Some hard disk is reporting health problems. Now what?

Kevin O'Gorman kogorman at
Mon Jul 11 03:16:38 UTC 2011

On Wed, Jul 6, 2011 at 5:34 PM, Joseph Loo <joseph.loo at>wrote:

> On 07/06/2011 07:48 AM, Kevin O'Gorman wrote:
>> Running Natty desktop, using it partly as a server, with a lot of disks
>> (10-12, depending) and even more partitions,
>> I am for the first time seeing this dialog box: "Hard Disk Problems
>> Detected. A hard disk is reporting health problems. "
>> The "Examine" button takes me to a window showing all disks and
>> partitions, but I don't see any way to determine
>> which is the one failing.  (I'm kind of hoping it's my main disk, which
>> is really a hardware RAID mirror set).
>> I could use pointers to troubleshooting.
>>   /var/log/kern.log has nothing but successes.  No joy in
>> /var/log/dmesg, or /var/log/syslog either.
>> --
>> Kevin O'Gorman, PhD
>>  I personally would run spinrite from You have enough drives to
> make it worthwhile. It will try to clean the disk up and will extend the
> life. I suspect the error is caused by a CRC error and it exceeded the
> amount of re-tries allowed by the system.
Disk Utility has narrowed it down to one drive, a 2TB Hitachi 7200 RPM that
I run in an external dock.  It shows over 1300 reassigned bad blocks, and a
few hundred more "queued" (it's offline at the moment, but I think that's
what it said.)  It assesses the drive as "failing" and I can't blame it.
I'm just going to get my data if I can.

The first thing I want to do is verify one of my other large drives as being
fully readable. There's some question about this because I have been unable
to dd(1) it to /dev/null in a 36-hour attempt.  It looks like I'm really in
for it with my drives, and I don't want to make any changes on a bad drive,
just copy what I can and replace them.

I may also be looking into better drive docks.  Right now I'm using the
cheapest thing I can find: Kingwin EZ-dock (gives choice of eSATA or USB
2.0.,  but there are now docks that go to USB 3.0, and I think that will be
a better choice all around.  Anybody with knowledge of SATA drive docks is
welcome to contribute wisdom / knowledge.

I'm expecting to get green drives so I don't have to worry about heat so
much -- these drives are mostly used for backups and repositories for
results; their speed won't affect much.  That Hitachi is the fastest drive I
have, which is maybe the problem.

Kevin O'Gorman, PhD
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