20091103

Failing drives annoy me

I had a surprise when I upgraded the netbook to Karmic. It installed a SMART monitoring tool by default and it reported that my hard drive is failing. I did not experience this when I installed Karmic on my laptop but that was a clean install, not an upgrade. I did a search on Google and discovered that many are experiencing this and it is apparently a known bug. So this is the output of sudo smartctl -iA /dev/sda (install smartmontools first):
=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Device Model:     TOSHIBA MK1652GSX
Serial Number:    29AGF4FCS
Firmware Version: LV020J
User Capacity:    160,041,885,696 bytes
Device is:        Not in smartctl database [for details use: -P showall]
ATA Version is:   8
ATA Standard is:  Exact ATA specification draft version not indicated
Local Time is:    Tue Nov  3 06:21:31 2009 MYT
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 16
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000b   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  2 Throughput_Performance  0x0005   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0027   100   100   001    Pre-fail  Always       -       1129
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       10235
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       147
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000b   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  8 Seek_Time_Performance   0x0005   100   100   050    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   088   088   000    Old_age   Always       -       5027
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0033   253   100   030    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       240
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       34
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   096   096   000    Old_age   Always       -       47116
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       63 (Lifetime Min/Max 23/68)
196 Reallocated_Event_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       138
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0030   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x0032   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
220 Disk_Shift              0x0002   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       108
222 Loaded_Hours            0x0032   089   089   000    Old_age   Always       -       4505
223 Load_Retry_Count        0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
224 Load_Friction           0x0022   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
226 Load-in_Time            0x0026   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       334
240 Head_Flying_Hours       0x0001   100   100   001    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0

I have since discovered that SMART is not monitored by default in Jaunty so it's not a surprise that there were no warnings. I have no idea what the reallocated sector count was pre-Karmic, but I think that the hard drive was already going bad — there were signs even though it was mostly running fine. And the numbers does seem to indicate that it is genuine rather than a bug. After thinking it over I am leaning towards prudence and simply replacing the netbook's hard drive and buying an external enclosure for it in order to use it as portable storage. It's probably for the best.

That said, I'll take note of SMART beforehand the next time I do an upgrade to Karmic.

UPDATE 3/11/2009 11:21 p.m.: Upgraded another computer from Jaunty to Karmic. Zero problems.

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