HDD fail :/

*From the annoying-like-h**ll department*

After a nice weekend at my parents and hanging out with some old friends, one of which recently came back from a stay in Kunshan, China, I was greeted this morning when coming back home by a crashed hard drive on my laptop :/

It started out with things beginning to act irregular, and then after a reboot I was told the computer had been uncleanly shut down and was dropped into an fsck run that failed in flames with I/O errors and whatnot. I ran a manual fsck and actually got it to a state where I could boot it again, the kernel kept spewing I/O error messages and failing ioctl commands though. I managed to get some of the more important files off the drive and onto my USB stick. They were actually surprisingly few compared to last time I had a hard drive crash, which is a small consolation.

Having been through several hard drive crashes in the past, what pisses me off most about this one is not the loss of data but the fact that it’s just a 1 year old drive that is now failing, which I really think is crappy. But more importantly the annoyance of loosing time having to go hunt for a new drive and set up the system again; I really don’t have time for this right now. What’s also annoying is that for many many years I always had at least two computers at home, but since just a few months ago, the laptop has been all I have. And of course the Kubuntu CD I had laying around was scratched so I had to go to a friend to burn a new one.

Anyway, the machine is back to normal now and sounding like a cat from the make -j4 getting a dev env up again. Lessons learned; as always, keep a backup; make sure you have a working installation media for your OS of choice around, and consider having at least two computers in your home.

At the store, getting the replacement drive, I didn’t really care that much what I was getting and just picked something. On the way back I realize that it’s a 320 GB Wester Digital… I think it might actually be the exact same model that I had.. Stupid? ;)

4 thoughts on “HDD fail :/

  1. That’s why portable computers that are regularly carried around should have no moving parts, i.e. use SSD instead HDD in this case.

    Also if you get I/O error it’s a very bad idea to keep it running repeatedly, trying to boot a system on it an rescue data that way. Instead get a new disc with at least the same size, connect it to the system, boot the computer from a Live CD/USB stick (I always use Knoppix for that purpose even if it’s usually outdated) and run dd_rescue /dev/baddrive /dev/newdrive, this will try to make a perfect image while not stopping the progress during bad I/Os and corrupted entries. Completely recovered the data of several HDDs this way already.

  2. definitely agree with the above poster about dd_rescue. it’s safer, with a higher rate of success.

    I think Western Digital is actually a relatively good manufacturer compared to some others, and I’ve had good luck with their products. Laptop hard drives in general just suck. For my last laptop purchase, I went with a smaller hard drive in the laptop and just used a portable external drive with it, and I’ve had far fewer problems.

    I’ll again agree with the above poster in the recommendation of SSDs. I’ll probably need a new machine next year, and am REALLY looking forward to getting rid of moving hard drive parts.

  3. Yea, thanks for your tips. But this time I just simply didn’t have time to go do the whole dd dance and try to rescue stuff, and I really didn’t lose any important data. And I did consider SSD, but decided to go with yet another cheap HDD instead. SSD will have to wait for next time ;)

    And yea, I like think WD is good too, that’s why I went with it in the first place ;) Guess I was just unlucky this time. I used to have one of their raptor disks in my desktop when I still had it, and that was really nice and fast.

    But yes, SSD is the future.

  4. I have been lucky. From the Hitachi drives I bought not one have ever failed me. The one in my ThinkPad T23 is over 5 years. Hmmm, the Seagates in my good, old rusty Amiga 4000 are also still working ;). I had problems with a Samsung drive tough – I heard mixed stuff about them, from “never had a problem with them” to “does not work reliably”.

    I think I will keep with Hitachi as long as these drives just work for me. And no, I think I wouldn’t buy the same drive again if it failed me before. Unless the manufacturer could convince me that it was just one from a defective batch of them.

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