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Checked my old drives in storage; How many bad sectors is too many?

Sarra

I have several drives sitting in storage.  I had three 1TB drives, two 500GB drives, and an 80GB dinosaur. The 1TB and 500GB drives are all Seagate, the 500's are 7200.12 series, and the 1TB drives are slightly newer, I can't recall the series off the top of my head.

 

So, of the three 1TB drives, one had several thousand reallocated sectors, something like 4,400. I marked it bad.

 

The next 1TB drive had 16 uncorrectable bad sectors, and 41,000 hours of power on time.

 

The final 1TB drive had 71,800 hours and 45 reallocated sectors.

 

The first 500GB drive I tested had 63,000 power on hours and no bad sectors what-so-ever.

 

The final 500GB drive had 11,800 hours, and 2 uncorrectable bad sectors, but that was it.

 

Then the mystery drive ended up being a really old 80GB WD drive, which shocked me that it even worked. It has 36,000 power on hours and 163 reallocated sectors.

 

If I were to toss some of these drives in a server, as overflow storage, or to put games on, how long could I expect them to last? I tend to have very high power on hours with very low power on cycles. I would keep an eye on the failed sectors counter, if it starts increasing, I know to pull it from service and recycle it. For non-critical storage, would YOU use any of these drives? They're fairly small, by today's standards (eyeing that 80GB drive), but they are still usable, they're still quiet, and I dislike wasting stuff for no reason. Those two 500GB drives are going to get used for sure, they're single platter and I really liked them when I first got them. I'm surprised one has so low power on hours, that was surprising. Maybe I could use these drives in a ZFS pool as the start of my storage pool on that server? I don't think I have enough space in the chassis for that many 3.5" drives, sadly.

"Don't fall down the hole!" ~James, 2022

 

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10 minutes ago, Sarra said:

For non-critical storage, would YOU use any of these drives?

IMO, anything greater than zero get decommissioned and put in the junk box (with a note). I've had bad sectors corrupt files and otherwise make drives unresponsive, which would be horrible for a RAID array.

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48 minutes ago, Sarra said:

the 500's are 7200.12 series

st500dm002?

 

48 minutes ago, Sarra said:

the 1TB drives are slightly newer, I can't recall the series off the top of my head

if they're not 7200.12, i would guess st1000dm003?

 

48 minutes ago, Sarra said:

Then the mystery drive ended up being a really old 80GB WD drive, which shocked me that it even worked.

wd800jd? It's actually not that surprising it still works, these drives are pretty reliable, i got a bunch of these that still work, one of which has 86,647 hours on it. 

48 minutes ago, Sarra said:

If I were to toss some of these drives in a server, as overflow storage, or to put games on, how long could I expect them to last?

Tough to say, they could last for years, or only a few days or weeks. But, as long as you keep backups (Or use them for non important data) you should be okay to use them, if you want to. Just know, with 71k, and 63k hours, they're nearing the end of their life, most of these drives don't live past 100,000 hours.

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i have a nearly 30 year old drive with a few bad sectors that's still going strong.. but presume that bad sectors mean it's on it's way out...

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1 hour ago, AbydosOne said:

IMO, anything greater than zero get decommissioned and put in the junk box (with a note). I've had bad sectors corrupt files and otherwise make drives unresponsive, which would be horrible for a RAID array.

I get this for, say, an OS drive, or for something critical, but for games? I mean, all of my saves are backed up automatically to Steam's cloud, and even synced across my Steam Deck and another PC. I could even load up some crap on my old server, if needs be. It's kinda difficult to condemn a drive for 2 bad sectors. I suppose I could pop in the drive and run Seagate's drive tool software and do a deep scan on it, maybe it'll have better information that just SMART reporting.

 

33 minutes ago, Ryker Robb said:

st500dm002?

I think it's maybe 2 or 3 generations newer than that. I didn't look too closely, the matched 1TB drives were slimmer than the older 1TB Seagate drive, I think they were dual platter vs quad platter of the older one.

 

35 minutes ago, Ryker Robb said:

wd800jd? It's actually not that surprising it still works, these drives are pretty reliable, i got a bunch of these that still work, one of which has 86,647 hours on it.

I think it's even older than that. Truth be told, I actually don't remember purchasing it, so... I have no idea how I even got it.

 

36 minutes ago, Ryker Robb said:

Tough to say, they could last for years, or only a few days or weeks. But, as long as you keep backups (Or use them for non important data) you should be okay to use them, if you want to. Just know, with 71k, and 63k hours, they're nearing the end of their life, most of these drives don't live past 100,000 hours.

