Ok, ok, ok. I guess I might owe old Bill and apology here. Code some more last night and seems that I finally hit the bad sectors on the drive. Data read error's all over the place.
Guess the drive did in fact die.
But here is my problem. The old Scandisk utility used to scan the drive and produce somewhat helpful diagnostic information. The Windows XP Disk Management piece of poo does not. In fact when you have a problem is when Windows XP really shows some major oversights. Because they attempted to make the interface simpler, they really screwed those who actually understand what the heck is going on and how to fix it.
It won't scan the surface of the drive.
It won't fix bad sectors (it does, but requires a reboot because of dismounting the drive)
It won't fix bad clusters (or file segments)
It won't format a range of sectors.
It won't attempt to move the corrupted data from one sector (segment) to another.
These seem like glaring oversights. If I had known the drive did crash then I wouldn't have continued to use it. Why didn't format report that it could not format the whole drive?
Why does it still show 73 GB avail when format only formatted about 4GB?
It basically said that D: was not formatted when I tried to read my project file. Weird error.
It seems that format only formatted the segments/sectors that were ok and left the others unformatted. Very strange.