How trustworthy is smart ?

i have 2 disks : 40 Gb IDE Maxtor
Both report smart errors on startup - which cannot be reset
Both can be tested with Powermax, and give a 0 error result
I have installed XP on them, without problems, read them, written to them, in fact everything is OK, except the error at startup; i use them some months now.
So there is the question : what is bad, and IS there in fact something bad or not ?
i am starting to get S.M.A.R.T.   doubts....
any insight on this will be appreciated !
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nobusAsked:
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
S.M.A.R.T. is generally VERY reliable => if the disks are reporting "imminent failure" I would listen :-)

... but S.M.A.R.T.  also reports other out-of-spec parameters which are less critical ==> what are the error messages you're seeing ??

But for your specific question:  "How trustworth is smart?" ==> the answer is VERY :-)
(You just have to be sure you're properly interpreting what it's telling you)

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nobusAuthor Commented:
well - i understood (or thought so)  smart relatively well - but since BOTH disks paass the maxtor test without any errors  . ? . ?
The post error is : smart status bad , backup and replace
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dovidmichelCommented:
My experience has been in 100% agreement with GaryCase.
Beyond that there is this to add:
Primary question, is it under warranty?
If yes then without a doubt contact the manufacture for drive replacement.
If not then go ahead and use them for temporary or non-critical data that is ok to loose.

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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Install Everest (or another S.M.A.R.T. reader) and take a look at the actual S.M.A.R.T. status info => that will give you a better idea of just what has failed.
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nobusAuthor Commented:
ok i agree that something is wrong, but the question is what, since a long disk test does not show errors; one would suspect that a diagnostic shows some problems
here the Everest results :

                                                   Threshold  Value   Worst    Data   Status
Disk 1: reallocate Sector count          63          48         36     2079  Pre-Failure imminent loss of data is being predicted
Disk 2: spin retry count                    233        233        215     26  Pre-Failure imminent loss of data is being predicted

Now another thing : after power off/on a couple of times, and booting the smart status of disk 2 has changed to OK !!   Any comments on this ?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Disk 1 is the most worrisome => it's indicating you have a fairly large number of sectors failing and being automatically reallocated.   It's difficult to predict just how much this failure rate might accelerate -- it's not uncommon for failures to propogate to adjacent sectors ... this can cause failures to quickly grow.   If you get to the point where there are no more spare sectors to allocate, you'll quickly start to lose data ... not what you want to happen !!   Especially for such a relatively small drive, I'd replace it :-)    ... it would be interesting, by the way, to see what Spinrite reports with a Level 5 run against that drive (this would rewrite EVERY bit on every sector multiple times => it's about the most thorough test I'm aware of for a disk ... and can actually recover failed sectors in some cases.   Not sure if you have a copy to use ... but if so, I'd run it [Run it overnight ... it takes a good while => especially at level 5].

Disk 2 is more interesting ... it has apparently had some spinup issues => this indicates an issue with the mechanical subsystem of the disk.   Excessive spin retries are a good indication that you're likely to have a motor or bearing failure => clearly not a good sign !!   It's interesting this has changed to OK !!   This means there have been a fair number (not sure what the threshold is) of startups with no problems ... but if you get the warning again I'd pay attention => it's very likely there's a pending problem with this drive [and a sudden motor failure would mean total data loss unless you've willing to pay for professional recovery]

Bottom Line =>  At today's disk prices ... and especially with such relatively small drives ... I'd replace the drives :-)

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nobusAuthor Commented:
the drives are not "used" anymore, only for testing, playing around, temporary use
I'll run spinrite on the first, and report back  --> don't you mean level 4 ? maintenance mode ?
but again - are the diagnostics not supposed to show those problems ?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
No, Level 5 => it will actually recover sectors previously marked as bad if they test ok after a VERY thorough test.

... and no, typical diagnostics won't even "see" these bad sectors, because the S.M.A.R.T. system remaps bad sectors to spares ==> so the drive always "looks" perfect to most disk utilities (Chkdsk, etc.).   Spinrite disables the S.M.A.R.T.  subsystem for its tests, and actually tests the sectors that have been mapped out as well as all currently active sectors.
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nobusAuthor Commented:
i could not find level 5, how do i start it? from maintenance mode?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Pay attention as you do this ... I'm typing it from memory and may have missed a step :-)

Boot Spinrite;  hit Space a couple times until you get the "Press '2' for Recovery, '4' for Maintenance" message ... then press Enter;   select "View or Change Settings";  press Enter to select the level;  choose 5 - "Restore good sectors";  then press ESC to go back to the menu; then choose "Select Drives/Partitions" and choose which drive(s)/Partition(s) you want tested;  then press Enter to start the tests ...
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nobusAuthor Commented:
i can't find that; here is what i get :
DSCN0981.JPG
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Notice the note at the bottom:  "... highlight an option, then press Enter to view an explanation of the option or to alter its current setting."

