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How to tell if hard drives are good?

Posted on 2010-09-09
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Last Modified: 2013-12-01
I have a stack of hard drives that I need to go through. I am trying to find the ones that are good enough to be used as replacement drives for drives that fail.
My question is how do you tell if a drive is good enough to be used?
I currently am using the "mkntfs /dev/sdc1" command in linux to do a full format of the drive in ntfs and initialize the device with zeros.
If that succeeds, does that mean that the drive is good enough to be used? Or is there a better way to test a hard drive?
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Question by:Ingram2
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19 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:edwarneke
ID: 33639306
Most HD manufacturers have diagnostic applications that you can download from their website to determine the health of your drives.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:compaqus
ID: 33639307
On the ultimate boot cd you have specific tools from HDD makers and you can test the drive (spin up, spin down, writing reading etc)

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:AMIB
ID: 33639379
Beside software tests,
You should install HDD and listen to it !
If it sounds alot while doing the tests, It's not safe to use it.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:athomsfere
ID: 33639487
Speedfan can also report SMART health. As well as give you its expected use of the drive (For example it can tell you how long the drive has been in use (3.2 years of on time).

Its not exact, but if you can format, and SMART reports healthy most likely you are OK to use that drive.
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Expert Comment

by:Lukasz Chmielewski
ID: 33639574
As always I'd recommend HDD regenerator.
http://www.dposoft.net/
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Expert Comment

by:mccracky
ID: 33639592
As has been mentioned, the HDD manufacturers have diagnostics which would probably be best.  Also, since you are already in Linux, I'd install (if not there already) smartmontools and use it to test the drive.  Here is a page (from ubuntu, but if you're using another distro, it should be similar) on how to do the testing:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Smartmontools

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Expert Comment

by:mccracky
ID: 33639609
my above comment assumes the disks are recent enough to have S.M.A.R.T. capability.  If not, you're basically left with the HDD manufacturer's diagnostics.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33639803
compaqus, that was a bad link you posted for H*** CD. Moderator will remove that post cause that CD contains pirated software.
As for the question itself, there are several tools such as MHDD, Victoria, Spinrite that can give you answer to question: good or bad?
If you want something specific then find HDD tools for each HDD made by HDD exact vendor. Usually all of them have such tools on official web sites in Support section.
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Expert Comment

by:compaqus
ID: 33639937
@ noxcho

as you can clearly see on the side of each software included there is the license type, freeware or gpl.

there is nothing pirated there!
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Expert Comment

by:compaqus
ID: 33640008
yeah, last time i have used H.... there was no mini nothing...

however all the hdd tools are free.
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Expert Comment

by:ComputerTechie
ID: 33640075

I agree with noxcbo spinrite is one of the few void hardrive checkers out there.

CT
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33641697
compagus, I've noticed at least three tools that are pirated. One of them is miniXP.
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Author Comment

by:Ingram2
ID: 33642086
I'll definitely be checking out smartmontools, but does anybody know if the method I am currently using is sufficient for detecting bad drives?
mkntfs initializes the drive with zeros and formats it with ntfs. It takes about 30 minutes for a 500GB drive.
If it succeeds, would that typically mean that there is nothing detectable wrong with the drive?
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LVL 47

Assisted Solution

by:noxcho
noxcho earned 125 total points
ID: 33642222
The command you use will only format the drive but not perform complete test to HDD including so called acoustic tests. These advanced tests are available in tools made by vendor.
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Expert Comment

by:mccracky
ID: 33642237
I don't think I would say that.  If there are bad sectors, the format will usually just skip them and format around them, IIRC.  I'd use something more thorough like smartmontools or the manufacturers' tools.

But, you throw your dice....
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Accepted Solution

by:
compaqus earned 125 total points
ID: 33642699
mkntfs does not stress out the hdd, it only writes on it. You need to stress out the drive and that is not done by simply writing something.
the best free bet it the manufacturers diagnostic tool. Then you've got spinrite as other users recommended.

but anyways, since the drives are so cheap these days, I would not use it for anything critical.
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LVL 2

Author Comment

by:Ingram2
ID: 33643010
Thanks for all the replies.
I will definitely be using some of these tools listed to test the hard drives now that I know mkntfs is not a sufficient stress tester.  
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:compaqus
ID: 33643247
yes, I have agreed with noxcho, I never saw the "mini" thing there. I don't have a habit of recommending people illegal stuff.
thanks.
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