Find the answer to your Linux question:
Results 1 to 7 of 7
General question - is it very common to have a hard drive fail? I've had a Compaq desktop since 1999, and the HD failed back in June. I then installed ...
Enjoy an ad free experience by logging in. Not a member yet? Register.
  1. #1
    Just Joined! Farmer Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Pueblo Colorado USA
    Posts
    51

    Unhappy hard drive failure - common?


    General question - is it very common to have a hard drive fail? I've had a Compaq desktop since 1999, and the HD failed back in June. I then installed Fedora 5 on the replacement HD. It looks like the hard drive in my 6 year old laptop is now dying. Is this common?

    I plan to get a new hard drive for the laptop now and put Fedora on it. I console myself with the thought that it's still cheaper than buying a Vista ready system.
    Mike

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer Zelmo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Riverton, UT, USA
    Posts
    1,001
    Hard drive life varies, of course, but they all die at some point. I've had some drives for five years or so that are still working. The only one that's died on me is actually one of my newest ones--a Western Digital Raptor that I bought three years ago. In any case, the manufacturer specifies a mean time between failure (normally in hours), around which point you should expect a drive to die.
    Stand up and be counted as a Linux user!

  3. #3
    oz
    oz is offline
    forum.guy
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    arch linux
    Posts
    18,733
    My drives usually last at least 5 years, and I've only had one fail sooner than that in 20 years of computing.
    oz

  4. $spacer_open
    $spacer_close
  5. #4
    Just Joined! Farmer Mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Pueblo Colorado USA
    Posts
    51
    Then I guess the hard drives didn't fail due to anything I did, their time was just up. I'm researching a replacement drive for the laptop now.

  6. #5
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    73
    Depends on brand and usage. I have 10 year old Western Digitals that still work but are just too small to be useful any more. I have never had a Seagate last more than a year out the dozens that I've killed. One occasion I bought a Seagate, it died less than a week out of the box. I got a replacement. It died in 3 months. Got another replacement that died in months and even though I could have gotten yet another free Seagate I said to H with it and got a WD that lasted me several years.

    In my experience Western Digital last forever.
    Maxtor will give you the warrentee period but not too much more usually.
    Seagates will die on you and before the warentee ends. I've never seen a single Seagate survive more than 3 years out of the hundreds of thousands I've had personal experience with.

    However Seagate just bought WD which means the ONLY really good drive out there will be destroyed just the way Seagate destroyed Conner when they bought them out. Before Seagate bought them Conner's were really good drives. Almost the equal of WD.

    Fujitsu and Maxtor make decent drives for good prices.

    With all that said you can still get a lemon even with the best brand. I've had a couple WDs die on me in under 5 years. One a week after I put it in. When I built computers about every 100th WD I put in would come back in the first 90 days while about every 4th Seagate, every 20th Maxtor would come back. Obviously I quit using Seagates completely and used Maxtor's sparingly after a clear pattern emerged.

    I use my drives extensively and put a heavy load on them. So other brands rarely last that long with me, though I had a Quantem once that lasted six or seven years and a Maxtor that made it to about the same age.

    If you are seeing constant drive deaths it's time to look into other factors. One possible problem is heat. They make special drive fans that can be a help, especially in systems using AMDs which are hot chips and who have high end graphics adapters which also put out a good bit of heat. Make sure your getting good ventalation to your computer and that the in and outs for airflow are not blocked by dust.

    A bad controller can make HDs appear to be dead. One way to test is to take the supposed dead HD out and put it in another machine. Often it's best to format it after recovering what if anything you can. See if it dies in the new machine or not. If the "dead" drive suddenly acts fine and your having trouble with your new drive in the origional machine you might try dumping the onboard HD controller and see if that helps. Depending on the brand you can often cheaply add a HDD controller card. Some MBs will not allow you to disable the onboard HDD controller no matter how many times you tell the bios to disable it. In those cases time for a new MB This is a major gripe I have with onboard controllers as they are often the first thing to go out on a machine. I have had to junk several MBs over the years for HDD controller failure and inability to add a controller that the bios will recognize. Pure scam, instead of getting another couple years from the MB till it's too slow to be useful you have to buy a whole new one and the ordeal of installing a new MB which might or might not take your current RAM and might or might not fit your case. If your using a name brand your f'ed. Whole machine is a loss if it's not still under warentee. One reason I build my own boxes.