I have an SSD with 86,000 hours and SMART reports 82% drive life left. I also tend to power things on and leave them on, thermal cycles can be bad for components. Granted, they cycle regardless during use, but I always hated the idea of spinning a cold drive up. A warmed up drive spinning up just seems... Less wear-inducing than spinning up a cold drive.

 

I have some more smaller drives, I think some of them have pretty high power on hours. I still have a SATA power and data cables hanging out in my gaming PC case, it wouldn't be too difficult to toss them in and at least peek at the SMART data.

16 minutes ago, manikyath said:

i have a nearly 30 year old drive with a few bad sectors that's still going strong.. but presume that bad sectors mean it's on it's way out...

I agree, but... I also recall that one of my drives had some bad sectors at around 10,000 hours, and is now at 63,000 hours with the same number of bad sectors. I think it's a crap shoot, ironically, I have one of those 3TB Seagate drives that's pretty unreliable, and I've never stored anything on it... It's just been sitting in my computer, forever, unused. And it has 0 bad sectors lol

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1 hour ago, AbydosOne said:

IMO, anything greater than zero get decommissioned and put in the junk box (with a note). I've had bad sectors corrupt files and otherwise make drives unresponsive, which would be horrible for a RAID array.

It used to be said that drives can come from the factory with bad sectors, not sure if its still the case.

 

Generally though the key is how quickly new ones are being found.  If the number is constantly going up, time to worry.  If it remains fairly static, probably fine.

 

If the contents of the drive is not important (eg games which you can just re-download) then I wouldn't be too concerned unless the drive is actually stalling due to severe errors.

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1 minute ago, Alex Atkin UK said:

It used to be said that drives can come from the factory with bad sectors, not sure if its still the case.

 

Generally though the key is how quickly new ones are being found.  If the number is constantly going up, time to worry.  If it remains fairly static, probably fine.

That was my take on spinning drives.

 

Just out of curiosity, I checked Newegg, the only place that 80GB drive would have come from, and no, I didn't buy that drive new. I seriously have no idea where it came from.

 

The 500GB drives weren't matched drives, I actually bought one in 2010, and another in 2011.

 

I also have no idea what-so-ever where the matched 1TB drives came from, they are not on my order history there, either. The not-matching 1TB drive was a ST31000520AS, purchased in 2010.

 

Dang, there's some... Sadness in my order history. 😛 Dual core Opteron 170, Socket 939, with an EPOX 939 board, and a pair of BFG 6600GT GPU's.

 

I also found the RAM kit I bought that would OC from 400mhz to around 820mhz. One stick died from that OC hell, but the other was still good 7 years ago when I gave it away. It would still hit 750ish, if you dropped the CPU multiplier. https://www.newegg.com/geil-512mb-184-pin-ddr-sdram/p/N82E16820144512?Item=N82E16820144512

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12 minutes ago, Sarra said:

I agree, but... I also recall that one of my drives had some bad sectors at around 10,000 hours, and is now at 63,000 hours with the same number of bad sectors. I think it's a crap shoot, ironically, I have one of those 3TB Seagate drives that's pretty unreliable, and I've never stored anything on it... It's just been sitting in my computer, forever, unused. And it has 0 bad sectors lol

in my experience, the drives that last forever with a few bad sectors are quite rare compared to the ones where it's a precursor to worse.

 

on the topic of experience.. quite a bit of that on the 3TB barracuda's.. and i dont think i've ever seen one dump large amounts of sectors, they seem to just get very sloppy seek performance that just gets worse until the drive is actually unusable. i'd say that not using them is a pretty solid way to make them last longer.

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14 minutes ago, manikyath said:

in my experience, the drives that last forever with a few bad sectors are quite rare compared to the ones where it's a precursor to worse.

 

on the topic of experience.. quite a bit of that on the 3TB barracuda's.. and i dont think i've ever seen one dump large amounts of sectors, they seem to just get very sloppy seek performance that just gets worse until the drive is actually unusable. i'd say that not using them is a pretty solid way to make them last longer.

I honestly can't remember the last time I had a drive die slowly.  Most of the time its been they worked, then suddenly didn't any more.  In the vast majority of cases I upgraded to a larger capacity before a drive started to fail anyway.

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1 hour ago, Sarra said:
2 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

st500dm002?

I think it's maybe 2 or 3 generations newer than that. I didn't look too closely, the matched 1TB drives were slimmer than the older 1TB Seagate drive, I think they were dual platter vs quad platter of the older one.

st500dm009 then.

