After experiencing slow copying from an 2.5" USB hard drive, I copied off all data, except for a few files which were unreadable, and then deleted and recreate the partition, and quick formatted the drive under Windows XP without error. However, the SMART status on the drive indicates a "read error". Both the short and long SMART tests abort after a few percent and report a "read error". I am now doing a full format on the drive. After a long (about half way through the format), the drive light stopped flashing, but the format did not abort. I canceled it and successfully completed a quick format again.
I would like to understand why the drive can be formatted successfully if it appears that the drive is about to fail or is unusable? If the SMART tests abort with an error, how can the drive still be formatted? This answer suggests that SMART is not so smart; does it work the other way around though -- a drive which SMART thinks is bad is actually not bad?
I presume I should use this drive as a door-stop or paper-weight? It's a few years old, but has not had very much use. It has been carefully looked after and is supplied in it's own "shock resistant" enclosure.
smartctl -H under Debian sid shows "PASSED".
badblocks (default read-only mode) has run for ~75 minutes and is 45% complete. It has found 4 read-errors.
Edit: I stopped
badblocks and noted the numbers of the four bad blocks. I then ran it again with
-n just before the bad blocks and let it run over them. I repeated this with the destructive write (just the first pattern) and let it run over the area again. I then tested in read-only mode and the blocks were not detected as bad. I returned to
palimpsest and refreshed the SMART data, which now reported the drive as healthy. I repeated the short self-test in
palimpsest which I had done before, and now it did not abort, but completed and reported that the disk is healthy. Possibly writing to those bad blocks forced the drive to find the problem and swap the bad blocks out.