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I have a dell e1505 (inspiron 6400 I think) with many many problems. Its screen broke (twice), USB has mostly stopped working, the sound card seems to occasionally freeze the computer, and I thought it had HDD problems.

I believed this since programs in ubuntu would freeze (and gnome would gray them out) for often 20-60 seconds at a time periodically (and this got increasingly frequent). By the time I finally got a new computer, processes would often freeze one by one and stay frozen for minutes (both in XP and Ubuntu). Once recently, when booting up, ubuntu's disk-checker warned me of many corruptions and problems with my HDD and I chose to repair all the filesystem problems. So I'm pretty convinced the HDD is going bad.

Now, I'd like to turn this laptop into a server for random stuff. I figure the USB, sound, and LCD problems wont effect a server, so I'll just buy a new HDD on newegg for $40 and be on my way. I just today ran memtest86+ and it shows no memory errors, good, but I also ran e2fsck -n -f -v and it shows no bad blocks. I don't want a server that freezes up for minutes at a time, but I also don't want to shell out $40 for a new HDD when the problem lies elsewhere.

I just ran e2fsck -n -f -v -c and it printed a number of errors halfway through and says there are 2 bad blocks (out of millions).

My questions:

  • Is this a bad harddrive? What else can I try to test the harddrive and see if it is bad?
  • Is there anything else I should be testing that could have been the source of the poor performance?


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up vote 0 down vote accepted

Try monitoring the HDD with smartmon - more information here

This will actually check the HDD firmware to report on things like bad sectors, temperatures, etc. This has saved me a couple of times, letting me know that the HD was having problems.

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I just ran "smartctl -a /dev/sda1" after installing UbuntuServer over my entire HDD. It says it "passed" but also says there are 24 errors. Is this a bad drive? If I can be 90% sure it wont fail anytime soon, that is just fine. This is just a server for playing around with, nothing too critical. – user28960 Feb 22 '10 at 3:35
It sounds like a drive going bad. Firmware should remap bad sectors into spares; and as long as there are spares available you should be OK. Monitor the errors, and if you notice the number of errors increasing, it's probably time for a new drive. – chris Feb 22 '10 at 12:58
Okay, thanks for the advice. – user28960 Feb 22 '10 at 19:36

If I were you I would run Spinrite on the machine. It will find any HDD problems and most likely fix them too. Or if you have a Windows live CD try running HDtune (which is free).

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