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Xps16 Hard Drive Failure And Dell Design Defect : Excess Heat And Vulnerable Hd Destroy Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Dell XPS and Studio XPS' started by Excelsior, Oct 29, 2009.

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  1. Excelsior

    Excelsior Notebook Enthusiast

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    I have a five month old Studio XPS16 that was loaded at the time of purchase, including the 500GB 7200 RPM hard drive. Well, without warning, it failed yesterday taking a substantial amount of my work with it! I spoke to experts at a leading data recovery service. Seems likely the data is NOT recoverable. Here's what we surmised transpired: Often times, closing the lid of the laptop would not put it to sleep. Rather it stayed on, generating substantial heat. The screen would be radiating on top of the hard drive. The hard drive sits below the left palm rest and is mounted from the bottom of the machine. The only thing between the hard drive and the outside world is a 0.04" perforated aluminum under tray. With a 1.2 pound, 9 cell battery, which hangs off the back, the laptop weighs approximately 6.8 pounds. If one lifts the laptop with the screen open, e.g., to move to another section of a table, etc. by holding the laptop by the palm rests with four fingers beneath the palmrest (and on the panel below the hard drive, it is possible for that panel to flex and for pressure to be transferred directly to the hard drive. The relatively delicate hard drive, spinning at 7200 rpms or roughly 150 miles per hour(!) doesn't like heat and doesn't like pressure. Both together are a recipe for disaster! Heat makes metal expand. Pressure squeezes parts together. This is critical given the fact that the writing head hovers about the platter with a gap measured in tens of nanometers (or 394000'ths (+/- 1/394000) of an inch)! The heat expansion and pressure can cause the 7200 RPM platter to "crash" into the writing head. This scores a part of the surface, but worse, creates dusty debris. This debris will then ultimately destroy the drive! I learned all this the hard way! Has anyone else yet had a HD fail on this forum?

    We put a thin film of red dye on the HD and then put the lid on. Then proceeded to hold the laptop. Removed the lid and found the red dye on the lid, indicating the definite contact. Pics attached.
     
  2. nobb

    nobb Notebook Consultant

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    The Studio XPS series has a magnesium frame and the hard drive area feels pretty solid to me. Have you actually taken any temperature readings to see if the drive actually gets that hot? Ive left my Studio XPS 13 with the lid closed running overnight many times and the hard drive never gets over 40C. I dont really see any design defect in this laptop and Im not entirely convinced in your claim. Hard drives can fail randomly at any time, regardless of what system it's in.

    With the old Inspiron 6400 series I had however, there was definitely a flaw in that they placed the hard drive right next to the video card, so the drive would regularly get up to 60C or hotter.
     
  3. dratwister

    dratwister Notebook Enthusiast

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    now that's a lot of scientific words and calculations @-)...
    For default, closing lid won't make SXPS to sleep mode. You have to change its power plan to make SXPS sleep.
    Still waiting for your attached pics.

    P.S: you'd loaded your SXPS at the time of purchase?? 5 months??
     
  4. nomoredell

    nomoredell Notebook Deity

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    nice story bro
     
  5. chewyeong90

    chewyeong90 Notebook Evangelist

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    Once upon a time, your XPS16 hdd failed. Story ends.
     
  6. Excelsior

    Excelsior Notebook Enthusiast

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    Have you looked under the HD on the bottom of the laptop? 0.40" is anything but thick. Magnesium is lighter than aluminum but it is not as strong as aluminum. Moreover, much of the XPS is plastic. I've not put a temp reader on it but it felt higher than 40 c or 104 F.
     
  7. Excelsior

    Excelsior Notebook Enthusiast

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    Yes, it is set to go to sleep when lid closes. 70% of the time it does so. A good number of times it fails to do so and the laptop gets very hot.

    Pics too large and wouldn't upload. Will resize and then re-upload.

    Yes, when purchased, every optional upgrade except BlueRay.
     
  8. Excelsior

    Excelsior Notebook Enthusiast

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    That is nonsense to me. If it's a few years old ok. But 5 months and a premium system? That's horse poop! GM, Ford and Chrysler only wish only could dream of having such customers. Major systems shouldn't just fail. Would we accept such failures if they occurred mid-flight on airplanes? 5 month old HD shouldn't just fail.
     
  9. PlasmaBomb

    PlasmaBomb Notebook Consultant

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    Your math regarding the HDD is wrong.

    Pics?

    Also if a HDD is going to fail it is likely to happen within the first year, after that you should get 3-5 years more before its age starts to tell and the risk of failing increases.
     
  10. ViperGTS

    ViperGTS Notebook Evangelist

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    Nice story and quite a stretch of imagination.
     
