95

I just installed several new HDDs in a machine and I happened to notice one of them had two errors reported, so I ran smartctl -x on it and got this:

smartctl 6.5 2016-01-24 r4214 [x86_64-linux-4.4.0-141-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-16, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family:     Hitachi/HGST Ultrastar 7K4000
Device Model:     HGST HUS724040ALA640
Serial Number:    [REDACTED]
LU WWN Device Id: [REDACTED]
Firmware Version: MFAOAC50
User Capacity:    4,000,787,030,016 bytes [4.00 TB]
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical
Rotation Rate:    7200 rpm
Form Factor:      3.5 inches
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   ATA8-ACS T13/1699-D revision 4
SATA Version is:  SATA 3.0, 6.0 Gb/s (current: 6.0 Gb/s)
Local Time is:    Tue Jan  1 05:33:21 2019 PST
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled
AAM feature is:   Unavailable
APM feature is:   Disabled
Rd look-ahead is: Enabled
Write cache is:   Enabled
ATA Security is:  Disabled, NOT FROZEN [SEC1]
Wt Cache Reorder: Enabled

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x82) Offline data collection activity
                    was completed without error.
                    Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
                    without error or no self-test has ever 
                    been run.
Total time to complete Offline 
data collection:        (   24) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:            (0x5b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                    Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                    Suspend Offline collection upon new
                    command.
                    Offline surface scan supported.
                    Self-test supported.
                    No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                    Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003) Saves SMART data before entering
                    power-saving mode.
                    Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
                    General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine 
recommended polling time:    (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:    ( 543) minutes.
SCT capabilities:          (0x003d) SCT Status supported.
                    SCT Error Recovery Control supported.
                    SCT Feature Control supported.
                    SCT Data Table supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 16
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAGS    VALUE WORST THRESH FAIL RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     PO-R--   100   100   016    -    0
  2 Throughput_Performance  P-S---   138   138   054    -    74
  3 Spin_Up_Time            POS---   100   100   024    -    572
  4 Start_Stop_Count        -O--C-   100   100   000    -    8
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   PO--CK   100   100   005    -    0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         PO-R--   100   100   067    -    0
  8 Seek_Time_Performance   P-S---   142   142   020    -    25
  9 Power_On_Hours          -O--C-   100   100   000    -    520
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        PO--C-   100   100   060    -    0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       -O--CK   100   100   000    -    8
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count -O--CK   100   100   000    -    16
193 Load_Cycle_Count        -O--C-   100   100   000    -    16
194 Temperature_Celsius     -O----   166   166   000    -    36 (Min/Max 22/56)
196 Reallocated_Event_Count -O--CK   100   100   000    -    0
197 Current_Pending_Sector  -O---K   100   100   000    -    0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   ---R--   100   100   000    -    0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    -O-R--   200   200   000    -    0
                            ||||||_ K auto-keep
                            |||||__ C event count
                            ||||___ R error rate
                            |||____ S speed/performance
                            ||_____ O updated online
                            |______ P prefailure warning

General Purpose Log Directory Version 1
SMART           Log Directory Version 1 [multi-sector log support]
Address    Access  R/W   Size  Description
0x00       GPL,SL  R/O      1  Log Directory
0x01           SL  R/O      1  Summary SMART error log
0x03       GPL     R/O      1  Ext. Comprehensive SMART error log
0x04       GPL     R/O      7  Device Statistics log
0x06           SL  R/O      1  SMART self-test log
0x07       GPL     R/O      1  Extended self-test log
0x08       GPL     R/O      2  Power Conditions log
0x09           SL  R/W      1  Selective self-test log
0x10       GPL     R/O      1  SATA NCQ Queued Error log
0x11       GPL     R/O      1  SATA Phy Event Counters log
0x20       GPL     R/O      1  Streaming performance log [OBS-8]
0x21       GPL     R/O      1  Write stream error log
0x22       GPL     R/O      1  Read stream error log
0x80-0x9f  GPL,SL  R/W     16  Host vendor specific log
0xe0       GPL,SL  R/W      1  SCT Command/Status
0xe1       GPL,SL  R/W      1  SCT Data Transfer

