Is it a bad idea to Zero Out a brand new HDD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jon08, Nov 13, 2009.

  1. jon08 macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    I replaced the original Hitachi HDD in my MBP with a Scorpio Blue 500 GB the other day. Before I installed anything onto it I went to Disk Utility and formatted my new drive with the Zero Out function. Now was this a bad idea?

    I heard some people say that this can be harmful to a HDD because it keeps it in constant use for quite an amount of time etc. I thought it was a good way of checking the drive for any errors whatsoever before installing SL onto it, but now I'm a bit concerned that I may have caused potential damage to my brand new hard drive???

    I hope not...
  2. JoeG4 macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2002
    Bay Area, Ca.
    Nah, it's fine. And nice purchase, too! Right now WD, Fujitsu, and Samsung are the only hard drives I'd touch lol.

    I have no idea why you'd bother to zero out a hard drive though.
  3. Sneakz macrumors 65816


    Jul 17, 2008
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    The is no need to do it but there is also no harm so it's up to you.
  4. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    Thanks for the reassurance. I believe I once read somewhere that Zeroing out a disk will aside from obvious deletion of data also verify whether there are some bad sectors on the disk and then automatically prevent OS from using them, or something like that? Anyway, something along the lines of warning you if there are some bad sectors on the HDD... Is that not so?

    Btw, I'm not saying he is a very reliable source, but this guy named Trevor points out why doing a Zero Out erase may be harmful to a HDD here:

    Is what he is saying plausible?

    As far as Scorpio Blue, here's what I wrote in another thread: I got my Scorpio Blue 500 GB for my Early 2008 MBP the other day, and I'm also experiencing the clicking noise. It sounds like the head parks itself on HD, and then other times its another type of a click that sounds like something moved inside and it intensifies the disk's "humming" slightly, then decreases it again. It's not really humming, but it more resembles the sound that the fans make. It's really hard to explain, but I guess you know what I'm talking about.

    I'm pretty frustrated with this because I didn't see it coming. And it happens 1-3 times in a min I would say...
  5. Chrysaor macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2006
    It definitely won't harm the drive.

    It can be useful to zero out, if the drive will already fail in the near future (manufacturing defect) or to discover bad sectors, so you can RMA it quickly.
    However, most of the time (assuming no manufacturing defects), it will just be a waste of time.
  6. AppleNewton macrumors 68000


    Apr 3, 2007
    1 Finite Place
    shouldnt hurt it what will either do it successfully or not.

    you can always run the verify disk in disk utility to check too; since according to WD Support they arent making a WD Diagnostics utility for Mac and state that using that fuction & Disk Utility are just as good as their own utility.
    so thats what ive been doing with most of my new WD drives.

    goodluck with it
  7. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    I see. How long does the verification of a disk take?
  8. neowillendit macrumors member


    Oct 7, 2009
    About 60 seconds on my 500GB Western Digital Scorpio (you can only do this step after you format it BTW).

    P.S. My $0.02 cents, it's a good idea to do for people like me (security conscious) and I do believe also that it will tag bad sectors of the drive to prevent them from use. Of course if it does tag any sectors and Disk Utility reports any errors on a brand new hard drive, it should be returned promptly.

    If you ever decide to zero-out again, be sure to install smcFanControl before-hand and crank the fans to 4000 RPMs to keep the case cool and allow the hard drive to spread the heat throughout the case (because when hard drives run hotter than recommended, it will shorten their life (if only by a few 100 hours, cuz it all matters to me).
  9. jon08 thread starter macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2008
    I see.. Thanks everyone for your input - I really got anxious for a sec there about Zeroing out my new HDD...
  10. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
  11. gwerhart0800 macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    Loveland, CO
    I have 4 of the 500GB WD Scorpio Blue drives. For each, I hooked the drive up to an old Windows box and ran the WD diagnostics on it which includes a surface scan that check every sector on the disk. It takes more than an hour and the drive does get hot, but that is within the tolerances of the drive. I have had one of these drives fail with bad sectors and got a replacement from WD without any hassle. In that case, I caught the issue early enough that I saved almost all my data. Once I removed the drive, I ran the WD diagnostics on it (via the Windows box) until it popped up a dialog box indicating that the drive was beyond repair. Prior to this, it would run the surface scan, then offer to "fix" (bad block forwarding) the bad sectors. I think I had to run it 20 times before it could no longer fix the drive and declared it dead. At that point, I printed a screen dump of the diagnostic and filed for an RMA with WD. I sent the drive back with the screen dump.

    I highly recommend having a surface scanning tool available to check the drive periodically. If you have AppleCare, the extended diagnostics available from apple have this feature. There are also a number of 3rd party disk "doctor" packages that have this feature. For a boot drive, a surface scan will require that you boot off of some other media to check the drive. The Disk Utility does not have this feature to my knowledge.
  12. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Zeroing out is fine. Writes to each sector and sort of stress tests your new HDD.

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