New HDD about to fail - how to check its health?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by naersjoen, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. naersjoen macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2008
    Hello fellow Mac users,

    I recently replaced the 250GB stock hard disk in my unibody MBP with a 500GB Seagate disk (ST9500420AS). All data was moved from the old to the new disk using a the most recent Time Machine backup. One evening about a week later, MacOS started running extremely slow, to the point where it would take several minutes for basic tasks like opening a context menu etc. to be carried out. Rebooting did not resolve this issue and after a few further reboots MacOS would not boot anymore.
    Disk Utility reported "Invalid Node Structure" and was unable to repair the disk. Disk Warrior was able to restore all the data on the disk (not really a concern as I have the backups) but could not repair it either.

    As I had changed the partitioning of the drive a day or two before that (using GParted and rEFIt; to expand the Windows partition), I thought that this might be the problem and re-imaged the disk from my Time Machine backup with the desired partitioning already in place. 3 days later I am in the same situation again...

    Now before I go and spend hours setting up the system from scratch, I would like to rule out hardware issues. Sadly Seagate's own SeaTools (for DOS) utility does not work on current Macs as it requires a PS/2 mouse and keyboard to be present (via hardware or BIOS emulation; neither of which is in a Mac these days). SeaTools for Windows runs from my Windows installation but quits any tests I run after a few seconds with a simple "FAIL" message.

    Hence my question: Are there any freeware tools for the Mac that would allow me to determine the health status of the hard disk? A Google search only returns commercial products. Or should I return the disk for a replacement?

  2. Jethryn Freyman macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

    Aug 9, 2007
    An invalid node structure is a directory problem, not a hardware problem. Open Disk Utility and check the SMART status of the drive. If it says anything other than "Verified", there's trouble. Even if it says verified, there may be trouble.

    Tech Tool Pro can check the SMART status in more detail, I think you can download a free copy if you have Applecare.
  3. naersjoen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 27, 2008
    Well, why would a new drive develop an Invalid Node Structure, seemingly out of the blue? I actually ran Disk Utility/Verifiy Disk a few times earlier this week and everything was fine. The SMART status says Verified so that doesn't help.

    The point is I don't want to return this disk and have to wait for a replacement without being somewhat certain that there is a problem with it. Likewise I don't want to reimage the disk again if I can't be certain it'll work this time.

    I do not have Applecare or access to any other commercial tools besides Disk Warrior, hence my question if there is an adequate freeware. Anyone?
  4. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    Good question. It's pretty hard to do that. Have you done any 'hard-beboots' with the new drive? I believe it is possible to mess with your Node Structure if power is cut at a particular time during startup.

    I don't know of any. Diskwarrior or TechTool Pro are really things you should have anyway. And they will solve your issue. Until you get your Node structure cleaned up by those guys, you machine will continue to behave a bi wonky. Hey, be glad it works at all! OS X is pretty good at dealing with hairy situations like this.

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