SUMMARY: hard disk not responding

From: Upkar Singh Kohli (
Date: Fri Jan 03 1992 - 18:24:32 CST

I am sorry for this late summary. First I was waiting for the fix,
then the new year! Many thanks to all the respondents quoted below.

My original query:

This might be a common problem. Power at our office was
brought down due to A/C upgrade, and when it came up, one
of our machines (sparc station 1+) had problems with one
of the two internal drives- a Micropolis 1558. I tried
booting without mounting any file system from this disk,
and then "format." But format got hung up after the
message "Searching for disks..."

The shutdown before power down was done gracefully using
"shutdown -h". Is this a common problem? Is the scsi controller
for this particular disk known to be unreliable? I am
surprised why this problem should occur when nothing else
was abnormal...

Now I have this system up without the file system "home"
used by several users! Please respond if you have input.

Upkar Kohli

All the responses were considered and suggestions used to see if
they helped. Although, none of the suggestions worked in my paticular
case, they do seem logical and might work in some cases.

First, this is what we did to fix our problem.

The Micropolis 1558 was sent to

      Pacific Electronic Engineering, Inc.
      42708 Lawrence Place
      Fremont, CA 94538
      (415) 770-0990
      (415) 770-1721 FAX

who do lots of drives including hitachi, Fujitsu, Micropolis, and some
DEC and IBM disks. Our cost was $450, for a full repair. It took about
two weeks, including Thanksgiving, and UPS handling time. They said
they had to replace the "device electronics board" and could not
access the data because of a corrupted format. I am wondering if the
data could have been retrieved by any other company.

The following were responses were received from the net:

Open the SPARCstation, remove the power and SCSI ribbon
cable going to the stuck drive from the mother board,
unsocket the drive (plastic carrier slides toward the
mother board and up). GENTLY shake the drive a bit.
Replace, recable, and power up.
Common problem with these drives. They get stuck after
being powered down.

we see problems now and then with our machines whenever we power
them down and back up again. Everything ranging from something that a
subsequent reboot fixes, something that a power cycling fixes, to permanent
device damage caused by simply powering down and back up (though that's
much less often).

Right now, it does sound like either your disk's controller is in a funny
state, or outright frotzed. Did you try cycling the power for the disk off
and back on again?

My understanding is that any 104MB disk can suffer, and there are two
possible problems. One is that the drive does not actually spin up, the
other is that the heads stick in the parked position.

WE have had the exact same reaction on a SS1, twice now -- I'm waiting
for the call back from service. The problem may well be "stiction" --
The torque required to spin up the disk is too great for the friction,
and the disk won't spin. If you are not on contract, take the disk out,
and bang it sharply into the corner of a desk.


It could be that your hard drive is dead. Powering on will often
push a troubled piece of hardware over the edge. I see
it happen with disks and monitors frequently.


Yes this is a common problem, whenever you power off a 104mb Sun
hard disk there is a very likely chance the disk will not come back
on line. One item which may (it has worked about 50% of thge time
for me) work is to unplug and reseat all of the disks cables
(scsi and power) and try powering up again. Try speaking directly
to your sun rep. I think they might be aware of this problem.

check the SCSI termination power fuse. (It's one of the two micro fuses.)
It looks like a small glass cylinder with two prongs sticking out of it.

Did you try reseating the SCSI cables? Is the disk spinning up?
What does prob-scsi (from the new monitor prompt) report?

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