Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More about notebook HDD problems ...

Just a few quick notes that are more or less related to the problems with HDD notebooks - since I have warned a number of my friends on that potential mess with the huge number of 'load cycles' I have become a local guru on this matter and a number of cases came to my attention.

I'll start with the worse of all - an 80 GB Samsung HDD that has over 170000 load cycles in less than 2500 hours of use is now dying FAST - that notebook was used like 90% of the time in Windows but it might be possible that the 10% Linux use might have created half (or more) of those load cycles :( Also SMART does not seem to be internally activated by default on Samsung HDD drives, so the failures are very abrupt ... At first the HDD might look totally beyond recovery but you might get a small second chance (if you hear the HDD spinning and seeking) by leaving the computer ON for a night or so - after some time the internal firmware might get to the point where the HDD is again at least detected and at that point you can finally try the legendary SpinRite (highly recommended) - but if the data is REALLY important and you DO NOT have a lot of experience in data recovery you should rather seek for a reliable company that does that type of things for a living!

Another huge surprise (and big warning) came from an iBook - just 1300 hours but around 130000 cycles; that one was 100% Tiger (and might probably stay that way) so the blame is not 'shared' in any way - that potentially means that the problems in OSX might be as big as in Linux so beware! The HDD in that iBook is a Toshiba - a company that does not provide any direct tools to assess the problems with their drives (or to configure some of the internal settings) and since I also had some problems with a MK1032GAX I am now avoiding disk drives from that company ...

To finish this short post on a positive note (and raise the interest in my next post :) ) - the good news is that it seems that I have found a Linux distribution that does handle very well those HDD settings ... more details very-very soon :)

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