1 hour ago, Sarra said:
2 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

wd800jd? It's actually not that surprising it still works, these drives are pretty reliable, i got a bunch of these that still work, one of which has 86,647 hours on it.

I think it's even older than that. Truth be told, I actually don't remember purchasing it, so... I have no idea how I even got it.

Is it pata? i would guess wd800bb or ab then. Or possibly even lb.

1 hour ago, Sarra said:

the matched 1TB drives were slimmer than the older 1TB Seagate drive, I think they were dual platter vs quad platter of the older one.

The older 1tb drive with 4 platters would be a 7200.11, while the 2 platter 1tb drive would be a 7200.12 as well. ST31000640AS or ST31000340AS for the 7200.11, and ST31000528AS or ST31000524AS for the 7200.12.

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First off, ALL harddrives still come with bad sectors from the manufacturer, it's simply the nature of the beast.

 

Now, depending on the information you have on the drive, you should be backing it up off site (at least to a separate drive.

Drives check themselves for bad sectors and if the sector is going bad will attempt to move it to a known good sector automatically and mark the sector as bad so nothing can be written to it. The problem here is if your drive is too full and there is insufficient space for the  data to moved to.

 

But as a general rule, I let it go to 10% of the drive, unless there is a massive increase in a short period of time, in my case it's more than 10 sectors within a months period, at which time I will replace it.

 

Another problem is which sectors are bad as Windows requires specific sectors to be readable for it to even boot. Fortunately Linux can come to your rescue with SystemRescue available free on line.  This lets you copy any information from your drive to another location. Then afterwards replace the drive and install Windows on the new drive. And only after you set it up, COPY the data from where you saved it to the new drive.

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53 minutes ago, Alex Atkin UK said:

It used to be said that drives can come from the factory with bad sectors, not sure if its still the case.

 

4 minutes ago, Thomas4 said:

First off, ALL harddrives still come with bad sectors from the manufacturer, it's simply the nature of the beast.

Yep, they're called primary defects.

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49 minutes ago, Sarra said:

Just out of curiosity, I checked Newegg, the only place that 80GB drive would have come from, and no, I didn't buy that drive new. I seriously have no idea where it came from

It was probably pulled from an old pc.

 

53 minutes ago, Sarra said:

The 500GB drives weren't matched drives, I actually bought one in 2010, and another in 2011.

Oh, so the're actually a ST3500418AS or a ST3500413AS then.

 

55 minutes ago, Sarra said:

The not-matching 1TB drive was a ST31000520AS, purchased in 2010.

That's a Barracuda LP 5900rpm drive, but in the same generation as the 7200.12.

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24 minutes ago, Thomas4 said:

The problem here is if your drive is too full and there is insufficient space for the  data to moved to.

Drives use spare sectors for this, they won't use sectors that are within the logical block address, so this isn't a problem.

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10 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

Is it pata? i would guess wd800bb or ab then. Or possibly even lb.

It actually has a molex and a SATA power connector. I do recall buying the drive brand new, I think it was in early 2002, maybe February or March.

 

9 hours ago, Thomas4 said:

But as a general rule, I let it go to 10% of the drive, unless there is a massive increase in a short period of time, in my case it's more than 10 sectors within a months period, at which time I will replace it.

 

Another problem is which sectors are bad as Windows requires specific sectors to be readable for it to even boot. Fortunately Linux can come to your rescue with SystemRescue available free on line.  This lets you copy any information from your drive to another location. Then afterwards replace the drive and install Windows on the new drive. And only after you set it up, COPY the data from where you saved it to the new drive.

So, every system I currently run has the OS on SSD. Spinning rust is only really for higher capacity data storage, and quite honestly, if I'm buying new drives, I'm just getting 4TB SATA SSD's anymore. I don't put OS on HDD, it's just too slow. Or impossible. Hum, maybe someone will make a 256GB HDD small enough to fit in a Steam Deck.

 

9 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

Oh, so the're actually a ST3500418AS or a ST3500413AS then.

I could have sworn I bought them together, but I have two separate purchases in my order history. The higher hours drive was a serious workhorse, running my Gaming PC right up to the time that I switched boot drives over to SSD's.

 

9 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

That's a Barracuda LP 5900rpm drive, but in the same generation as the 7200.12.

I think you might be right. I recall seeing the 5900rpm and being confused, as I always bought 7200rpm drives. I played with some 15k RPM SCSI drives back in 2000 and 2001, and realized that high RPM drives weren't for me. 😛

 

10 hours ago, Thomas4 said:

The problem here is if your drive is too full and there is insufficient space for the  data to moved to.