SMART Extended Comprehensive Error Log Version: 1 (1 sectors)
Device Error Count: 2
    CR     = Command Register
    FEATR  = Features Register
    COUNT  = Count (was: Sector Count) Register
    LBA_48 = Upper bytes of LBA High/Mid/Low Registers ]  ATA-8
    LH     = LBA High (was: Cylinder High) Register    ]   LBA
    LM     = LBA Mid (was: Cylinder Low) Register      ] Register
    LL     = LBA Low (was: Sector Number) Register     ]
    DV     = Device (was: Device/Head) Register
    DC     = Device Control Register
    ER     = Error register
    ST     = Status register
Powered_Up_Time is measured from power on, and printed as
DDd+hh:mm:SS.sss where DD=days, hh=hours, mm=minutes,
SS=sec, and sss=millisec. It "wraps" after 49.710 days.

Error 2 [1] occurred at disk power-on lifetime: 16878 hours (703 days + 6 hours)
  When the command that caused the error occurred, the device was active or idle.

  After command completion occurred, registers were:
  ER -- ST COUNT  LBA_48  LH LM LL DV DC
  -- -- -- == -- == == == -- -- -- -- --
  40 -- 51 00 0f 00 01 12 cd a0 31 02 00  Error: UNC at LBA = 0x112cda031 = 4610433073

  Commands leading to the command that caused the error were:
  CR FEATR COUNT  LBA_48  LH LM LL DV DC  Powered_Up_Time  Command/Feature_Name
  -- == -- == -- == == == -- -- -- -- --  ---------------  --------------------
  60 00 10 00 10 00 01 12 cd a0 30 40 00  1d+08:13:30.021  READ FPDMA QUEUED
  61 00 10 00 00 00 01 12 63 a0 30 40 00  1d+08:13:30.021  WRITE FPDMA QUEUED
  60 00 10 00 00 00 01 12 cc a0 30 40 00  1d+08:13:30.017  READ FPDMA QUEUED
  61 00 10 00 10 00 01 12 62 a0 30 40 00  1d+08:13:30.011  WRITE FPDMA QUEUED
  60 00 10 00 00 00 01 12 cb a0 30 40 00  1d+08:13:30.004  READ FPDMA QUEUED

Error 1 [0] occurred at disk power-on lifetime: 10610 hours (442 days + 2 hours)
  When the command that caused the error occurred, the device was active or idle.

  After command completion occurred, registers were:
  ER -- ST COUNT  LBA_48  LH LM LL DV DC
  -- -- -- == -- == == == -- -- -- -- --
  40 -- 51 01 34 00 01 12 f9 3a fc 02 00  Error: UNC at LBA = 0x112f93afc = 4613290748

  Commands leading to the command that caused the error were:
  CR FEATR COUNT  LBA_48  LH LM LL DV DC  Powered_Up_Time  Command/Feature_Name
  -- == -- == -- == == == -- -- -- -- --  ---------------  --------------------
  60 00 08 00 10 00 00 00 00 01 2c 40 00  2d+01:26:34.533  READ FPDMA QUEUED
  61 00 10 00 08 00 00 57 04 60 00 40 00  2d+01:26:33.675  WRITE FPDMA QUEUED
  60 02 00 00 00 00 01 12 f9 3a 30 40 00  2d+01:26:33.386  READ FPDMA QUEUED
  60 02 00 00 00 00 01 12 f9 38 30 40 00  2d+01:26:33.384  READ FPDMA QUEUED
  60 02 00 00 00 00 01 12 f9 36 30 40 00  2d+01:26:33.382  READ FPDMA QUEUED