==>  With the "Selected SpinRite operations" highlighted (as shown in your picture) all you have to do is press Enter :-)     ... you'll then get a menu of choices for the different Spinrite levels.   Just use the arrow keys to move the cursor to "5" and press Enter ==> you'll be right back at the menu shown in your picture above, except it will show that you've selected Level 5.    

This is exactly what I described above :-)  ["...  select "View or Change Settings";  press Enter to select the level;  choose 5 - "Restore good sectors"; ...]
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nobusAuthor Commented:
i misunderstood that page clearly - thanks for the support; running it right now.  I'll be back in some hours with new complaints LOL
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nobusAuthor Commented:
ok i ran it on Disk 1, - no errors, no messages
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
No errors, no messages ==> the sectors test okay, but it apparently wasn't able to restore any previously bad sectors ... so all those re-mapped sectors are still remapped.   Spinrite would notify you if it restored any sectors that had been marked bad.  [You DID look at the detailed technical log page ... right?]

Bottom line:  the disk is probably okay, but does have a large # of remapped sectors.   The S.M.A.R.T. warning about that is still valid => if many more fail, it won't be able to remap anymore and you'll lose data.   But for the use you noted ["...  testing, playing around, temporary use ...] the drive is fine :-)

The other drive (drive 2) only had spinup errors ... so it's probably just fine otherwise (again, for "...  testing, playing around, temporary use ...").
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nobusAuthor Commented:
could i get a healthy drive by swapping the logic boards?
another question that arose is coming from :  "after power off/on a couple of times, and booting the smart status of disk 2 has changed to OK !!  "   i thought smart info was kept on tracks on the platter, and could not be modified, or better reset - - or am i wrong ?

i'm rerunning spinrite, because i found i did not set the log function (i tend to be a bit hasty) and be back with more info.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I think your drives are fine ... there are some S.M.A.R.T. parameters that are based on the "last xx actions" => I don't know of a comprehensive list of which ones these are; but I suspect the spinup retries is one of those.   Yes, it's kept on the platters and YOU can't reset it ... but I think if the last xx (I don't know what the # is) tries were all successful, it won't warn you unless it increases again.

Unfortunately, bot the Spinup Retry Count and the Reallocated Sector Count are "critical" S.M.A.R.T.  parameters ... so these drives could very well be on their way out.   But if Spinrite says the platters are good ... they're good (except, of course, for those sectors that have been reallocated).   But that doesn't tell you how good the mechanicals are -- although if I remember correctly, Spinrite has a sector that shows the detailed S.M.A.R.T.  parameters [late .. going to bed .. and don't have time to boot up Spinrite and check that :-) ].
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nobusAuthor Commented:
i thought i posted the result...starnge
ok rerun the level 5 no errors.
any comments on this ?
>>>    could i get a healthy drive by swapping the logic boards?
>>>>     another question that arose is coming from :  "after power off/on a couple of times, and booting the smart status of disk 2 has changed to OK !!  "   i thought smart info was kept on tracks on the platter, and could not be modified, or better reset - - or am i wrong ?

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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
No errors, no messages ==> the physical sectors that are in use (not mapped out) are fine.   But those that have been mapped out were truly bad ... otherwise Spinrite would haved notified you if it restored them.
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nobusAuthor Commented:
any comments on the 2 lower statements?
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I don't think swapping the logic boards will help ... the errors you were getting are due to physically defective sectors (thus the remapping) and an occasionally slow spinup (this might be related to the controlling circuitry on the logic board, but I doubt it).

As I noted earlier, there are some S.M.A.R.T. parameters that are based on the "last xx actions" => I don't know of a comprehensive list of which ones these are; but I suspect the spinup retries is one of those.   Yes, it's kept on the platters and YOU can't reset it ... but I think if the last xx (I don't know what the # is) tries were all successful, it won't warn you unless it increases again.    That's why that drive has now changed to "OK" status.

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nobusAuthor Commented:
As usual, you've earned it fully !
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