How bad a shape is my hard disk in?
September 2, 2006 8:17 AM   Subscribe

When my hard drive started clicking, I backed it up. What now?

It doesn't click any more. My freeware SMART diagnostic utility said the drive was A-OK. It's less than a year old! (Though I heard recently that old electrical wiring with its surges and such can age computers prematurely.) Are there further things I can do to check its status or heal it? Or will I just live in fear until it crashes?
posted by skryche to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
"Or will I just live in fear until it crashes?"

In all sincerity, this is the attitude you should take about every single hard disk you ever come in contact with. There are rare specimens that work and keep working (one of mine has stubbornly refused to croak for 8 years of continuous 24-hour operation), but the fate of many of these complex machines is to die. SMART is hardly a perfect diagnostic, but it's better than none; keep checking on it. Steve Gibson's SpinRite is a great hard disk utility for Windows, and you may want to have it in your arsenal now or in the future.

Keep your backups updated so that when something unfortunate does happen -- and one day, be it years from now, it will -- you'll be able to laugh off your disk's feeble attempts to undermine you.
posted by majick at 8:31 AM on September 2, 2006

if it clicks and your backups are good, why not just get it replaced now? if it's under a year old, it's almost sure to be under at least the manufacturer's warranty, if not your computer's (unless you built the machine yourself). many hard drive manufacturers (dunno about computer makers) offer what they call an advanced RMA, in which they send you the new drive first, so you're not out the downtime (and can image old to new if you've got the software).
posted by mrg at 9:17 AM on September 2, 2006

get a 2nd hard drive and install windows/put your important files on that ... use the old hard drive for non-critical things ... that way if it pukes, you can still run the computer and you haven't lost anything important
posted by pyramid termite at 9:57 AM on September 2, 2006

Yes. It's puzzling. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this before. I would recommend that we put the unit back in operation and let it fail. It should then be a simple matter to track down the cause. We can certainly afford to be out of communication for the short time it will take to replace it.
posted by idontlikewords at 10:56 AM on September 2, 2006

Let me guess, a maxtor? I've got one that goes into clicking mode and refuses to note a thing in the SMART log too, even if it does manage to recover from the clicking without a reset. And since SMART says the drive passes the self-assessment, and the only way to detect the problem is to use the disk for a week or more (it doesn't seem to be triggered by high loads or anything), I doubt they'll take it back either.

The silver lining on this is that I've finally sorted out a way to do very frequent backups of the machine in question. I'm just hoping it'll either grow out of it or fail before the warrantee expires.

The only thing you could try is have it continually doing a long self-test, that way if it does go into clicking mode with any luck it'll note that the self test failed in the SMART self test log, and that should get you an RMA.
posted by fvw at 8:39 PM on September 2, 2006

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