a lot of time playing around with settings, thinking that there may have been a setting on the BIOS that I may have missed.
  10. I had similar problems on a second motherboard.

 

I am out of warranty on my SSD, so it looks like I am out of luck. I am starting to think that long power supply and SSD warranties are indeed, quite valuable. On the note of Corsair products, although I have had a second one fail in a row (possibly a third, as I never had the time to check an old Dominate DDR2 set from several years ago because I needed a system right away), I will continue to recommend them. Corsair has had very good tech support and has always been acted with integrity when it comes to honoring warranty claims.

The important lessons are to always back up (I am lucky I did not lose anything of value) and that one should always use process of elimination. I had thought that it had been my motherboard that was dying and I am very happy to have been proven wrong. The MSI Z87 XPower that I have been using has proven to be an otherwise solid workhorse.

The key take away is that when you have computer problems (and we all do), always stay calm and try to eliminate them one by one. There is something you have overlooked.

Anyways, my issues are still not yet fixed, but it looks like a dying SSD played a pretty substantial role in causing them. My firewall starts and I no longer get system slowdowns. I’m still trying to determine the cause of the network cable giving me issues, but it is a minor inconvenience compared to the problems my SSD gave me.

Have you ever had computer problems? Post your stories or any computer problems that you would like to share.

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