  7. #6
    drl
    drl is online now
    Linux Engineer drl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Saint Paul, MN, USA / CentOS, Debian, Slackware, {Free, Open, Net}BSD, Solaris
    Posts
    1,293
    Hi, Draciron.
    Quote Originally Posted by Draciron
    However Seagate just bought WD ...
    The corporate section of Western Digital does not seem to have mentioned this, whereas Maxtor says that it has been acquired by Seagate http://www.maxtor.com/
    Quote Originally Posted by Draciron
    I've never seen a single Seagate survive more than 3 years out of the hundreds of thousands I've had personal experience with.
    I thought I had a lot of disks. So if you installed, say 5 Seagate disks into every box, you'd have built at least 20,000 boxes. Impressive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Draciron
    Seagates will die on you and before the warentee ends.
    That would seem to be better than dying after the warranty ends.

    The warranty that I see from the most recent WD drive I have is 3 years, from Seagate 5 years.

    There are some good charts on disks at Tom's Hardware, e.g. http://www23.tomshardware.com/storage.html , mostly on performance. I haven't seen many such comparisons on longevity. Many of the factors you cite do affect life, but I think the one that affects all components the most is heat.

    This last 10 day period must have been bad Karma for me; I lost 2 drives, one a Western Digital IDE, the other an IBM SCSI. Luckily drives are relatively cheap these days, and the 4 Seagate SATA drives I have in 2 separate machines have been running for more than 2 years.

    I'd be interested in hearing about studies of longevity of disks. There are many anecdotal postings, but I haven't seen much in the way of side-by-side comparisons ... cheers, drl
    Welcome - get the most out of the forum by reading forum basics and guidelines: click here.
    90% of questions can be answered by using man pages, Quick Search, Advanced Search, Google search, Wikipedia.
    We look forward to helping you with the challenge of the other 10%.
    ( Mn, 2.6.n, AMD-64 3000+, ASUS A8V Deluxe, 1 GB, SATA + IDE, Matrox G400 AGP )

  8. #7
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    73
    Greetings DRI

    >The corporate section of Western Digital does not seem to have mentioned this, whereas >Maxtor says that it has been acquired by Seagate http://www.maxtor.com/

    Man I hope your right about that. That would be a huge relief to me. I have only heard one news story on it and it named Western Digital (newspaper article).

    >I thought I had a lot of disks. So if you installed, say 5 Seagate disks into every box, >you'd have built at least 20,000 boxes. Impressive.

    In the way of personal usage I've been using computers since the mid 80s. Doing IT for a living since around 1990. The avg number of machines I own at any given time that actually run is around 5. Each has 2 or 3 hard drives. I didn't run many SCSI arrays. Too many machines too feed Machines (as configured, the cases, CDs and floppies tend to last many years. I have a Western Digital video card. It's ISA and has an increadible 256k of ram on it LOL that still works. At least did a couple years ago when my last MB that took ISA cards went down). Lets give each a lifespan of 5 years, and an avg of one extra upgrade HD. I still have about 20 working WD drives mostly collecting dust. The oldest is a 400 meg drive but I have lots of 1.2 gig and 2.3 gig drives that still work. 4 giggers, 10 giggers, 15 and so on. So that's 25 machines with 4 HDs making 100 that just my personal machines have had as a conservitive estimate. When I used Seagates I went far more than 4 drives on some of them. I had an old Cyrix 686 50mhz that still ran until a few months ago. The drives (3 WD 1.2 giggers still worked like a charm)

    The bulk of my experience comes from work. I've worn several IT hats but as a sys admin I spent alot of time with hardware. I've been responsible for thousands of machines in my career in IT.


    >That would seem to be better than dying after the warranty ends.
    LOL.. Not really though. Not unless you back up like you are supposed to, but who does? If it's not a company server it doesn't get backed up religiously. So every drive crash has cost me data. Since switching to WD they are quite rare. When a drive gets over 5 years old it usually winds up as a swap drive and temp storage until it's too small for even that and gets replaced by another obsoleted drive. Most companies I worked for we would junk the whole machine HD and all after 3-5 years. I have had machines as old as 7 or 8 years grace my desk as test machines or sitting in the server room as a print server or something akin to that.

    So I have personally maintained probably at least 10,000 machines in the course of my career. 16 years full time and at least 5 years as a hobby or part time.

    >The warranty that I see from the most recent WD drive I have is 3 years, from Seagate 5 >years.
    Shrug It's been many years since I had to use a warranty on a WD so i don't even notice. There were a couple buggy lots. I had to eat alot of crow once getting a major company to buy thousands of WDs and it happened to be the ONE bad batch. Still the replacement rate was lower than the Seagates they had been buying. Just very high for WD.

    >There are some good charts on disks at Tom's Hardware, e.g. >http://www23.tomshardware.com/storage.html , mostly on performance. I >haven't seen many such comparisons on longevity.

