Intel Rapid Storage Technology And Unexplainable Hard Drive Failures

Recently, I was working on fixing a family member's laptop that had inexplicably stopped resuming from standby or hibernation. All of the regular signs of a corrupt Windows installation were present, so I set about backing up their important data and reinstalling the operating system (Windows 10 x64 Home Edition in this case).

In some cases, Microsoft's latest versions of Windows will automatically detect the need for the the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (Intel RST) system software and will result in the software being installed with Windows Update. That's mistake number one.

Whatever you do, don't keep the version of the Intel RST software installed by Windows. Instead, visit Intel's download centre and grab the latest version of the software for your specific version and platform of Windows. It should go without saying that having the latest version of most software is key to having a smooth experience, but it's a little more important in this case.

With this specific computer the inability to resume after standby or hibernation still remained after a fresh copy of Windows and Intel RST were installed. The system would also BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) when booting, typically complaining that iaStor.sys had failed to load. Despite a complete scan for bad blocks on the hard drive with chkdsk, and a complete checklist of passed tests from the available SMART tools, the hard drive was still causing problems. No data loss was occurring, but booting and resuming continued to be a problem.

Lo and behold, swapping the drive fixed the problem. This surprised me! Until this day, no other hard drive in my possession had passed so many tests and yet still experienced failure.

With that information in hand I made the suggestion I always make with failed hard drives: it's time to replace the drive with a reputable SSD (solid state drive). In this case, a Samsung 850 Evo 250 GB SSD was ordered. The owners of this machine will most definitely enjoy the increase in speed this drive will provide.

The lesson learned here is to never trust a hard drive and always replace it with a spare drive as a test - even if it passes the regular tests.

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Post Author: Ryan Covert

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Software Development Manager, husband, father, car enthusiast, lover of all things caffeinated.

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