Best Way to Buy and Test New Hard Drives?

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by Zarathustra[H], Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Hey all,

    As I am about to embark on the Great NAS Capacity Upgrade of 2017, I have noted the following typical advice:

    1.) Don't buy all your drives from the same vendor at the same time. You'll likely get most drives from the same lot, meaning if there is any kind of defect you are more likely to have multiple drive failures at once, and data loss.

    2.) Don't buy drives from Newegg. They don't package them well, and they are often DOA or die prematurely after a few months. Amazon does a better job.

    3.) Buy more than one drive at a time, as usually the packaging is better than a lone drive in a box

    4.) Test your drives before installation just in case.


    So. Is all of the above still accurate in 2017?

    If so, does the following strategy make sense for drives I can only find on Newegg and Amazon and need 12x of?

    1.) Buy two at a time, once every other week for 12 weeks.

    2.) Alternate every other two drives from Amazon and every other two from Newegg.


    Also, how is the best way to test them after receipt? A SMART Conveyance test? Long or short?

    Much obliged.
     
  2. Tiberian

    Tiberian Finger Me

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    Can't really speak for anything there except finding a good/great price on the drives you're interested in and that the only software I ever recommend for testing hard drives is the manufacturer's diagnostic tool (which pretty much every current hard drive maker still produces) and only that software. I just don't trust anything else, nothing third party, for testing the functionality and reliability of any hard drive than the tool created by the maker of the drive itself but that's just my own opinion.

    Having said that I will backtrack a bit and say I still trust SpinRite in some instances but with the shift towards SSDs and NVMe hardware (yes I know it's considered to be SSD hardware even so) SpinRite will finally fall into the obsolete category soon enough. I still prefer physical hard drives for raw storage and of course SSDs for pure performance nowadays so SpinRite can still prove useful in some situations.

    As for doing the actual diagnostics even with the manufacturer's tools, if you're looking at getting some very large capacity drives (like 8TB or larger) it's gonna be a long long process per drive for a full test - I would say use the short test (not S.M.A.R.T. related testing, ever, but whatever actual short diagnostic test the tool provides for) and if the results are clear then use the drive. Doing the long diagnostic (typically does a surface scan) on 8TB+ sized drives could be as long as 8 hours or more to completion so unless you're really really paranoid the short diagnostic - and again I say don't use any S.M.A.R.T. based testing methods - should provide the drive with a clean bill of health if it's good to go.
     
  3. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I do a 4 pass badblocks on every single hard disk drive I get (new / used / refirb) work, home or other. For 8TB drives the test takes several days but still less than a week.
     
  4. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    At work (where I have had 100s of drives and have done 75+ RMAs) I have found the manufacturer's tools suspect. Several times I have had manufacturer tools tell me a drive that was very bad was fine. As a result I don't trust them at all.
     
  5. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Interesting.


    What do you trust?
     
  6. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    A combination of badblocks testing + looking at the SMART raw data.
     
  7. Tiberian

    Tiberian Finger Me

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    Just as a counterpoint, until I recently moved from Las Vegas I had a shoebox full of Western Digital hard drives that all had 100% clean S.M.A.R.T. status, not one issue, but not one of them could pass the manufacturer's diagnostic and not one of them actually worked in regular use. ;)

    Personally I don't trust S.M.A.R.T. data, ever, so where does it go from here? :sneaky:
     
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  8. HammerSandwich

    HammerSandwich Gawd

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    FWIW, I recently bought some refurb HGST 3TBs when Newegg had them for $42 each. They were packed very nicely.

    And I test with badblocks + SMART before use.
     
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  9. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    I thought this might have been a historic concern, but I wasn't sure. Good to know they have improved.
     
  10. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Did you actually run the conveyance test, or were you just looking at existing flagged smart data?

    If you don't run a test, SMART will only Report failures as they happen.

    Based on my reading, the best approach is to run badblocks first with the -w flag (this destroys data, but not a problem on a new drive). For a 8-10 TB drive this may take a few days.

