Bug madness: High frequency of load/unload cycles

Milan Bouchet-Valat nalimilan at club.fr
Mon May 12 21:14:33 UTC 2008

I'd like to raise the developers' awareness about bug 59695 [1]: High
frequency of load/unload cycles on some hard disks may shorten lifetime

I'm not sure everybody knows about it. It deals with hard disks parking
after a too short period of idleness, and waking quickly after that,
causing their Load Cycle Count to skyrocket, potentially killing the HD
in a few months.

I'm not affected by this bug, and I've just read the thread and other
related topics. I'm concerned by the fact that people are afraid and
thus mix many different issues on the same report, that has become a
place to protest, to fear or to ask for help. There seem to be different
issues, that can be related to the file system, to running programs, to
hdparm settings, to laptop-mode being enabled manually, to hibernate and
suspend, and to specific hardware bugs. Thus, we can hardly think of a

A kind of fix was included by Debian and got into Hardy, which is:
* Set hdparm power management to 254 for all hard drives. (Closes:
But it has not fixed all issues. And it appears to cause some HD to
heat, which can possibly be dangerous. But this may just be an illusion.

One interesting point is that it seems Ubuntu does not let drives sleep
for more than a few seconds, and then forces them to wake up, even when
no action is performed by the user. This may be related to the
filesystem settings and should be fixed as a general rule.

Maybe it would be good that a developer triage all this mess, apply some
patches to fix most trivial issues and above all reassure people about
this, since for now we cannot even distinguish between different
problems. If some HD models are broken, we should be sure it's the case,
and ensure normal cases are handled correctly.

I know it's easy to ask and harder to work, but I think we are numerous
wanting to help triaging: if somebody with the needed knowledge and
ready to apply patches is OK to tackle that, I and many others are ready
to help. For now, some try to sum up the issues but it's rather

Thanks - this is the only critical bug that got into Hardy, one of the
most stable Ubuntu releases I've used!

1: https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/59695
2: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/acpi-support/+bug/229693

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