  11. Excelsior

    Excelsior Notebook Enthusiast

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    Attached are the pics.

    I understand the general proposition that if it will fail it will be more likely the first year then later in its life.

    The point here is to diagnose what may cause a premature failure of the disc.

    Again, I spoke to leading data recovery firm and they confirm these two factors could definitely cause a failure, that is, above and beyond the "normal" failure rate.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Excelsior

    Excelsior Notebook Enthusiast

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    Which part is a stretch of imagination?
    1. That Hard Drives don't like heat?
    2. That the rear lid panel is just 0.40" thick aluminum?
    3. That that 0.04" thick aluminum panel is all that is between the HD and the outside world?
    4. That the lid flexes such that holding the laptop can cause the the lid to make contact and press upon the hard drive itself as shown in the photos?
    5. That windows effort to be Mac like with quick lid on and off doesn't always work and that a laptop that is on with its screen illuminated while closed will generate substantial heat?
    6. That heat causes metal to expand, including metal parts in a hard drive?
    7. That hard drive that expands from heat, even slightly, is more vulnerable to compression forces?
    8. Or is it my imagination that the hard drive failed?
     
  13. jmorv

    jmorv Notebook Geek

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    If it's heat we're talking, check out the Southbridge chip sitting there getting hot as the sun with NO cooling. THAT could contribute to heat for the HD. That is the only design flaw I could see that Dell needs to overcome in terms of keeping this beauty cooler. As far as pressure goes, if you are squeezing the laptop to death that it would bend the bottom metal cover and cause it to touch the hard drive, then you have a VERY firm grip. maybe if you bought some foam weather stripping and stuck it to the bottom metal cover on the inside, you could provide some cushion against the HD but then heat would be a further issue. Wish I had more productive advice, but truth be told, if pressure or physical stability was that big of an issue, Dell wouldn't have left the HD board exposed like that. I know in the HP Pavillion laptops, they have the HD position reversed so the hard metal cover of the HD is facing the bottom.
     
  14. Mechanized Menace

    Mechanized Menace Lost in the MYST

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    I'm so happy I have a SSD I never have to worry about problems like this a(sorry not trying to rub it in) seriously tho, maybe you should get one... JMO heat isn't a problem, silent, and complete metal casing...oh and speed is insane... sucks about your drive tho i dont think the pressure portion of your theory is accurate unless of course your Lou Ferrigno
     
  15. Ron Williams

    Ron Williams Newbie

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    I signed up just to comment on this thread. I purchased my studio XPS in November 2009 after my nearly 4 year old laptop died from hours of daily use (I'm a web developer).

    Today, my laptop turned on twice and said there may be hard drive integrity errors, but instead of actually proceeding to test, windows just booted as usual (or did the test very quickly). Considering the computer (therefor drive also) was new, I figured nothing was awry. Well, the computer crashed, attempted to restart, and bios (the dell screen) never completed loading. Called support, they had me remove and reset the ram among other things. They finally had me unplug the cable connected between the motherboard and hard drive. Bios started, got through its checks, then had an error upon attempting to load an OS. They're chalking it up to the hard drive being dead and have someone coming out on Monday or Tuesday (weird, considering I paid for next day support including weekends).

    I can honestly say this machine gets very hot to the point that it is uncomfortably hot typing at times, even sitting at an angle on a table due to the 9 cell battery. I've already had to have support replace the plastic piece around the fan/head sink since it melted about one month ago.

    As for the problem it has, this is ridiculous and hopefully Monday they will have some recommendation on getting files off since the drive isn't even recognized.
     
  16. m715

    m715 Notebook Consultant

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    Well what temps are to hot for a HD:confused:
    What is a good range to shoot for on a laptop?

    On my 1645 if I play wow my HD is 48-53C, while "trying" to play other games i have seen the HD hit 60C...which seems to hot:eek:
     
  17. bsknudsen

    bsknudsen Notebook Enthusiast

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    Ehm, maybe im just not getting what you are saying. But if the entire chassis of the laptop bends, therefore adding presure to specific areas inside the laptop, maybe you are holding/lifting it wrong? Laptops are pretty heavy and you should never lift them up by the corner using a single hand. Two hands in the middle - always. Im frankly surprised that a hdd would suffer from these pressures though, they are pretty rigid themselves.

    Second, im very surprised to hear that your screen doesn't turn off when you close the lid? Im not yet an owner of a XPS16, but i use a M1530 pretty often, and it surely does turn off the screen, when the lid is closed. If its a problem, just adjust it to put the computer to sleep when you close the lid.
     
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