Any Hard Drive Can Fail..........

Discussion in 'hardware' started by TheKid7, May 14, 2013.

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  1. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    I just lost my another hard drive (READ FAILURE). It was my 500 GB Western Digital RE4 which I purchased new in August of 2011. That just goes to show you that "any" hard drive can fail. The Western Digital RE4 is called an Enterprise Grade Hard Drive. Enterprise Grade Hard Drives are "theoretically" supposed to last much longer than a traditional hard drive.

    At least the hard drive is still under Warranty.

    I am suspicious that the hard drive may have been failing for some time. The problem became clear after today's Microsoft Patch Tuesday. It "clearly" showed up when I tried several times to make a full Image of the Windows System Partition. I got repeated read failures from my Imaging Software.

    After doing the Patch Tuesday updates and prior to trying to make an Image of my Windows System Partition I got a problem several times (just after PC Restart) of a message from the Windows XP Security Center saying that the Firewall was not turned on. This problem would clear up by itself after a minute or so. I have seen this Firewall 'Not On' problem after some Patch Tuesday Windows Updates in the past, but I do not remember if it only occurred on the PC with today's hard drive failure.

    The hard drive S.M.A.R.T. did not show anything. So I confirmed the failure by booting into Western Digital's Hard Drive diagnostics and performing a quick test (Read Failure). I followed up with a Linux based hard drive diagnostics using Parted Magic. The same results (Read Failure).

    In desperation, I just ordered a Seagate Constellation 500 GB SATA6 hard drive. There I am "hung-up" on having an Enterprise Grade SATA Hard Drive.

    I recently had a Samsung 2 TB 5400 RPM SATA hard drive Fail (Read Failure) after about 2 years.
     
  2. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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  3. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    After ordering the Seagate Constellation 500 GB SATA6 hard drive, I decided to order a Western Digital 1 TB Blue SATA hard drive as another spare.
     
  4. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Actually, all hard drives will fail...eventually. So every computer user should be prepared for that eventuality.

    I only buy "enterprise" grade drives. Sure, they cost a bit more, but they are specifically designed to be in use 24/7/365 in disk intensive environment - like busy file servers in a business setting. And typically they have significantly longer warranties. I note many drives today come with just 1 year warranty though most come with 3. Enterprise drives, however, typically come with 5 year warranties.

    Excellent troubleshooting there but for the future - and to save time as far as convincing the drive makers to replace the drive, the drive maker's own diagnostic utility reporting errors is all you need. Of course, performing the other tests is good reassurance we, as users, have done all we can to be sure we isolated the problem.

    Unfortunately, with hard drives being electro-mechanical devices (that is, they have several moving parts) friction and wear is unavoidable. Precision parts and quality construction can reduce that friction, but until Man can create perfection 100% of the time, there will always be some samples that fail prematurely - even from the best makers.

    Fortunately, at least from my experience, the major drive makers have a decent return policy.
     
  5. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    Indeed, I am very amazed by my Samsung HDD that is around 9 years old now, has been running almost everyday for several hours, and it's still fine. :) And this seems like a very unlucky moment when the drive didn't even make it 2 years :argh:
     
  6. The Red Moon

    The Red Moon Registered Member

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    Its quite re-assuring to think your most important component of your computer may simply fail you one day without a seconds notice.

    Here in the uk in some instances a new computer can be just as cheap as a new hard drive.
    Fear i would have is would the HDD be still available if/when the drive fails.

    I mean what are the tell tale signs of a drive dying on you and can we help to stop this decline in function.
    All i do is clean my drive as safely as i dare think possible and defrag the drive.
    Nothing more i can do.?

    This actually raises another interesting point and sorry for straying off topic slightly but do certain defrag programs in fact prolong the life and do others shorten it.?

    Thanks.
     
  7. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    Regarding mechanical HDDs, some say "clicking" sounds could be a "warning sign" that's something is about to happen.
    But I can say that my drive started doing these clicking sounds after 3-4 years already but it's still running as I mentioned, so I really don't put to much weight on the clicking sounds. It always clicks 1 time between 1-10 min after boot up before it gets warm. Sounds weird maybe, but it always does :D

    Some say defragging too often can shorten the life or at least have an impact on the hdd, while others say nothing can happen defrag as often as you like. Personally I don't defrag that often since I don't install/uninstall a lot of software. And the difference (speed increase) isn't as big as one might wish, if any at all. And I never defrag with anything else but the built-in one. Why use some 3'rd party defragger when they're all designed to do the same thing, defrag the hdd. :doubt:
     
  8. The Red Moon

    The Red Moon Registered Member

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    Thank you swex.
    I only defrag monthly myself.
    Not heard any clicking sounds.(yet)
     
  9. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    You're welcome :)

    I think it's around 2 years since I defragged the last time lol, it's not that important to me I guess :D
    No clicking sounds can't be a bad sign anyway :thumb:
     
  10. roger_m

    roger_m Registered Member

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    This quite simply not true for the most part.

