Daily Archives: June 24, 2010

Barracuda Attack

Like the song’s antagonist, one of my two Barracuda 7200.12 1 TB hard drives just became a real low-lying nuisance.  Yesterday, my four-way Windows 7 box grew incredibly sluggish, a problem which persisted over restarts.  With the case cover off, I could hear intermittent clicks and buzzes coming from the primary hard drive.  They weren’t the extreme clicks of death, but sounds that seemed to indicate stumbling over chunks of bad sectors.

This was one of those once-every-year-or-so moments when backups go from pure overhead to the greatest thing since the ten cent gigabyte.

I suppose there are as many backup strategies as there are computers.  Components of this strategy balance the trade-offs between redundancy and recovery time, with RAID-1 or RAID-10 at one end, and incremental backups of just the personal data at the other.  I’ve gotten out of the RAID-1 habit for a few reasons: consistency with laptops, bad experiences with “logical” data failures (if you corrupt a Windows registry hive, you’ve just backed up the problem), and problems with lower-end RAID controllers.  But for my quick recovery needs, I do perhaps the next closest thing: put in pairs of drives and use periodic imaging and regular XXCOPY script runs (with /CLONE) to keep them in sync.

Because of this, recovery was indeed quick and easy; I simply swapped my shadow hard drive to primary and restarted.  This took the bad drive out of the critical path so I could find out what was wrong, and perhaps RMA this thing that I’ve only had for six months.

A full chkdsk found no bad sectors, and the SMART stats were within thresholds (with SMART, the absence of bad news is not necessarily good news).  Confounded, I let HD Tune run a full error scan.  It reported no bad sectors, but I could again hear the clicks and buzzes at various points: around 250 GB, 300 GB, 568 GB, 596 GB, and 695 GB.

So maybe this drive is farther from full failure than I thought.  But I’m not taking my chances, especially given Seagate’s checkered past with drives in this line.

Ironically, on the same day of the failure, I received a TigerDirect email offering this exact drive for $69.  Pass.