Hard Drive Suicide

by on Jan.24, 2009, under Annoyances, Linux

How now! An external hard drive?
Clatters to the floor
[Within enclosure] O, I am slain!

Well, it happened something like that…

I was about to attach my external enclosure (containing a Seagate 120GB 2.5″ SATA hard drive) to my other laptop, when the cord came up short and the drive slid off my desk.

To the floor three feet below…

While it was running.

Hard Drives are rated to withstand falls from a few feet, but only when they’re not running. When they are running, however, the heads smash into the platters, spinning at 5,400 RPM.

So I’m running a fsck on the drive, and it finds a bad block (about 2.3 million 4096-byte blocks into the disk). As I went to pull my laptop and hard drive into my lap, and the hard drive slides off the desk again. In the same place, and landing the same way.

By this point, I’ve started to give up. Fsck tells me that there is a bad block in the same place, and I check the SMART statistics: 0 Reallocated Sectors.

I write data to the bad sectors to force them to reallocate. This goes on for quite a while (with the badblocks tool, among other things such as creating as many 10GB files filled with zeroes as I could (I got to 6 files of various sizes before the drive began buzzing) and I get up to about 150 reallocated sectors (Or around 90 as a calibrated hard drive value; for the record, the failure threshold is 36. The drive started at 100.).

I decide to back up the data (only one of the actual files on the drive is corrupt; all the damage is in unallocated space) and delete some things I have elsewhere. 156 reallocated sectors.

After backing up the data I decided that it would be best to do a destructive write test. Writing to bad blocks causes the drive’s firmware to reallocate them on a different section of the physical disk.

By the middle of the test (700,000 4096-byte blocks, starting at the first corrupted region), the drive began buzzing again, and when I finally gave up, it had reallocated about 2,100 sectors, and the calibrated value was down to 44.

At this point, I gave up.

Rest in peace, Seagate. You have been with me since I got my laptop. Thanks for all the fish.

On another note, I’m now in the market for a new 2.5″ SATA drive.

UPDATE: The drive is a lost cause. I’m not writing anything to it, and it’s reallocating sectors on its own.

Reallocated_Sector_Ct 0x0033 018 018 036 Pre-fail FAILING_NOW 3282

Powered-on time: 305 days, 6 hours. Rest in Peace.


7 Comments for this entry

  • Leon

    Dont’ feel bad, in the last week not only did I finally put a metaphorical bullet through dogma I may have also destroyed the power supply to my grandmother’s computer. I have a few tests to do tomorrow but I don’t have a good feeling about it.

  • Leon

    I had it opened up when I was trying to see if my laptop hard drive was compatible(kind of silly loking back, hehe), and after I was done my grandmother wanted me to blow the dust out of it. Without thinking I turned the can upside down to get up underneath part of the motherboard and BAM nitrogen in the power supply 🙁

  • Dustin

    Hmm. That should have been recoverable… I mean, people use Nitrogen to cool their computers all the time… then again, I’m not sure those duster cans use Nitrogen (citation needed?)

    As for the laptop hard drives:
    Laptop IDE hard drives use the same interface with a smaller connector and 4 more pins (for power). The pins are at 2mm pitch.
    Desktop IDE hard drives have a 40-pin connector (at 2.54mm pitch) and then an extra 4-prong connector for power.

    The only difference, apart from size, is the inclusion of the power cable in the interface cable. Adapters are pretty cheap.

    When it comes to SATA hard drives, it doesn’t matter. The connectors are the same. 🙂

  • Dustin

    Ahh. They contain difluoroethane, trifluoroethane, or tetrafluoroethane.
    Now, if it froze water vapor in the air which later melted in the power supply, then you may have a problem. 😉

  • Leon

    Im going to end up ordering anew one in the next week or so. On another note, RIP loyal seagate.

  • Micromause

    Did you try SpinRite? It’s saved many drives for me in the past… worth a shot…

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