Introduction

If you are evaluating a used or questionable hard drive, this guide will show you how to do basic hard drive testing. While these tests are not perfect, most drive problems will appear.

Many common drive problems include:

  • High hours (Wear and tear)
  • Hidden problems
  • Reallocated sectors
  • Pending reallocated sectors

Why should used hard drives be checked?

Most failures are sudden. If these problems are caught early, the drive can be replaced before it fails. SMART plays a major role in this, since the data can be used to check for logs and failure patterns.

Note: Some hard drives (Ex: Seagate 7.01/7200.11) are known to fail. Others fail due to lower quality standards (Ex: WD Blue/Green).

Guide notes

  • While Parted Magic can legally be redistributed per the GPL, I will not point to these downloads.
  • The tests used in this guide are not 100% accurate.

A word on drive remapping

  • While WD, HGST and Seagate offer diagnostic tools, these do not work in every scenario (Ex: Lots of bad sectors).
  • Before attempting a sector remap, backup your data.
  • Drives with SMART errors should be replaced.

Pièces

If the hard drive is not installed in a PC, a USB drive adapter can be used.
  • If the hard drive is not installed in a PC, a USB drive adapter can be used.

  • If the hard drive is not installed and you do not have a USB adapter, plug the drive into your motherboard. If the drive is installed, leave it alone.

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While high hours are not an indication of failure, these drives are more likely to fail.
  • While high hours are not an indication of failure, these drives are more likely to fail.

  • If you cannot read the POH/POC the way Disks outputs it, GSmartControl can be used in Ubuntu.

  • Boot your system into a live Ubuntu session. Locate the Disks application and select the hard disk you want to test.

  • From the drop-down menu, select SMART Data and Self Tests. This will pull up the SMART data.

  • Locate the following SMART attributes: Power On Hours and Power Cycle Count.

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  • If this attribute is highlighted, replace the drive if the number is high. SMART Extended is recommended for accuracy.

  • If your drive has run out of spare sectors, the drive capacity will be reduced.

  • Locate the following SMART attributes: Reallocated sector count; Current pending sector count.

  • To run a SMART Extended Self-Test, left click Start Self-Test. Select Extended from the drop-down menu.

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  • While high hours are not an indication of failure, these drives are more likely to fail.

  • Select Disks from the desktop to open GSmartControl.

  • Select the hard disk you want to test. Click Attributes to read the SMART data.

  • Locate the following attributes: Power On Time and Power Cycle Count.

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  • If this attribute is highlighted, replace the drive if the number is high.

  • If you are selecting a test, SMART Extended is recommended for accuracy.

  • In the Attributes tab, locate the following SMART attributes: Reallocated Sector Count; Reallocation Event Count; Current Pending Sector Count.

  • To test the drive, select Perform Tests. Click Test type: and select Extended Self-Test.

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  • Use the error log and SMART data in conjunction to diagnose drive problems.

  • With the reallocated sectors verified, check the error log for any errors. Click the Error log tab.

  • In the Error Log, review the logged errors. If any are available, read the stored log files.

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  • Your options are limited to the ATA Security Set features supported by your drive.

  • If your drive has ATA Secure Erase implementation problems, choose External. On newer drives, use ATA Secure Erase if possible. If you have an SSD, only use Secure Erase.

  • Drives without ATA Secure Erase will need to be erased externally. Select a tool in External. For security, select Nwipe with DoD Short. This will erase the drive 3 times and blank it.

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Nick

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