    When you do a defrag, the standard approach taken my most defrag software is to just defrag any fragmented files. So for example, once you've completed a defrag, if you were to run a defrag again right away, there would be nothing to defrag as all the files are already defragmented. The longer the time between defrags the more fragmeneted file there will be. So in thery if you were to wait two months before doing another defrag, there would be twice as many file to defrag as if you waited a month - meaning that the defrag would take twice as long. While it would not work exactly like that, you can see what I mean.

    Defragmenting can actually help increase the life span of a hard drive, because there is less work in reading defragmented files where all the parts of the files are in order rather than files which have different parts spread out over the hard drive.
     
  11. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    The S.M.A.R.T. is finally showing something:

    1. Raw Read Count: Pre-failure
    2. Spin-up Time: Pre-failure
    3. Reallocated Sector Count: Pre-failure

    I didn't really have much of anything important on the hard drive, but I was able to successfully copy a significant amount of 'not-needed' files to another internal SATA hard drive using a Linux Live CD ISO.

    Since I was only showing Read Errors, I decided to try doing a hard drive Wipe (Strong Random Pattern followed by a Zero-Write). The Samsung hard drive that failed recently due to Read Errors, allowed me to complete a Wipe. Therefore, I think that I should be able to do a Wipe of this 'Failing' Western Digital hard drive. I started the Wipe procedure about 15 minutes ago and close to 10% of the Strong Random Pattern portion of the Wipe has been completed so far.

    The replacement Seagate Constellation hard drive arrives tomorrow.
     
  12. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    The "clicking" sounds aren't necessarily impending doom, they can simply be excessive head parking due to over-aggressive power management, which isn't particularly good, but not always deadly. I have heard that on my laptop for years now also, and have had no problems.

    I did have a hard drive die on my desktop machine, but in that case, the sounds was much more obvious, like the heads actually hitting the platter, etc. I got my data off immediately, and it died within a day after that. Now I backup data on an external usb drive without fail.
     
  13. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    I have been very lucky that all of my HDDs have lasted like 8 years. In fact out of the 5 HDDs i have owned. Only 1 has failed and it was from 2003. Failed like a year ago.
     
  14. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    The hard drive Wipe (Strong Random Pattern followed by a Zero-Write) operation completed without any errors.

    My new Seagate hard drive arrives today.
     
  15. emmjay

    emmjay Registered Member

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    I guess it is just a matter of luck. I have an IBM Thinkpad (not Lenovo) which came with an ATA Hitachi HDD in 2001 with XP on board. Several versions of Linux in a dual boot for several years as well. It has been used everyday for several hours a hour and is still working fine almost 13 years on. I run PC Doctor on the PC once a year and the HDD always passes muster. On the other hand I had a USB connected Lacie 500MB HDD that just quit in 3 years without warning. It was only used for incremental backups. I replaced it with a WD USB connected HD for incremental backups and have had it now for 5 years ... still operational. I now take a full image backup every 6 months on DVD-RW for all my systems (once bitten, twice shy with hard drives).
     
  16. Trespasser

    Trespasser Registered Member

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    I had a Western Digital SATA hard drive fail about two weeks ago. Was running Ubuntu on it and it happened while the thing was running. :mad: . It was only two years old. Bought it at NewEgg. I need to check if it's still under warranty.

    Correction...
    After checking on NewEgg the WD SATA drive that failed was three years old on March 2nd of this year. It had a three year warranty which means no longer under warranty.

    Later...
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
  17. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Most drives do give you notice - either by making clicking noises (indicating the R/W head is banging on the ends looking for data) or rumblings or whining noises (indicating motor bearings are failings) or with [apparently] random read/write errors.

    Nah! Not hardly! 500Gb Seagate 7200RPM for £44.64 w/VAT is much cheaper than a new (or even very used) computer (and that 44 bob was not even the cheapest).

    Yes - establish a decent backup routine, then use it!

    I don't agree with the comments on either side concerning defragging because there are too many variables and too many constants to make a generalized comment.

