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Old July 14, 2009, 06:54 PM
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Default Bad luck streak with HDDs?

Hi all,

Is there something I should be looking out for these days with respect to hard disks? Between 1996 and end of 2008, I haven't had many problems with failing hard disks. I had 1 failure out of 11 between those times, and that was because I overheated it in a SFF rig equipped with an undercooled Pentium 4 . However, this year, 3 out of 4 my hard drives I bought didn't even last 6 months.

Is there anything I should be looking out for when buying / using / installing HDDs? This is what I do right now to my HDDs:
  • INSTALLATION: I take every precaution I know of to install the HDD, including anti-static wrist band attached to the same ground as the computer I am working on, and not to force anything.
  • INITIAL TEST: Attach to either main rig or laptop (depending on drive), and run badblocks (fill drive with several nonrandom patterns), and SMART self test. For laptop, I use a Vantec LapCool so HDD doesn't overheat, and my main rig has a 120mm intake fan blowing cool air across HDD
  • INITIAL BENCHMARK: I run HDTune on new HDD because I'm curious
  • WEEKLY Test: Every 1-2 weeks I run either SMART self test or HDTune's test on HDD.
  • USAGE: I generally do programming (with Eclipse and its write-1000-files-in-workspace) or poke virtual machines on the HDD. I also run a weekly backup of data (I don't lose anything when these HDDs croak). Since I always like to keep my current work in two places at once, I sync my work files between my hard disk and USB key at the beginning and end of a sitting. These work files take up about 100 MB.
  • FOLDING@HOME: Computer usually stays on for days at a time because I fold 24/7 ish. I restart for Windows Update or anything else major.
Am I somehow asking too much out of my HDDs with what I do to them? Are these perpendicular recording tech HDDs more sensitive that the older ones? ...or do both my local computer stores play air hockey with HDDs before selling them?

Here's my current record for this year:
1. January 2009: SAMSUNG HD103UJ (1 TB spinpoint), bought from local computer store, failed (100+ reallocated sectors) in my main rig after ~20 days. Replaced by the store.
2. June 2009: Seagate ST3500320AS (500 GB 7200.11 with SD1A firmware), bought from a different local computer store, failed (BIOS reported it dead, 1971 reallocated sectors) in my main rig after 4 months or so. RMA'd and replaced by Seagate.
3. The day of this post: FUJITSU MJA2250BH G2 (250 GB mobile hard drive), bought from the same store as HDD #1, failing in my laptop (lots of errors in log) after ~20 days. RMA will follow...
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Old July 17, 2009, 01:43 PM
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Wow, that's a run of bad luck.

I haven't had a HDD fail in years and I have dozens. I try to buy only 5-year warranted "enterprise class" HDDs and keep as many as possible in external enclosures.
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Old July 17, 2009, 01:45 PM
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If hard drives are dying that quick.. you better start looking at your power sources.
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Old July 17, 2009, 01:52 PM
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hell ya that's a lot of bad luck there. In the last 5 years think i had 2 go south on me.
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Old July 17, 2009, 02:34 PM
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Hrm..haven't had any hard drives die on me yet but funny enough, friend came over today with a 1tb drive he dropped while in an external. Click of death as usual, does anybody know if the freezing hdd method works as a temporary solution?
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Old July 17, 2009, 04:04 PM
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>>>Click of death as usual, does anybody know if the freezing hdd method works as a temporary solution?<<<

Freezing method? That's a blast from the past.

Actually, I think it worked by addressing overheated IC issues and possibly fluid bearing issues.

The click of death is more likely head-crash related.

Still, it's worth a try.
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Old July 17, 2009, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enaberif View Post
If hard drives are dying that quick.. you better start looking at your power sources.
My thoughts as well...
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Old July 18, 2009, 05:29 PM
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Hmm never considered power... thanks for the idea.

UPS for the desktop perhaps, so brownouts don't take it out? (computer, monitor, printer, telephone, router, modem, external HDD, speakers all attached to $15 refurb power bar ) I think the PSU itself is okay, or I'd expect it would fry out much weaker things like GPU or mobo before eating my HDDs. I've seen enough PSU reviews to know that I can't judge it by looking at just the voltages, so I won't bother trying that.

It's obviously useless to get a UPS for my laptop which has an 85 Wh battery.
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