Using Spinrite for burn-in testing on a new drive

I have a few questions related to testing a hard drive prior to placing it in the field and could use some enlightenment.

1a) How do you effectively use Spinrite to run a burn-in test on a new drive, ensuring that the drive is in working order and ready for use?

1b) Is there a better tool to use for question 1a other than Spinrite?

2a) How would I effectively use Spinrite (or another tool from question 1b) on older drives that have been in use for some time (in some cases, years) to ensure that the drive is still in good condition?

2b) Would running *any* kind of burn-in test such as the one proposed in question 2a damage the drive or remove or delete data from the drive?

The goal of questions 1 and 2 is to learn how to:
- test a new drive to be sure that it's ready to use and not defective in some way
- test an older drive that's been in use and has critical data on it without deleting any data on the drive.

Thanks you.
james_axtonAsked:
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lee555J5Commented:
I have used SpinRite, but not for that kind of testing.
1a. I would run it overnight in level 2 which just test each bit location and read the results screen the next morning. Large drives can take a while.
1b. IDK
2a. Same tool, same level
2b. Some could, but SpinRite says it will not.
Lee
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... 1a) How do you effectively use Spinrite to run a burn-in test on a new drive, ensuring that the drive is in working order and ready for use?   "   ==>  The higher the level, the more thorough the test.   I use Level 4 to thoroughly test new drives -- this does a much more thorough defect analysis than the lower levels  (Level 5 is essentially the same, but will also return previously flagged bad sectors to use if they pass -- not something I want to do).

"... 1b) Is there a better tool to use for question 1a other than Spinrite?  "  ==>  No.

"... 2a) How would I effectively use Spinrite (or another tool from question 1b) on older drives that have been in use for some time (in some cases, years) to ensure that the drive is still in good condition?  "  ==>  Simply run a Level 2 pass on the drive -- if it passes error-free it's fair to assume the drive is good.    If you want a more thorough analysis, use Level 4 ... but I just use Level 2 for older drives that I'm just checking for "add to my stash" or "trash" determinations -- if I later decide I'm going to use it in a system, I do a Level 4 check then.

"... 2b) Would running *any* kind of burn-in test such as the one proposed in question 2a damage the drive or remove or delete data from the drive?  "   ==>  "any" is a strong word :-)    For example, using Western Digital's Data Lifeguard diagnostics is "data safe" in most modes, but clearly is not if you run the "Write Zeros" test (which, as advertised, writes zeroes to all sectors).    But Spinrite does not alter the data UNLESS it detects a bad sector, in which case it will replace the data with what it can best determine should be there.

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nobusCommented:
Garycase answered msot, if not all hyour questions, but here my 2 cts :
i use HDD regenerator - which is nearly the same as spinrite - so it is another tool, yes, but better, i don't know.
for most burn-ins,  you can also use the write zero option to the whole drive, from the manufacturer's diag.
if you want alternating patterns you can even try DBAN - though that is not a diagnostic, or burnin software :
 http://dban.sourceforge.net/

for 2b -  i would say that there is always a possibility - IF the drive is not fully OK; i only mean with this, if it has a couple of damaged sectors, running any diag can cause the spreading  of that.  This means also that it is always best to have an image of the drive BEFORE starting to test.
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scrathcyboyCommented:
Sorry, but I don't trust spinrite and would NEVER use it, not even to save my dead grandmother.

Find the brand of the drive -- download their software to meticulously test the drive for sector errors and / or failures, and go by that.  No one knows the drives' features better than the people who make them.

As for Gibson at Spinrite, he is far out on another dimension, and I am sorry, but I would not rely on it.
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lee555J5Commented:
Wow, I thought you "dumped EE and its hassles and negativity," or so says your profile. It appears your colorful opinion was called out on this thread http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Hard_Drives/Q_25524341.html as well. I personally have used SpinRite at levels 2 and 4 several times with no damage to data. You "would NEVER use it", so how do you know not to "trust" it? Hans Reiser is a confessed and convicted murderer, but that does not make him a bad programmer; and to my knowledge, Steve Gibson has not been convicted of anything. Does that make him a bad programmer? HDD Regenerator does not appear to be manufacturer-specific either, yet you do not slam it or its creator. This simply makes you appear biased against Gibson and his work.
Much good can be said about each manufacturer's tools, but simply because Gibson does not work for a hard drive manufacturer does not mean SpinRite cannot do what the Asker needs safely.

Also, this has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with any of your relatives, dead OR alive; so it would serve this community better if you saved your vitriolic rhetoric and actually tried to help.
Lee
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
garycase - that's one of the best answers I've ever received.  Thank you!  I'd love to be able to follow-up with you on how you would recommend I proceed with an old drive that started to die (bad blocks).  Is that possible in EE?

nobus - thanks for posting here, I'm glad I finally get to give you some points.  One question - in your scenario, wouldn't imaging the drive cause as much damage as running the diagnostic would?

lee, thanks for defending Spinrite.  I've found it to be incredibly helpful since I started using it.    
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lee555J5Commented:
I did not intend to "defend" SpinRite or Steve Gibson. I have always had good results, and I consider it well written software. If you deal with computers for any length of time (and not just computers), things fail. I have had hard drives and monitors DOA. I have had them fail later. Basically, anything can fail. Software can fail. Anyone can be in that 1%, that unlucky group when something fails. That's life.
However, that does not justify the tone or words used above. His post would have been dead on the money without the first and last lines. :-)
Lee
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nobusCommented:
>>   wouldn't imaging the drive cause as much damage as running the diagnostic would?   <<  it depends on the kind of problem of the disk; but if you have an image (it's a 1x pass over all sectors) you at least have the data, while running the diag can also ruin the disk - and then you don't havethe data. (of course, you only know that the image can be made AFTER running it, it can also stop midway thru)
if the diag is able to repair - then there is no problem using either imo; but if the damage is a scratched section of the disk - it will spread in any case.
 
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james_axtonAuthor Commented:
Thanks to everyone for their help with this question!  I'm going to split the points as best as I possibly can.
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