Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,

So, is my hard drive in trouble? I have no idea.

The authors of certain hard disk monitoring software failed to take into account that making a test very cautious will lead to distrust of the test.

The disk utility in GNOME put up a systray icon with a big exclamation point, warning me that one of my terabyte hard drives had a whole lot of sectors that the drive firmware had reallocated, and that I should replace the drive. I looked at the numbers reported by the drive itself. There was a ‘raw value’ that perhaps means 134 bad sectors have been reallocated; the ‘goodness’, if you will, that the drive itself reports, is 97, versus the 100 on my other drive; if this number is above 36, the drive considers itself to have passed the test.

I suppose 36 and below means the disk is running out of spare sectors, though ideally the number should be tied to a prediction of whether the disk will get worse soon. Probably I should monitor the disk closely.

But mainly I researched the issue and saw that the people writing the software were kind of making up heuristics on the fly, trying to be more cautious than manufacturer specs, with the result that in the latest Ubuntu there is used a modified version that has the off-the-cuff heuristics turned off. So I ported that modified software to Exherbo, and now no screaming systray icon.

I have no idea whether my drive is fine or not. No bad sectors is better than a few, but I wasn’t under the impression that manufacturers expected customers to worry about some bad sectors. A lot of people may have had their armor soiled needlessly.

Mind you, in on-line discussions of the folly there is some participation by people reporting symptoms of actual drive failure. It happens all the time; luckily not yet to me at home, but I have had it happen at work (about the year 2000).

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