Close-up of a hard disk head resting on a disk...

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or Why I Almost Lost Data Today

Some of you who follow my twitter may already know that one of the inevitable misfortunes that can happen within a computer centric lifestyle is Hard Drive Failure. Let me tell you what has happened to me.

For one person, I have a lot of hard drives floating around.

*1x Intel SSD 80GB (Bay, Thinkpad X61 tablet)
1x Hitachi HDD 160GB (From Bay)
*1x Intel SSD 120GB (Work laptop, Thinkpad X201)
*1x Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALS 1TB (Juniper, ZaReason Limbo 6000A)
*1x Samsung Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen HD103SI 1TB (Parsley: HDD1 aka. HDA, QNAP TS-459 Pro)
*1x Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB(Parsley: HDD3 aka. HDC)
*2x Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB (Parsley: HDD2,4 aka. HDB/HDD)
1x Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EARS 2TB
1x Maxtor DiamondMax 6L200M0 200GB
2x Seagate Barracuda 250GB

* denotes a drive that is “live”.

I think I have more, just not near me. This list also does not include the many drives that I have killed over the years. I’ve learned a few things about hard drives. For instance, NEVER buy, borrow or otherwise acquire a hard drive that was manufactured in the Philippines, in my experience they die in less than a year. The worst example is when I bought a 500GB external drive in my first year of university, that lasted 3 months… the enclosure is still in good use.

My collection has spawned by harvesting old drives from computers that get replaced over time (see Maxtor and Seagate drives). The Spinpoint F1 was the first 1TB drive I owned, mostly for storing Anime and backups that wouldn’t fit on a laptop. Over time, I started to load up Nutmeg (predecessor to Juniper) with terrabyte drives when I experimented with setting up a home server and LVM. I could leave Nutmeg active to do some number crunching while I went about my day; The WD Cavier Green lineup appealed the most, boasting low power consumption and high density.

Now when I got a dedicated NAS with an extensive feature set provided by QNAP, 2TB drives were still a little bit too expensive, so I transferred the 4x1TB drives in Nutmeg to Parsley. Cleaver juggling of bytes to the smaller drives let me transition to this new solution without loosing data.

Of course, now my big drives are all in one basket so the 2TB Caviar Green, the latest of my drives, is used as redundancy that I keep in the enclosure mentioned above. It also helps data juggling when I need to do maintenance/experimentation on. I should note that QNAP puts a lot of scripts and abstractions on their NAS (in the name of user friendliness I presume), unfortunately this prevents me using LVM and hence I’m resorted to store data on single drives.

Situation Happy.


One comment

  1. bencord0

    Oh, FYI some usage statistics for the drives in Parsley. These are taken from SMART statuses
    SMART ID | SMART name | Raw value

    HDD1 HD103SI (Samsung Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen)
    9 Power_On_Hours 7341 (0.84 years)

    Data Loss – probably due to NAS firmware upgrade, not hardware.

    HDD2 WD10EADS (1TB Western Digital Caviar Green)
    9 Power_On_Hours 12596 (1.44 years)
    193 Load_Cycle_Count 565
    No data loss, ever.

    HDD3 HD103UJ (Samsung Spinpoint F1, really old)
    9 Power_On_Hours 14388 (1.64 years)
    Degraded SMART status of “Normal” for the past 2 weeks, but now restored to a status of “Good”, no data loss yet, but this is a drive which gets a lot of write ops since I don’t use LVM striping across PVs to load balance. Most of my mitigation strategies are targeted around this drive. This is the one expected to fail first.

    9 Power_On_Hours 12410 (1.42 years)
    193 Load_Cycle_Count 506
    No data loss, ever.

    The Internet has a lot discussion about the reliability of Western Digital Caviar Green Load Cycle Count. This is an energy saving optimization that apparently doesn’t work. The count is the number of times that the drive heads park and unpark, this affects drive noise and wear. WD reckon that the drive should survive millions of these.
    Some people report that this number increases very rapidly reducing the life of drives to 2-3 years, especially if your computer is very fidgety (like small kids). Some sources in WD suggest that this is no longer an issue, others (such as so called “IT Professionals” and some NAS manufacturers) suggest avoiding the WDxxEA{D,R}S in favor of Samsung drives instead.

    I have no idea about what the basis for this anti-WD campaign is. I have never had a WD drive fail on me, yet I know of at least 3 (including the 500GB on mentioned above) Samsung drives that have failed on me personally. Conversely, the Spinpoint series do appear to be very reliable drives and have been used successfully in many server deployments.

    Considering cost, power consumption, capacity and reliability, I cannot recommend WD highly enough. They have been good to me, and I don’t appear to be affected by the LCC issue.

    Disclaimer: I don’t really have that much in the way of stats, just my experience. It’s one more that what you’re going to get from most google searches, so live with it.

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