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How bad is my Hard Drive doing?


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#1
TStodden

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I recently installed Active@ Hard Disk monitor (Free version) on my computer &
it's given me a warning right off the bat that's making me uneasy.

While you can see a snapshot of the drive in question (self-timestamped) to help
you out at http://img.photobuck...-12_10_2008.jpg, here's the gist of things that may help you out.

* I'm running Windows XP Home SP3.
* The hard drive was installed a couple of years ago. However, the SMART log on the HD reports over 2 years of runtime (Over 17,700 hours, as screenshot states).
* The pagefile (aka swap file, virtual memory) is stored on a separated hard drive for performance reasons. However, it doesn't support SMART technology & could be in worse shape than this hard drive for all I know.
* I do maintainance (Disk Checks, Disk Defragmentation, ect.) about once a month. However, no warning signs have been noted in the process...
* I just started using Active@ (which uses SMART technology) to check the health of my HD, which it has given my primary HD a score of 69% (As screenshot shows). -- Hence my Concern
* The motherboard in the computer is roughly 10 years old. -- It's old, it's slow (by today's standard), but it's still very functional!

With that in mind, here are my questions.

1) How bad is my Hard Drive doing?

2) How urgent should I replace my Hard Drive?

3) How long can I use this Hard Drive (knowing it's current condition) before I start running into major issues?

4) Once I get a new Hard Drive installed, would you recommend using it as a secondary Hard Drive (knowing it's current condition) for file/archive storage & Page File holdings? -- I'd like to recycle it, if possible.

5) Any suggestions on a Replacement Hard Drive? (Optional)

Please keep your answers in a professional tone, but don't sugar-coat things as I want know if I should be cautious or go into a full panic here. Please try to answer all questions here to the best of your ability with the given information so I can make an informed plan of action.

If you need more information than this, I'll try to give it to you... within reason.

Thank you very much for taking the time to look into my problem.
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#2
makai

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I promise... no sugar coating!

I've never heard of this utility before, but I did download and try it. I think I'll try it on my laptops. I can't state how accurate it is, but comparing my screenshot to yours makes me think something might be up with your drive. But then again, how do we know we can trust the application? I certainly don't have the experience with it!

While no one can predict when a harddrive will fail, that should never be your first concern. What should be is... backing up your data regularly. Say you purchased a new drive... you wouldn't expect it to fail 6 months down the road, would you?... therefore, you might be a little lax in backing up your data. However, even new drives can crash, and if you were lax, then bye-bye data!

What I'm going to recommend you do is invest in imaging software. I personnaly use Acronis True Image, but there are others, like Norton Ghost. If you computer is functioning just the way you like it with no apparent problems, then NOW is the time to think about imaging your current drive and using the image to clone a new one. Doing so will enable you to have a working computer with all the same customizations and applications cloned over. This will save you tremendous time over reinstalling Windows, drivers, and applications should you hard drive actually crash. I've use True Image to clone so many hard drives, I can't even remember how many. It's a very convenient way to manage your hard drive/computer. Think about it.

To answer your questions...
1) Don't know

2) Can't say

3) No idea

4) No, I wouldn't use this drive to archive data. If you suspect it enough to where you are willing to replace it, why would you turn around and trust it to keep you important data? As far as using it for a page file... I would think you would think it was such a waste just to use it for a page file and start storing data on it. Recommend you trash it if you don't trust it now.

5) Can't recommend a drive without knowing your system specs. I can't imagine a 10yr old system running SATA drives, but you never know if the OP has installed add on cards.

[attachment=25324:Active_small.jpg]

Edited by makai, 10 December 2008 - 07:26 PM.

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#3
TStodden

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Thanks for being honest. Active@ uses SMART information that's stored on the hard drive in order to predict potential HD failure & that warning note coming from the drive smart logs (which would pop-up every 5 minutes if I didn't kill the pop-up notice) on the first use pretty much hit me with a horrible wake up call that Windows wasn't giving me.

Pretty much the safe method would for me to slap a big-[bleep] USB extra HD for back-ups (stash it inside the system w/ the internal port) for the meantime while I shop for a new HD. Right now, I can only support IDE connections right now as I don't have a SATA card installed. I've pretty much haven't bother to add one because of the age of the system.

Most likely, I'm taking this a bit too seriously... but I should at least cover my bases if & when it finally goes.
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#4
makai

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Yah, you just never know when a drive will crash. Actually, I've never experienced a crashed drive, but then again, I keep upgrading the drives as I do a lot of video editing.

Good luck!

makai
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#5
PedroDaGR8

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Yah, you just never know when a drive will crash. Actually, I've never experienced a crashed drive, but then again, I keep upgrading the drives as I do a lot of video editing.

Good luck!

makai


This program does nothing special other than check SMART logs, there are a WIDE range of programs that do this. That being said SMART does not tell you when a crash is imminent, but instead lest you know when a crash is becoming more likely. Drives can crash for a wide range of reasons not listed in SMART (Power surges come to mind). SMART is mainly intended for server applications where a sick drive can be migrated out of a RAID array, before it fails catastrophically.

The biggest thing I see is that your reallocated sectors is high, but not horrible. The older the drive the more likely you are to have reallocated sectors. These are just places where either the data cannot be read and/or cannot be written. WHen it encounters this, it tries to recover the data, if it can't it marks it as bad and replaces it with a new sector from a block reserved by the HD for just such occurences. What this is basically telling you is that you have had multiple bad sectors in the past (139 to be exact). When you run out of these preallocated sectors, your drive will then start shrinking in size. Thats it. Now that being said, if you start getting more frequent read/write errors or the number of bad sectors starts increasing with more rapidity, then you have a drive that is starting to show signs of failure.
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#6
Neil Jones

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SMART data is historically not very accurate. It's only a prediction and I did see a drive that lasted the best part of a year after the SMART feature first started claiming it was going to die. The thing formatted fine, it checked out fine, it worked fine. It only died because the power supply killed it in the end :)

Edited by Neil Jones, 14 December 2008 - 05:09 AM.

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