Unfortunately, I can't be sure. It has been suggested that the behavior I've been experiencing could be due to some program screwing up the stack. Does this idea click with someone? (Read on)
Anyway I would really appreciate some suggestions re corrective actions I can try. I can always format and start from scratch but that has to be a last resort--it takes forever.
Here's the situation at present. There's a lot of detail; please bear with me.
95% of the time my computer works OK. I'm running XP-SP2 and using Firefox.
The problem started whe Ghost 2003 would not clone my C drive (master) to my G drive (slave.) Both were on primary controller. Msg was "11030 Invalid Destination drive." That's an MS Error but their brief definition of it is pure Greek.
My secondary controller had my CDROM and CD-RW drives. No problems ever.
I notice that boot appears slower than it used 2 months or so ago. There's a period of 10-15" where the monitor is black (or dark gray) and no HD activity. Also every time I shut down, I get told Explorer.exe is not responding...however, if I click "End Now" shutdown continues normally. But this never used to happen on shutdown.
I tried to do a clone using a program called Casper XP. It froze on the first screen. C drive was master; G was slave. Both were on the primary controller.
OK. With my C drive on the primary as master and my other HD also as master on the secondary controller (no CDROM or CD-RW), I ran Casper XP. It cloned without a murmur.
With only my C drive on the primary and no other drives in the system, I tried to run Windows Disk Defrag. It took 10-15" to bring up the main screen where you click 'analyze'. It refused to analyze. I got the message "Not Responding" and if my memory serves me well, the scroll bar was balky. I finally managed to get it to close--I forget how. Now comes the kickerI put the same HD on the secondary controller as master and Disk Defrag ran without a murmur.
Then I used my other drive on the primary controller (all alone) and again Disk Defrag refused to run. Same Not Responding messages. But on the secondary controller, Disk Defrag ran like a dream.
I asked myself if the ulrtra cable I was using on the primary be at fault. Nope! I replaced it with a different ultra dma cable and no behavior of anything changed from what I've described. I tried that cable with both drives too. So I conclude that both hard drives are OK and that both cables are OK.
My mobo was new in April 04. So it is just under 2 years old. The Repair Shop where I go tells me it may well not be made any more, being replaced by newer models and that if I replace it, I am very likely to have reformat and start again from scratch. (I plan to ask themanufacturer about this.) And that it could cost up to $200. An engineer who helped me with this problem (lucky me!) suggested I could try a RAID controller in a PCI slot, instructing it just to take over for the onboard controller. Cheaper than a new mobo. It was a suggestion only as he was the one who felt the stack could be my problem. He admitted that a chip or transistor on the mobo controller could be at fault though but felt that was pretty unlikely.
I am wondering what about the possibility of putting my CDROM and CD-RW on the primary controller and the C drive (the HD) on the secondary. It just might work, ya know? What do you think of this idea...would it slow down normal computer operation significantly...is the secondary less robust than the primary? It uses an older dma cable (non-ultra dma...just 40 wires...not 80). I should note here that running Disk Defrag on the secondary and running Casper with the destination drive on the secondary showed no apparent slowdown of either program.. Thanks!