Cleaning and testing hard drives

Discussion in 'SSDs & Data Storage' started by FortTaylor, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. FortTaylor

    FortTaylor n00bie

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    What is the current standard these days for wiping drives and checking for errors and drive health?

    In the past, I've used Dban and a host of other brand tools like Seatools but I've never been very satisfied with those.

    I've got about 15 drives, all sata that I would like to wipe and sell online, so what would be considered the [H] Standard for cleaning out the info and proving that they are worthwhile used drives?
     
  2. sinisterDei

    sinisterDei Gawd

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    Anything that can write zeroes to the drives would be enough to remove any data that might be read. All of that "you've gotta overwrite stuff 3/6/10/15 times or it might get recovered" stuff is all bullshit; you write over a disk with zeros and it's unrecoverable.

    As for providing data that the drives are worthwhile, CrystalDiskInfo can provide you all the SMART data from the disks.

    If you want to actually *check* the drives manually that they're in good shape, I test drives with DTI Surface Scanner. I'm not sure it's exactly "the best" utility out there, but it's certainly functional, free, and you can fire it up multiple times simultaneously to test multiple drives at once. It'll run a full surface scan of the disk, and if even a single error is detected just chuck the drive IMO.
     
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  3. PliotronX

    PliotronX [H]ard|Gawd

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    Adding to sinister's awesome post, if the goal is determining if they are useable in as little time as possible, be prepared to give up on what I've come across as "poison drives" where they will lock up programs like disk management or even CrystalDiskInfo. Don't waste time on those, they are trash. Next, CDI is my preferred software to quickly glance at the statistics that the drive itself keeps track of. Like Sinister mentioned about this, it'll probably be the single best insight into how the drive is doing. In CDI, choose function, advanced feature, and raw values to decimal 10 to translate into actual count. I would say if a drive is over ~70k hours of power on time with no reallocated or pending sectors, it is doing okay and worth selling. Just like mileage on cars though, price accordingly because you really don't want to provide support for aged drives. Secure erase is a lot faster than writing out zeroes but is not a windows native function and requires booting into say parted magic and also may require hooking up the drives via internal SATA. If there are any pending sectors reported in CDI, perform a long format which will take quite a while for larger drives. During this long format, pending sectors will either be remapped as reallocated sectors or deemed useable by the drive and can keep it from remapping. Finally, if the drive has developed say double digits in reallocated sectors and only has like 25k hours of power on time, I would probably just secure erase and recycle it.
     
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  4. sinisterDei

    sinisterDei Gawd

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    Couldn't agree more here.

    The whole point of a hard drive is to reliably hold your data. If it can't do either one of those things - be reliable or hold your data - then it's worthless and should be tossed immediately. Hard drives should give you the warm fuzzy feeling that they've got your stuff and they'll have it tomorrow. It shouldn't be like your 12 year old car where you wonder if it's going to turn over in the morning when you need it to.

    Now then, all drives will eventually fail so you've gotta plan for that depending on the importance of your stuff of course. But on an individual disk level, if you have any doubt about a drive then you should get rid of it. Reasonable doubt is a conviction in this case :)
     
  5. auntjemima

    auntjemima Hand Jobs Legend

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    Windows 98se defrag and then a scan disk.
     
  6. daglesj

    daglesj [H]ardness Supreme

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    I just use Crystal Disk for the stats and if good I use the Low Level Format tool from http://hddguru.com/
     
  7. Ranulfo

    Ranulfo [H]ard|Gawd

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    Parted Magic used to be the easy go to freeware option for utility OS. Anyone know how good it is lately? I suppose I should bite the bullet and pay for a copy to test it.

    gsmartcontrol is decent enough for checking smart data and some tests:

    https://gsmartcontrol.sourceforge.io/home/
     
  8. Seagate_Surfer

    Seagate_Surfer Official Seagate Rep

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    Hello FortTaylor. What brand are your hard drives?
     
  9. FortTaylor

    FortTaylor n00bie

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    Several Seagates, WDs, and 1 Hitachi drive
     
  10. FortTaylor

    FortTaylor n00bie

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    Thank you sinisterDei and Pliotronx, I will definitely start here
     
  11. Seagate_Surfer

    Seagate_Surfer Official Seagate Rep

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    Hello FortTaylor. If you have not done so yet, you may format the Seagate drives following these instructions from our knowledge base.
     
  12. sinisterDei

    sinisterDei Gawd

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    By the way, I recently discovered if you are running Windows 10 that the built-in format utility can now write zeroes to the drive.

    Use the syntax:

    format X: /P:0
    This will cause Windows to format the disk and write zeroes to every sector. This will take a long time, depending on the size of the drives of course, but it should be enough to render any data ever stored on the drives unrecoverable.

    Specifying higher values for the /P switch, such as /P:1, will cause Windows to, after writing zeroes to all the sectors, to overwrite each sector with randomized data. This is for the paranoid bunch, and is completely unnecessary, but there you have it.

    *edit*
    Looks like you don't actually have to specify /P:0, just *don't* use quick format and it'll write out zeroes. Nifty. I haven't actually let a 'full' format happen on any disks for years now, so for all I know it's been writing zeroes for a while now. Tis a learning experience for me.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
  13. AlienTech

    AlienTech Limp Gawd

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    Seatools has low level format routines that remap bad sectors and the like. It takes a long time to scan each sector and wipe it though. Since the time it takes to wipe each sector is a constant, You have to use the dos version though. There are many programs that does wipes but seatools is the only one that can reclaim reallocated sectors.
     
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  14. Mega6

    Mega6 Gawd

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    Million ways to skin this cat, as above - go to drive manufacturer site, low level format utility. That is the best method for re-use. Ultimate boot disk (back in the day?) will do DOD erase patterns if you are in to that. More than a few others will too for free. I don't sell old drives for security reasons. If it was me, I would DOD erase them before I put them on Ebay or whatever. Better safe than sorry and it only takes forever, overnight for each depending on a million things. Disk health is SMARTDISK. Probably was mentioned above like 100 times.