So, even with HDD's, I always had a policy to leave space on the drive. If it got over about 75% full, I would start moving stuff to other drives. I try to keep my SSD's at 50%, but I don't freak out if they get up to 75%.

 

I can recall a few nightmare defrags back in Win XP with a drive that was 97% full, that kept failing to even finish. "ETA is 27 days, 12 hours, 13 minutes, 72 seconds" as it starts counting up the seconds rapidly.

9 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

Drives use spare sectors for this, they won't use sectors that are within the logical block address, so this isn't a problem.

I recall using Seagate's drive tools waaaaaaaaaaaay back when to diagnose problems, check drive status, and other such. One feature was to flag bad sectors in a scan. If I seriously need to use these drives again, I will pull that up and give it a go. Not doing any big projects anymore, so I don't really need any more storage space ATM, but... If I ever get my YouTube stuff going again, I certainly will need at least another 10-18TB of space.

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"If you have a monitor, look at that monitor with your eyeballs." ~ Jake, 2022

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20 minutes ago, Sarra said:

It actually has a molex and a SATA power connector. I do recall buying the drive brand new, I think it was in early 2002, maybe February or March.

Well, then it would have to be a wd800jd, bd, or gd then. Wd didn't start using the sata interface until around 2003.

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8 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

Well, then it would have to be a wd800jd, bd, or gd then. Wd didn't start using the sata interface until around 2003.

Either way, I'm pretty surprised it still works.

"Don't fall down the hole!" ~James, 2022

 

"If you have a monitor, look at that monitor with your eyeballs." ~ Jake, 2022

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On 5/13/2024 at 5:38 PM, Thomas4 said:

First off, ALL harddrives still come with bad sectors from the manufacturer, it's simply the nature of the beast.

Do you have some kind of citation for this? A place where one can verify this statement? Of course it is reasonable that most hard drives manufactured could have some level of defective sectors, but that would occur during maybe testing of the hard drive, before being reset - if it is that is. Tolerances are likely a thing here, just like in any other manufacturing setting.

 

As an immediate example, my own Western Digital WD10EZEX hard drive has no counts of reallocated sectors, current pending sector counts, uncorrectable sector counts, and its write error rate is also at zero. This is with 81k of power-on hours.

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15 minutes ago, Godlygamer23 said:

Do you have some kind of citation for this? A place where one can verify this statement? Of course it is reasonable that most hard drives manufactured could have some level of defective sectors, but that would occur during maybe testing of the hard drive, before being reset - if it is that is. Tolerances are likely a thing here, just like in any other manufacturing setting.

 

As an immediate example, my own Western Digital WD10EZEX hard drive has no counts of reallocated sectors, current pending sector counts, uncorrectable sector counts, and its write error rate is also at zero. This is with 81k of power-on hours.

Primary defects are hidden from the user, so they won't appear in the smart info.

16 minutes ago, Godlygamer23 said:

Of course it is reasonable that most hard drives manufactured could have some level of defective sectors, but that would occur during maybe testing of the hard drive, before being reset - if it is that is. Tolerances are likely a thing here, just like in any other manufacturing setting.

This is why. Also:WD Blue MN1000M.pdf

page 29, 3.6.7 talks about defect management.

 

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2 minutes ago, Ryker Robb said:

Primary defects are hidden from the user, so they won't appear in the smart info.

This is why. Also:WD Blue MN1000M.pdf

page 29, 3.6.7 talks about defect management.

This doesn't state that all hard drives manufactured by WD have bad sectors. It just means they test for them. Some fallout is expected, and a few may be detected within a specific tolerance, but it's hard to believe that all WD hard drives have them. Either way, WD's document for this specific model series does not claim that they all have some present.

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"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you" - Edward I. Koch

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28 minutes ago, Godlygamer23 said:

Either way, WD's document for this specific model series does not claim that they all have some present.

I never said it did.

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3 hours ago, Ryker Robb said:

I never said it did.

Then I'm still looking for a citation to support the claim that all hard drives have bad sectors from the manufacturer. 

"It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out." - Carl Sagan.

"I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you" - Edward I. Koch

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Part of an article from Toms Hardware:

 

Every hard drive has bad sectors when they are produced. When the manufacturer initially sets up the drive, they record them in a special list, call the PLIST. This list is, to the most part, static. More bad sectors can be added to the list, but that requires special tools to make it happen. Then, there is the GLIST which houses the bad sectors that come along over the years of use. This list is managed by the hard drive itself. With the aforementioned tools, the GLIST can either be cleared out or transferred to the PLIST. To add to these lists, the operating systems (ie, Windows) keeps tracks of what it considers bad sectors and marks them as unusable.

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