    It is unlikely badblocks will find errors directly as modern drives automatically flag and remap bad blocks, but the a team of running it should cause errors to appear in the SMART report if they are present.

    After that, as an additional step a SMART conveyance test may be run as well.

    This is quite a large time commitment for testing, but since I am buying these two drives at a time, with 14 days in-between and they can be run in parallel, it's not a huge deal.
     
  11. Tiberian

    Tiberian Finger Me

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    I ran several tests on each using various utilities outside of an operating system environment (MHDD, Victoria, HitachiDFT because it runs on any brand of drive, SpinRite, and of course WD's own tool all booted from optical media or USB sticks) and the drives consistently failed and would never finish any diagnostics but the S.M.A.R.T. status for all 11 of the drives was clear and they were a mixture of drives used in a variety of machines so it's not like 11 of the same drive from the same batch or anything.

    Sometimes weird shit happens and that was one of the weirdest in my long experience of working with computer hardware.
     
  12. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    That IS odd.
     
  13. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Well, I've started ordering Seagate Enterprise 10TB Helium drives (ST10000NM0016).

    I'm definitely going to look at Badblocks and SMART data on them when I get them. Anyone know what the manufacturer tool for these is?

    I presume it is one of these, but there is very little description.
     
  14. hexamon

    hexamon [H]Lite

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    I recommend not getting all your drives from the same batch. I bought 5 2TB drives for a 5-Bay NAS in 2012 all from Seagate. This way back when hard drive prices were crazy high due to flooding in.. Thailand? anyway, 4 out of the 5 have died. Fortunately, no two failed at exactly the same time but they were not being used in a high-stress way at all.
     
  15. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Yeah, this is the goal.

    It's not always easy to know exactly which serial numbers/batches you are going to get though.

    For this reason (and for the reason of incurring less instantaneous financial pain) I am buying two at a time once every two weeks on payday.

    Getting all 12 will take 12 weeks this way. Hopefully other customers will buy enough in between to spread them out over many lots.

    I'm also alternating back and forth between Newegg and Amazon for my buys on every other paycheck, which hopefully will further diversify them.

    It's too bad you can't call someone up and just order 12 drives, all from different lots :p
     
  16. Tiberian

    Tiberian Finger Me

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  17. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Thanks,

    How unfortunate. No native Linux version.

    edit:

    I take that back, there is an Enterprise Linux CLI version under "Legacy Tools", but it says it does not test ATA or SATA drives, so presumably only SCSI and SAS?

    Either way, not going to work for me. Guess it's going to have to be a combination of Badblocks and SMART.
     
  18. Brian_B

    Brian_B Gawd

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    Newegg did package HDDs insufficiently, and personally I had a few returns because of that (which, to their credit, both Newegg and WD handled very well).

    That has changed in the past couple of years - now Newegg is at least comparable, and arguably better, as Amazon at packaging OEM HDDs. That being said, prices are typically comparable, I'd go either way if I could save a few bucks on identical SKUs.

    There is a slight risk of there being a class/lot wide specific defect, but HDD tech is mature enough now that if you are testing the drives after arrival, and you have warranty coverage for a few years following, that even if there were a class-wide problem that you wouldn't lose all the drives at the same time and could handle a failure gracefully. The most recent occasion I can think of where even basic RAID redundancy would be insufficient to protect against systemic drive failure would be the IBM DeskStar 75GXP, and that was nearly 20 years ago now.

    If your buying 12 drives total, two drives a week, by the time you actually get your NAS up and running, your first couple of lots of drives are going to be outside of retail return and into manufacturer's RMA (which is typically a much longer return process) - you did test the drive independently, but until you have all your drives in and spinning, you aren't testing the entire system. Your also making the assumption that 2 drives is enough to get the better packaging - which in my experience isn't true until you are getting a "case" of drives, which can be anywhere from 4 to 20.

    Now, you could cut that down significantly: 3 from Amazon, 3 from Newegg, within the same week, out over 2 weeks total. I still think that may be an unnecessary precaution, but it at least gets you all the hardware in hand for testing while it's all within it's 30-day easy return window.
     