    The platter motor, for example, is spinning at 5400 or 7200 or 10K RPM regardless how fragmented or unfragmented the drive is. And the "armature" still must move the R/W head to the next file segment, regardless if the next cluster of data is in the adjacent sector, or across the platters. Therefore, whether the drive is fragmented or not has little to no bearing on wear and tear on the drive.

    The "act" of defragmenting, however, does put wear and tear on the drive's mechanical components so therefore, frequent defragging can and does increase wear and tear.

    THAT SAID - if there is a need for regular defragging, what that really means is you need to buy more disk space. With gobs of free disk space, files may be scattered all over the drive, but the file segments are typically saved together. If low on disk space, the drive is forced to scatter the fragments - and that impacts drive performance, not longevity.

    BTW - I am against 3rd party defraggers and totally against any defragger that works on a schedule, or in real time in the background. That means I recommend all Windows users stick with the built in defragger and I recommend all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users disable scheduled defragging.

    Why? While I don't argue that some 3rd party defraggers may be faster, or defrag more efficiently than Windows built in defragger, so what? The second (and I mean that quite literally) you begin to use the drive again, as normal system and program files are opened, updated (read: size changes), closed, fragmentation begins all over again. So any advantage of a more efficient defragging is quickly lost.

    Also, I see no reason to download and install a program that takes up disk space when a fully capable basic defragger is already included in the OS. And note a basic defragger is all we need.

    Finally, it is counterproductive defragging a drive with potentially 1000s of tiny temporary files on the drive. Therefore, you should ALWAYS run Disk Cleanup before defragging. Real-time and scheduled defraggers do NOT clean the clutter from the drives first.

    Bottom line - you defrag to address drive performance issues, not drive longevity issues.
     
  18. SweX

    SweX Registered Member

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    Yes I'm very used to hearing the noise now so I don't really care about it anymore.

    Wow that was a close call :ouch:
     
  19. roger_m

    roger_m Registered Member

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    I was under the assumption that there was less wear when data was stored seqentialy rather than all over the place. I thought there would be extra wear if head has to move all over the place to read data.

    I disagree with this. If you defragment a drive frequently there will be fewer files to defragment (equals shorted defrag time) vs if you do it only occasionally, so I don't see how this can be true. The exception to this is if you a performing a more through defrag which is not just defragmenting fragmented files, but arranging the files so that all the free space is at the end of the drive - that can lead to a more disk access when doing a defrag.
     
  20. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    I received and installed the new Seagate Constellation 500 GB SATA hard drive. I did my usual 'zero-write' to all hard drive sectors for the following two reasons:

    1. It gives the new hard drive a FULL "Work-Out". Therefore, this "Work-Out" stands a chance of finding existing defects so that I can RMA the defective hard drive.

    2. I am Paranoid that someone at the Factory may have put some Malware on the hard drive.

    I have only ran into one issue. The two (2) May Patch Tuesday Microsoft Office 2003 Critical Updates failed repeatedly to install. At first I jumped to the conclusion that maybe the hard drive had been failing prior to my most recent Image (about one week ago). So I restored an Image which was made about one month ago. The Office 2003 Critical Updates still fail installation.

    I think that I have figured out the cause of these failed installations, but I won't know until I get some time to further investigate. Suspected cause of the failed installations: My failed hard drive was partitioned into C: & E:. The original installation of Microsoft Office 2003 most likely put a hidden file on the E: partition. When I ran the Office 2003 Repair, I got a failure message saying that E: drive is missing. I had searched for some info on my problem and I found that if this hidden folder is missing that the Critical Office Updates will fail installation.

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/o...ource-after-the-installation-HA001140236.aspx
     
  21. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    You guys are scaring me with your horror stories. Currently i only have 1 external HDD as a backup of all my important files. I bought it one year ago and i rarely use it. Probably like once a month to store more files or to check things. o_O
     
  22. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    Yep, never again will I go without my data backed up on another drive. Close call.. :)
     
  23. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

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    I performed an Office 2003 Repair from the original Office 2003 installation CD. The two (2) Office 2003 Critical Update installations were successful. Problem Solved.
     
  24. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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    My experience shows no correlation between readings/sounds/etc whatsoever.
    I usually go for WD Blacks, they come, or used to come, with 5 years warranty.
    Buy plenty, multiple backups, a proper backup strategy.
    Mrk
     
  25. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    My oldest notebook is 8 years old [Compaq] and runs perfectly. I only had 1 hard drive failing in 2004 on a desktop which makes it a rare event in my experience. I only use notebooks and always on a table (very rarely on my lap).
     
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