How to tell if my drive is physically damaged or not?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by nagromme, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. nagromme macrumors G5

    nagromme

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    #1
    My Air's internal HD became unrepairable by both Disk Utility and Disk Warrior, and Disk Warrior reported "speed inhibited by disk malfunction"--which I'm told is a VERY BAD sign.

    But I just wiped and reformatted the drive and that went OK. Should I trust Disk Warrior and throw out the drive? (Repair hassle!) Or am I pretty safe, as long as my backed-up data copies back onto the drive without error?

    I've been looking for a (free) way to do some kind of surface scan but haven't found anything. (SMART status is OK, but from my research that doesn't prove much.)

    Thanks for any advice!
     
  2. electroshock macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    #2
    Seems like it really boils down to the hassle of replacing it now vs. hassle of replacing it later. Either way, sounds like you may be doing it at some point.

    Or perhaps put a bit differently, do you believe that Disk Warrior's error message was a program bug? And that Disk Utility was just having a bad day for unrelated reasons?

    Kinda depends on how you look at it. If you think it was a software bug, then you might as well as continue using the drive. If you don't think it was a bug, then might want to consider replacing it.
     
  3. nagromme thread starter macrumors G5

    nagromme

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    #3
    It's not a question of a software bug--the DATA on the volume was indeed corrupted (Invalid Node Structure) and the software reported that. It happens: sometimes corrupted data can be fixed in place, but sometimes you just have to rely on your backup (which I do have).

    But has there been permanent PHYSICAL damage? That's what's unclear to me.

    I could replace the drive just be safe, but I'd hate to do so needlessly. (It would mean being without my computer for a while.) I'd prefer to do some kind of further testing and have a better idea. (Or maybe that "speed inhibited" message always means physical damage? But I WAS able to read all data from the drive even after the error--just to make one extra backup. I just couldn't write or boot with it unless I reformatted.)

    I also know that bad blocks (if that's what DW means) are not always fatal--in fact, they're fairly common. Just as long as the drive maps them out and doesn't use them!
     
  4. electroshock macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    #4
    The way I read the error messages you mentioned, it looked like the logical (data) damage could've been the result of some sort of physical? drive issue. Even if there was filesystem damage, DiskWarrior would normally not say the drive was being difficult (my paraphrasing here).

    If you feel the hassle of pre-emptively replacing the drive outweights the hassle of replacing it when it fails at some point, then the solution is simple enough: continue using the hard drive while ensuring you continue to have good backups so that when the time comes, it's just a swap and another restore.

    It's really a judgement call. We don't yet have enough information to be completely confident.

    You're not seeing, feeling, or hearing unusual vibration or loud clicking due to something other than parking or unparking, and the drive is still operable. So that suggests the drive ball bearing is OK, interface electronics is OK, power supply is OK, r/w head, arm, motor is OK. It's not clear if there is any media degradation issues or not -- that would require a more in-depth test of the drive plus any analysis of drive's reported SMART data.

    In other words, most of the major parts of the drive sounds OK but still not known if you have a failing drive or not. Best bet here might be to do a full backup then a full read/write (destructive) scan of the HD while booted off the DiskWarrior CD and then restore the HD afterwards.
     
  5. nagromme thread starter macrumors G5

    nagromme

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    #5
    Thanks. From what I can tell, DW's error might or might not be caused by physical damage--and having just spent $100 on DW when it couldn't fix my drive anyway, I hesitate to buy something else just to do a surface scan.

    So if there aren't additional tests I can do, then to be safe I will assume the worst and get a new drive put in. I will probably have to cancel a trip over this :( Apple said it would take 5-9 days to do the repair. On the bright side, my credit card doubles warranties, so it should be covered (or at least reimbursed).

    I was going to self-repair to get it done quicker, but parts (like this 80 GB HD) just aren't available anymore. At least not from reputable sources.

    I'll tell you this... even if/when I buy a tower, I never plan to use a spinning HD again :) Or maybe just for non-critical things like DVR. And my next Air will surely have an SSD.
     

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