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Ask Slashdot: Do You Test Your New Hard Drives? 348

Posted by timothy
from the just-bite-the-corner-a-little dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Any Slashdot thread about drive failure is loaded with good advice about EOL — but what about the beginning? Do you normally test your new purchases as thoroughly as you test old, suspect drives? Has your testing followed the proverbial 'bathtub' curve of a lot of early failures, but with those that survive the first month surviving for years? And have you had any return problems with new failed drives, because you re-partitioned it, or 'ran Linux,' or used stress-test apps?"
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Ask Slashdot: Do You Test Your New Hard Drives?

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  • smartmontools (Score:5, Informative)

    by WD (96061) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @01:35PM (#42375851)

    Set up the smartd.conf file to do the example short-test daily and long-test weekly, and email you when something is fishy. It's a trivial amount of effort, resulting in a significant amount of peace of mind. (In many cases, you'll have some amount of warning before your drive kicks the bucket and it's too late)

  • Re:SSDs (Score:4, Informative)

    by cpghost (719344) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @01:58PM (#42375977) Homepage

    Who cares about HDDs anymore these days?

    We do here at work. We need some modest 120+ TB of storage right now, and 30% of that content is highly dynamic (PostgreSQL databases). Anything but data center quality HDD would be silly, not to mention unreliable as hell and heavily expensive. SSDs are just for laptops or so, not for real data storage requirements.

  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @02:40PM (#42376199) Homepage

    Sounds more like your hard drive s.m.a.r.t. was useless. The tools can only report what the drive tells it, if smart isn't telling about relocated sectors, resets, or whatever other terrible malfunction then they are left in the dark.

  • Re:Heh (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:10PM (#42376393)
    And I bet you're living in the past. Computer hardware is cheap, easily replaceable commodity parts these days. Why the fuck would I bother running worthless burn in tests when it's so easy and/or cheap to replace faulty parts? I don't care about the drive, just my data, which is always backed up with the most important stuff doubly redundant.
  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:25PM (#42376465) Journal

    That's nice, an OS used by less than 2% of the entire planet has some tool that reports what SMART is telling it, no different that a billion freeware programs for Windows. Just FYI but I can think of about a dozen freeware programs that will do the same damned thing in Windows, INCLUDING the email, so its not exactly like you got anything to brag about Ms AC.

    Now I'm gonna spell out what the REAL problem is, which any guy who has spent time in the trenches will tell you and that is SMART SUCKS ASS and for several years has more about covering bad batches for the HDD OEMs than it has been for actually telling you something is going bad. I have had drives in the shop that sounded like an angle grinder bouncing on pavement where SMART said "Nope, nothing wrong here la la la"" while the thing just ground and sputtered, its the most fucking pointless diagnostic tool there is.

    What we NEED is a replacement for Spinrite, something that bypasses the lying SMART and just runs a pass of zeroes and ones on the drive and reports a simple pass/fail on the read/writes. Spinrite was fucking brilliant for this, it would give you a layout of the entire drive with red for sectors that failed to report the correct data back and blue for clean so it took just a second to glance at the readout to spot a drive that was buggy out of the box, but nobody has updated the tool in years so its useless now since it can't do SATA 6 or drives above 500Gb.

    So how about it FOSS devs, here is the requirements: Bypass SMART, does a single R/W cycle, reports results. That's ALL it has to do anjd so far nobody has stepped up to the plate. damned near every shop I knew including mine had bought a copy of Spinrite so there is good money to be made there if you are willing to put in the work, its a niche but its a niche with money, builders, repair shops and gamers would all love to hand you money for this tool, so get on it and report back when its done, okay?

  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by JMJimmy (2036122) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:30PM (#42376507)

    No, not SMART. I did a full range of tests with all suits on top of SMART (surface tests, etc)

    The only HDD tool I trust is the ancient one from GRC.

  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Burpmaster (598437) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @03:57PM (#42376653)
    What you want is just 'badblocks -w <device>'.
  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @04:26PM (#42376819)

    My usual routine when a drive starts to go back is to back its data up using dd

    ddrescue [gnu.org] is the tool for backing up a failing drive unless you really want to manually check every failed sector read then restart a new dd (skipping to the next sector).

  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Informative)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday December 23, 2012 @04:49PM (#42376939) Homepage Journal

    Not exactly useless... There's a preclear script that many unRAID users use to beat up their drives while monitoring SMART. It doesn't just look at SMART for a thumbs up or down but monitors the various parameters that SMART throws out. Users run this multiple times in a row and find bad drives fairly regularly. I will admit that I've not been running it but judging from the numbers of folks who have been finding it useful and from the fact that warranties seem to be getting ever shorter I may begin doing so. I use a decent number of the 3TB drives that are always going on sale and I'm starting to think I'm tempting fate by not testing them. I've gotten spoiled in that my unRAID box covers my ass in the even of a failure but I see too damn many reports of new drives going toes up to not be concerned. I have 3 drives sitting on the shelf waiting to be loaded and I may beat them up beforehand just to be sure they won't screw me when I least expect it...

  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @05:53PM (#42377309)

    No, not SMART. I did a full range of tests with all suits on top of SMART (surface tests, etc)

    The only HDD tool I trust is the ancient one from GRC.

    That is absolutely laughable. Spinrite is about as good at interfacing with a modern drive than an old 16bit dos program trying to sqeeze every ounce of performance out of a 64bit processor. It had it's purpose in its day. These days running it will more likely do more harm than good.

    Not to mention that if your drive is at the end of life running a program that is widely known to give it a most horrendous thrashing is probably not a good idea.

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