    They can't. If they did they'd get sued by companies with low performance on longevity. It's rather difficult to measure objectively anyway. Very few places keep tabs on data like that. I've never formally tracked drive failures in any place I've worked. A drive dies then I put a new one in and make sure to order spares when the stock gets low. More often I'm adding a second drive or putting a bigger one in place of another drive. You can track failure rates in the first year for major computer manufacturers but again that can be skewed. If X brand has a case with poor ventilation it's lead to higher drive failures for example. If X brand buys a small batch of X drive and gets a lemon batch then the overall performance is skewed. Hard stat to track.

    I just go on mine and other's personal experience. I use Linux and WD drives so I get lazy about backing up. Often going months at a time without backing anything up I'm not moving offline. I've been doing this for years and every few years something goes wrong and proves how unwise the practice is. Every 4 or 5 years a WD drive dies before I retire it because it's too small. Most other sys admins I know have had the same kind of experience with WD and will like me put nothing but WD in a machine if they have any choice about it. I do know a couple people who try to tell me Seagate is better now, but I've heard that before over the years. The most ironic was when I was a programmer back in the mid 90s. The sys admin put this new fancy Seagate drive in and bought a brand new tape drive. I told him that drive won't last. I also told him not to trust his backups until the heads had settled. He got rather upset with me and told me about Seagate's warranty and all that jazz. So not even 3 months later he gets a call while we are out of town for some training. He won't tell anybody what the call is about but he had to leave training early and fly back. I get back and find out the Seagate he was so proud of had indeed failed and that indeed like I predicted he couldn't read the backups.


    > Many of the factors you cite do affect life, but I think the one that affects all >components the most is heat.

    Almost every factor was heat related. If the ventilation is reduced more heat builds up. That is probably the biggest killer of drives. Though I have noticed people who have better luck with Seagates are people who do not really tax their machines. That turn the machines off every day. That do not push their systems. Folks like myself that reboot a couple times a year tend to be fellow fans of WD drives. My drives typically get cold only if I'm moving the machine.

    >This last 10 day period must have been bad Karma for me; I lost 2 drives, one a Western >Digital IDE, the other an IBM SCSI. Luckily drives are relatively cheap these days, and >the 4 Seagate SATA drives I have in 2 separate machines have been running for more >than 2 years.

    That is a bad streak. The IBM could be anything. At times IBM builds their own but most of the time they just rebrand somebody else's drive.

    I have a whole lot of ancedotes related to Seagate drives. I remember once a fellow computer builder trying to tell me Seagates were no long sorry drives and that he was putting them into all the machines he was building. I laughed and told him "Seagates will bite you man" Sure enough a couple months later he emailed me accusing me of cursing him LOL. He'd had a dozen Seagates come back on him less than a week.

    I remember hearing about one drive array on a server. They started with 8 Seagates. Within a year they'd switch to pure Metrolipis drives as every one of the Seagates had failed at every single Seagate had been replaced and failed at least once. Something on the order of 20 dead Seagates in a single year.

    One company i came into, the previous sys admin had been using Seagates. Soon as I had a couple die and noticed the pattern I spent a couple months fighting for enough replacement drives to replace over half the drives in service. Inside six months I'd used up almost all those replacement drives. Most of the ones I didn't have to replace were the odd WD and Maxtors that were in some of the machines.

    No, I have been burned too many times by Seagate. I will NEVER trust that company. When your talking about a HD your talking about a crucial piece of hardware. It's like driving a car with an aluminum block. You know it's going to die and at the worst possible time.

    That however is my personal experience with Seagates. I'm sure you'll find folks that say the opposite. I've just found every time Seagate does a quality push, it doesn't last. The problem is within the company way of doing biz. For example there was a time that Seagates were renowned for having too little fluid and failed frequently because of this. So employees angry over the flack they got over this overfilled the drives. This led to drives that locked up. Literally the way to unlock them was to bang them hard. If you search the web enough you might even find an official notice about this. I had one of those Seagate drives and every few weeks I had to power down, knock it with a hammer and then power back up. Rather annoying and obviously not good for the drive. It was with great trepidation that I did it the first time. Drives were cosniderably more fragile back then. Today if you drop a HD you think nothing of it and pick it back up. Back then if you dropped a drive you said a silent prayer and hoped it still worked. Here was the official cure of banging the drive to unstick the heads. It worked though. Give it a good bang, sometimes two or three and the drive would operate fine for days or even weeks before it'd lock up again. Let it cool down and forget it. You were not reading anything off the drive till it warmed up again. Glad those days are over.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •