You can hook up a hdd to a working pc and run most manufacturers diagnostics from live cd's.
This is for Seagates
This is for WD's and Hitachis
here are some alternatives
I have used the Sea Tools and the WD and a Samsung tool, they all work well and are fairly easy to use.
Capt Crow's suggestion of a new coms battery is a good idea as you are using old kit so the battery may well be on its way out. At least it is a cheap fix and eliminates that as a cause of problems.
Edited by abarbarian, 10 July 2014 - 11:28 AM.