uart

Sudden power loss and HDD health. Head crash?

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It was my understanding that modern hard drives were pretty tolerant to sudden power loss. I knew that logical disk corruption was always a possibility, but I thought that the heads retracted and parked fairly safely in the event of power loss these days.

The thing that has me questioning that belief is that I just recently lost the hard drive in my HTPC after a bad storm that resulted in a number of sudden losses of power. My wife was watching the TV to get news about the storm, and the power kept on cutting out throughout the night. Normally I would turn off the PC and watch straight from the TV under these conditions, but of course the wife just kept restarting the PC after each event.

Eventually we lost all power for nearly a week (yeah it was a cracker of a storm), but when I eventually got it up and running again I noticed that the smart status of the drive had gone from being perfectly healthy to crap. I first ran a "chkdsk /f" and noticed it seemed to run a little slow. So then I looked at the smart status and there was a whole butt load of re-allocated sectors. Then after doing a full surface scan there were a bunch of bad sectors.

This is a pretty non critical application to me (no important data to lose) so I left the bad HDD in there for a while, and over the period of a few weeks it pretty much "fell apart", with new bad sectors popping up all over the place. The drive is pretty much toast now, that's for certain.

So now wondering if this was just a coincidence, and the drive was just about to die anyway, or am I right to be suspicious that the multiple power outages was a factor in it's demise? BTW, the HDD was just an old WD green 1.5TB. It had been in service for about 3 years and I was pretty sure that it was in perfect health before this event.

Edited by uart

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It could have been close to the edge or perhaps the rough stop and start made is sad. It's hard to tell from here. I'd run the WD diagnostics tools, you'd need to do such for an RMA anyway, and see what it says. Generally speaking though, drives should spin down gracefully in the event of unexpected power loss...but there are other factors that could prevent that from happening.

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It could have been close to the edge or perhaps the rough stop and start made is sad.

It's out of warranty so it's heading for the bin anyway.

I was going to run the WD diags but I'm pretty sure I know what;s going on. The bad sectors have grown and they're literally all over the platter. Just for fun I had a go at making a 400G partition at various positions on the drive, and there wasn't one place I could put it that didn't have bad sectors.

I think that there were some "brown outs" and other glitches with the power that night, so maybe it was just some type of freak occurrence.

Edited by uart

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Is the box on a UPS? Actually UPS or not, running during constant power interruptions isn't a guarantee of data integrity.

Sounds like the drive may have been on the way out anyway. :-/

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Is the box on a UPS?

No, not on a UPS. Like I said it's a pretty non critical application, basically just a glorified set top box. :)

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It could have been close to the edge or perhaps the rough stop and start made is sad. It's hard to tell from here. I'd run the WD diagnostics tools, you'd need to do such for an RMA anyway, and see what it says. Generally speaking though, drives should spin down gracefully in the event of unexpected power loss...but there are other factors that could prevent that from happening.

Just power cycling a thing can cause it to fail. If a drive is running for a long period of time it can easily (and frequently will) fail on the next restart. Similarly we recently had a server node that hadn't been powered down in a couple years fail as soon as it was restarted. While drives normally spin down gracefully, just like aircraft, starting up and landing are the most "risky" parts of a drive's operating life.

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I always had that paranoia when we ran our own web servers. The Linux ones would be up for years at a time, where the Windows guys...well, you know, had less lengthy uptime ;)

Rolling over the physical server and hoping it comes back up can be a little scary.

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