Is this hard drive failure?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by trsblader, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. trsblader, Mar 16, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013

    trsblader macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Hey guys, wondering if I have a hard drive about to crap out on me.

    Here's the symptoms. Was working perfectly fine, and then one day it went to crap. It takes the computer a long time to recognize or eject the drive. It's an external Western Digital and has the lock software on it. It takes a very long time to even get the prompt for my password, a long time for it to accept the password, and multiple minutes before it actually unlocks the drive and the drive icon shows on my desktop.

    Once I open the drive, it takes a minute or more before any folders I open actually show their contents. Sometimes it takes more if there's a lot in the folder, sometimes it takes a little less if there isn't much.

    When transferring stuff to or from, it takes a few minutes to initialize the transfer (calculate size of transfer and how many items it's transferring). Actual transfer speeds seem a little low, but nothing too slow (USB 2.0), but I have not hard evidence of transfer speeds before and after these issues, "how it feels" more or less.

    It's a 2tb drive, and at one point was around 1.9 tb's full. I'm not exactly sure how full it was when this problem started happening as I didn't think to check, but I believe it was 1.7 or 1.8tb full by then.

    I don't notice any real noise differences. I guess I hear it a little more than normal, but I never really paid attention to it before to gauge a real difference. It certainly isn't anything extreme now though and is actually still quieter than some of my older drives.

    I'm already in the process of getting things off of it, but would like to know if I should plan to replace it in the near future or if there might be another issue causing this.

    Thanks
    - Brent

    EDIT: I should also mention, every once in a while it runs absolutely fine and acts like nothing is wrong. For instance, while typing this it was acting really slow and I initiated a transfer. Once that transfer was done, this thing acts like nothing was ever wrong. It is as fast as the day I bought it and opens everything instantly.
     
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #2
    It's possible there are some bad sector on the drive. If the sectors which are bad are in just the right area, it could cause these problems you're having.

    You can get a SMART Utility to do a cursory check on the drive, if it's under a write load.

    I use a PC DOS-based program called Spinrite as a maintenance and data recovery utility on all my HDD's. You have to have an IBM-PC in order to use it though. You take the HDD out of the Mac and connect it to the IBM-PC and run the program. Below is my old MBP HDD in a Dell PC with Spinrite working on it.

    Independent review of Spinrite (not me)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    The SMART Utility, for OS X, was indicating a bad sector on my iMac HDD and recently I took it out and installed an SSD. I put the HDD in a Dell PC and ran Spinrite on it, correcting the bad sector.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Giuly macrumors 68040

    Giuly

    #3
    I guess that this is rather related to the decryption of 1.9TB of data than to a hardware bug.
     
  4. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Sorry, I think i made an edit while you guys may have been responding. This is an external drive, not internal.
     
  5. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #5
    I think the only time you'd have concern with it being so full is if it was the drive that housed the OS. Then you'd notice significant slow downs and problems. As long as it's not an OS-drive, the impact of it being full diminishes.
     
  6. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    That's what I figured, but I didn't want to leave it out just in case.

    I just had disk utility verify the drive, and it came back as "ok". So assuming that disk utility is right, guess it's time to look for issues elsewhere.
     
  7. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #7
    Disk utility doesn't check the drive for bad sectors like Spinrite does, nor report problems like a SMART reading would.
     
  8. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Found the Western Digital test tool for my drive and here are the results:

    06-Quick Test on drive 2 did not complete! Status code = 07 (Failed read test element), Failure Checkpoint = 97 (Unknown Test) SMART self-test did not complete on drive 2!

    This apparently points to bad sectors and most likely failure according to what I found in their forums :(
     
  9. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #9
    These have the potential to be repaired, see my long Spinrite post above.
     
  10. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I went ahead and ran the extended test from western digitals software first, not realizing it was going to take 2 or 3 days to complete probably. It is supposed to indicate bad sectors and (after complete) has an option to attempt to repair them so figured their own software was worth a shot first. I certainly appreciate the help and the software suggestions.

    I have a general idea of what causes bad sectors in a drive and was wondering if one cause of all bad sectors could be because I keep my iTunes media on it (including movies and tv shows) and use it almost every night with my apple TV to watch movies or tv shows.
     
  11. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #11
    No, not at all. It matters not what data, how much or if there is no data on the drive. It can have bad sectors regardless. In fact, brand new drives can come with them. That's why HDD's have ECC, error correcting code. The ECC is constantly running on the fly compensating for errors on the surface of the platter.

    Many things can cause bad sectors.

    Read/Write Head Damage
    The hard drive's arm holds a read/write head responsible for converting electrical signals from the computer to magnetic ones stored on the disc. The head can occasionally make small errors while recording, which can render the information in a sector corrupt and unusable. The read/write head can be damaged by debris that makes its way into the hard drive.

    Software Errors
    Software occasionally makes mistakes and tells the hard drive to write unusable information to a sector on the hard drive. When the computer attempts to recover information from that sector and finds it unintelligible, the operating system assumes that the sector has become totally unusable.

    Physical Damage
    The disc spins very quickly while in use, and it can be easily damaged, if the head is forced to make contact with it. If the computer is jostled too aggressively or if a small piece of dust makes its way into the hard drive, the head can be knocked into the rapidly spinning disc. Normal use can also cause gradual physical damage to the hard drive, because of heat gradually warping the disc or because of oxidation of the drive's metal components.
     
  12. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    That makes sense. I had read elsewhere that keeping a drive on constantly having it perform read/write actions can lead to bad sectors. Maybe the person meant that it increases the probability of head damage. Or maybe the guy was just totally wrong lol.

    So since you seem pretty helpful would you mind if I picked your brain some more? Do you have suggestions for repairing repairable sectors on the fly before it gets worse? Software that quickly checks each time the drive is connected to the computer to see if any need repaired, or should I just do a full check as I'm doing now on some sort of schedule? I was doing a quick search this morning and found some potential software suggestions, but of course haven't had time to look into them myself. Figured while I have approximately 175 hours for this scan to finish that I could ask you and then start researching all possibilities.
     
  13. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #13
    I strongly recommend Spinrite, as I mentioned in post #2 to repair and keep HDD's running at their best. Watch the YouTube video to better understand how it works and what it does.
     
  14. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I'm going to keep using it, I was just wondering if there might be other similar options to compare to, and any other suggestions in general.
     
  15. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #15
    I hope you have and maintain good backups just in case. :)
     
  16. trsblader thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I do. I actually keep a backup of the backup of really important things.

    Luckily this drive is just full of BS. Old school projects, random video from years ago that I should just delete anyway, installers of old programs (before I had fast internet haha) that again, I should just delete. It's basically my "I might want it someday, but most likely not" drive. Only real thing of importance was the iTunes Media. I would hate to have to redownload it all again.

    I'm mostly taking this as a learning experience and a chance to play around with something new, since I have a spare empty drive laying around and what's store on this one isn't anything important.
     
  17. Edie Brickell macrumors member

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    #17
    You could try a simple smart monitor software which can check the health of your drive and other activities like temp bad sectors etc. Keep your drive 80% full and rest 20% free to move your data from one place to another. Or you can simply deleted the unwanted stuffs from your drive.
     

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