  19. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    This is good advice I hadn't thought of.

    It shouldn't make a difference for me though, as my plan is to perform a ZFS "grow in place" upgrade.

    As each new 10tb Seagate Enterprise drive finishes badblocks and SMART Conveyance testing they will immediately replace a 4TB WD Red currently in the running NAS server.

    The vdev will resilver and continue running with mismatched drives until the last 10tb Seagate gets swapped in, at which point the entire storage pool grows to its new size.

    So, upon completion of testing, each new drive will see immediate use regardless of the fact that my purchasing is spread out over 12 weeks.
     
  20. Charlie_D

    Charlie_D Limp Gawd

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    For my HDD burn ins, I run these (my NASbox is freenas, so I actually grabbed this info from their forums, I'm only shamelessly pasting the commands here):

    smartctl -t short /dev/adaX
    smartctl -t conveyance /dev/adaX (didn't work for me, YMMV)
    smartctl -t long /dev/adaX (to catch any errors out of the gate)

    then
    sysctl kern.geom.debugflags=0x10 (to perform the raw IO)
    badblocks -b 4096 -ws /dev/adaX (specifying block size for drive-greater-than-2tb issues)
    badblocks -b 4096 -ns /dev/adaX

    then
    smartctl -t long /dev/adaX (to find any errors that popped up with the previous testing)
    smartctl -A /dev/adaX (results!)

    I used Tmux to run the tests on all 6 drives concurrently, and it took several days to finish. When I was done, however, I was fairly confident that the drives wouldn't give me an issue within the first month or so. ;)
     
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  21. reb00tin

    reb00tin Gawd

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    Failure is more statistical than testable. So an initial test-OK may be statistically insignificant.

    I'd do dd & cmp a 500GB image and listen for excessive vibration and weird "clonk" & parking sounds.
     
  22. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Yes and no.

    The initial testing has a lot of value in determining if there are any special causes for failure, most of which stem from shipping conditions, as the drives undergo a good amount of testing before they leave the factory.

    Once we have determined that there are no special causes for failure, then we return to the more statistical bathtub curve model of reliability.
     
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  23. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017 at 4:28 PM
  24. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    So I received the first two drives yesterday.

    At first glance some of the RAW SMART values for the drives looked horrendous, but then I find out this is just how Seagate does things, and the RAW values aren't necessarily indicative of anything. After completing all the tests I am going to hvae to read the disk status using SeaTools to make sure I get the right info. It's a shame that they hwve strayed away from SMART as the industry standard, instead requiring their own tools. :(

    I've run short and conveyance smart tests. The drive goes to sleep before a long test completes aborting it though. I'm going to have to write some sort of script to ping the drive every few minutes to make sure that doesn't happen.

    Running through badblocks right now. Total runtime for a 10TB drive appears to be about 11 hours.

    One thing that stood out to me about these 7200rpm helium drives is how amazingly quiet they are. They are much quieter than my 5400rpm WD Reds and old WD Greens.
     
  25. Zarathustra[H]

    Zarathustra[H] Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    I'll have to take this back.

    Looks like 11 hours was just for the writes, then it starts a separate read and compare action.

    The read and compare is 73.5% done with 23h 45min on the clock.
     
  26. HammerSandwich

    HammerSandwich Gawd

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  27. blkt

    blkt Gawd

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    Ignore all this bad advice. The Best way to Buy and Test new Hard Drives is through Best Buy and Geek Squad. Duh!

    As Tiberian said, use SeaTools DOS.

    https://www.seagate.com/files/www-c...tools/_shared/downloads/SeaToolsDOS223ALL.ISO

    http://tech.chandrahasa.com/2013/12/22/how-to-create-a-bootable-seatools-usb-drive/

    With DOS method you will need to set BIOS storage controller mode from AHCI to ATA (IDE/SATA).

    The alternative is use SeaTools for Windows.

    https://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/313457-seatools-dos-windows-how-use.html