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How to test new HDDs for faults within returns window?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Obinice, Feb 9, 2013.

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  1. Obinice

    Obinice Thread Starter

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    Good evening ladies and gentlemen! I have some Hard Drive related questions!

    I've got a home server with a couple of failing hard drives, and a need for expansion. To that end, I'll be investing in four 2TB Seagate Barracudas (ST2000DM001).

    Why that drive?
    I've had half a dozen multiple models of Barracudas for a number of years that have consistently operated with no issues (in fact I've never had a HDD fail on me in the 15 years I've been using PCs, my 4GB Maxtor is still going strong), but when I invested in four 750GB Samsung drives, two of them failed within a year. Could be coincidence, but to be on the safe side I'll stick with Seagate Barracuda from now on.​

    Anyway, this is a very significant monetary investment for me. I don't earn a lot and while I've wanted to fix my machine up for over a year now, I've not had the money (especially with the HDD price boom that's thankfully dying down now). I want to start using the server to record Live TV and CCTV, run Steam Big Picture, and continue to serve as growing file storage for my home, so the extra storage should give me plenty of breathing room for a long time to come.

    So, I need to give these four new drives a thorough vetting before I put them into active service, and before the returns window for them closes!

    I've never actually done any in depth HDD testing though. I don't know what (free) software/methods would be best to use, what I'm looking for when looking at SMART results and test results and so on, or what sorts of tests I should be running!

    I turn to you, great masters/mistresses of the digital universe, to guide me in my quest! :)
     
  2. Oddba11

    Oddba11

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    Jim
    The only testing I've ever done is with SeaTools. Just run the drive test.

    In any case, the drives are covered throughout their warranty period, not just the seller return window.
     
  3. Obinice

    Obinice Thread Starter

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    I'll grab their boot disk and give it a go, thanks!

    Indeed, my concern is less that I won't be able to get the drive replaced, and more that I could lose valuable data. I always have a mirror drive, but what if two of these drives, the master and the backup, were to fail in a similar fashion to the two Samsung drives I purchased in the past. That would suck!

    So I just want to make sure these drives are in excellent working order before I put them to real use :)
     
  4. ChumCaster

    ChumCaster Banned

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    When you say you have a "mirror" drive, you should be aware that, contrary to popular belief, most RAID arrays aren't very resistant to failure. If a single drive in the array fails, the chances of a second drive buying the farm are very much higher than what random chance suggests. Sounds like you've already experienced that with your Samsung drives. RAID is no substitute for a good backup plan. That's not just my opinion; Google has massive server farms and you might want to take a few minutes to read about some of their experiences.

    So, while you can test your new drives, there's no surety that they will be reliable in 10 weeks or even 10 minutes. Don't trust RAID, back up early and often to more than one external device.
     
  5. Obinice

    Obinice Thread Starter

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    My apologies, I just searched for the best word to describe my backup methods in my head, clearly it's already a taken term! I don't use RAID, I use software to perform regular backups from one drive to another (BackInTime in Linux, SyncBack in Windows). I love to compartmentalise :D

    That link looks like a thoroughly interesting read! I think I nosed over it a few years ago, I shall give it a damn good read.
     
  6. ChumCaster

    ChumCaster Banned

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    Messages:
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    No reason to apologize; we just miscommunicated. It isn't common for a primary drive and a backup to fail together, but it happens. I use a couple of external drives for backup, and swap them out for my regular backups. That's a bit of a pain, but catastrophic drive failure is much more common than manufacturers will admit. Belt and suspenders at all times.
     
  7. Simba7

    Simba7

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    Feb 7, 2013
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    I usually utilize a CD called System Rescue CD when I check my drives. It is a Gentoo-linux based distro that I utilize quite a bit for my Gentoo builds.

    I run smartctl (smartctl --all /dev/sda) first to see what the SMART status is before I follow onto the next step.
    After writing the info down (if any), I do a secure erase utilizing hdparm (hdparm --security-set-pass Eins /dev/sd? **THEN** hdparm --security-erase Eins /dev/sd?). DO NOT POWER OFF THE BOX, this will take a few hours.
    When that's done, I check smartctl again to see if there are any differences.

    What's nice about secure erase is it utilizes the drives own firmware to erase and check the drive.
     
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