Since, this happened so quickly, it may just be a bad HD, use the warranty. You're lucky to have a 2nd HD to replace it with, so go ahead and do so. I would clean install the OS and pgms. etc., once done, check with the WD diags, etc.. If all OK, then load your data back from back-up, etc., if you like. I'm wary of your trojan or malware issues, they may return if your back-up included those as well, and you didn't know. That's why I suggested testing the HDs before reloading the data back as safety test. If the problems come back, then you have infected sources and/or the HD acts flaky again on 2nd new HD, you may have your cause. FYI- Having 2 HDs installed since you mentioned a 30gb'er may also harbor malware, so don't take it for granted. Malware will infect everything it can. On another note, sometime dual mounted HDs can cause a heat spot between them and become stressed overtime, so look into better cooling and this becomes important for higher GB drives as data is cramped in and become corrupt or soft errors.
Two weeks ago I had to put a new HD in my Dell Dimension 8300. The WD Caviar 160 GB drives were on sale, and I bought 2 of them (can't pass up a bargain!). Although the computer is 4 years old, I had recently upgraded the BIOS to version A07, so installing and formatting the HD gave no problems as far as drive size. I only installed one.
Shortly after the installation, I got an infection of a trojan which defied cleaning. Eventually I was able to remove the thing manually. I mention this because I'm not sure if that trojan exacerbated the problems I'm having now. I had gotten BSOD with BAD POOL CALLER and IRQ NOT LESS OR EQUAL before I got it cleaned. (I tried Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware, Spy bot Search and Destroy, Rogue Remover Free and Ad-aware SE. None of them found/cleaned it.)
After removing the infection, I installed Windows XP SP2. I began to have problems with the computer freezing. The computer began to have problems recognizing the boot drive. However I checked the drive with SeaTools (was in a pinch) and it found no problems. Then I also installed SP3 , thinking that might fix some of the issues. It did not.
Ran chkdsk and it replaced 3 spots with bad clusters. Since that time I've had no issues whatsoever.
Being yet wary of the drive, I ran the WD diagnostic on it as well as the Disk Management in Windows. Disk Management says the drive is "healthy". However, in WD Diagnostics, it failed the "short test" and the "extended test" found bad sectors and repairs them. I have the log of that if it's helpful.
This machine is used for work as well as keeping personal and business finances. I run several civil engineering modeling programs on it such as HEC-RAS and DAMS-2. I also run AutoCAD Lt which is a real pain in the **** to reinstall. It takes about 6 hours to do a total reinstall of all of the software.
I *do* have backup,so that's not an issue. I have two Seagate 250 GB portable drives. I keep one connected to the home office computer, and one connected to my offsite office computer. I use Syncback to back up data directories each night. Once a month I swap these drives out. I also back up to CD about twice a year.
Dell Dimension 8300, socket 478 motherboard, 875P chipset, 3 GHz P4
NVidia GeForce FX5200 (latest driver)
no-name DVD R/W (compusa)
Win XP Pro SP3 (version 5.1.2600)
WD Caviar SE 160 GB EIDE hard drive
There was a second hard drive in the machine, another WD Caviar 30 GB. I took it out because it showed bad on one partition after this saga began. It was manufactured in 2001 so I shrugged about that.
Is it just me, or is it odd that 3 drives have gone/are going out in the same two week period on this machine? BTW the Seagate which crashed (beginning of this novella) is still under warranty.
Here's my quandary: should I go ahead and put the second HD into service, or hang in there with this one until it goes out? Or could there be some other problem causing the HD to act up?
Thanks in advance, and I'm sorry this post was so long. I hope I haven't left anything out.