SMART Extended Self-test Log Version: 1 (1 sectors)
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     26741         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
 SPAN  MIN_LBA  MAX_LBA  CURRENT_TEST_STATUS
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

SCT Status Version:                  3
SCT Version (vendor specific):       256 (0x0100)
SCT Support Level:                   1
Device State:                        Active (0)
Current Temperature:                    36 Celsius
Power Cycle Min/Max Temperature:     35/38 Celsius
Lifetime    Min/Max Temperature:     22/56 Celsius
Under/Over Temperature Limit Count:   0/0

SCT Temperature History Version:     2
Temperature Sampling Period:         1 minute
Temperature Logging Interval:        1 minute
Min/Max recommended Temperature:      0/60 Celsius
Min/Max Temperature Limit:           -40/70 Celsius
Temperature History Size (Index):    128 (43)

Index    Estimated Time   Temperature Celsius
  44    2019-01-01 03:26    37  ******************
 ...    ..( 15 skipped).    ..  ******************
  60    2019-01-01 03:42    37  ******************
  61    2019-01-01 03:43    36  *****************
 ...    ..( 20 skipped).    ..  *****************
  82    2019-01-01 04:04    36  *****************
  83    2019-01-01 04:05    35  ****************
 ...    ..(  2 skipped).    ..  ****************
  86    2019-01-01 04:08    35  ****************
  87    2019-01-01 04:09    36  *****************
  88    2019-01-01 04:10    36  *****************
  89    2019-01-01 04:11    35  ****************
 ...    ..( 40 skipped).    ..  ****************
   2    2019-01-01 04:52    35  ****************
   3    2019-01-01 04:53    36  *****************
 ...    ..(  4 skipped).    ..  *****************
   8    2019-01-01 04:58    36  *****************
   9    2019-01-01 04:59    37  ******************
 ...    ..( 30 skipped).    ..  ******************
  40    2019-01-01 05:30    37  ******************
  41    2019-01-01 05:31    36  *****************
  42    2019-01-01 05:32    36  *****************
  43    2019-01-01 05:33    36  *****************

SCT Error Recovery Control:
           Read: Disabled
          Write: Disabled

Device Statistics (GP Log 0x04)
Page  Offset Size        Value Flags Description
0x01  =====  =               =  ===  == General Statistics (rev 2) ==
0x01  0x008  4               8  ---  Lifetime Power-On Resets
0x01  0x018  6      1598892472  ---  Logical Sectors Written
0x01  0x020  6         1386302  ---  Number of Write Commands
0x01  0x028  6      3655763419  ---  Logical Sectors Read
0x01  0x030  6         7494155  ---  Number of Read Commands
0x03  =====  =               =  ===  == Rotating Media Statistics (rev 1) ==
0x03  0x008  4             520  ---  Spindle Motor Power-on Hours
0x03  0x010  4             520  ---  Head Flying Hours
0x03  0x018  4              16  ---  Head Load Events
0x03  0x020  4               0  ---  Number of Reallocated Logical Sectors
0x03  0x028  4               0  ---  Read Recovery Attempts
0x03  0x030  4               0  ---  Number of Mechanical Start Failures
0x04  =====  =               =  ===  == General Errors Statistics (rev 1) ==
0x04  0x008  4               0  ---  Number of Reported Uncorrectable Errors
0x04  0x010  4               0  ---  Resets Between Cmd Acceptance and Completion
0x05  =====  =               =  ===  == Temperature Statistics (rev 1) ==
0x05  0x008  1              37  ---  Current Temperature
0x05  0x010  1              35  N--  Average Short Term Temperature
0x05  0x018  1               -  N--  Average Long Term Temperature
0x05  0x020  1              56  ---  Highest Temperature
0x05  0x028  1              22  ---  Lowest Temperature
0x05  0x030  1              41  N--  Highest Average Short Term Temperature
0x05  0x038  1              25  N--  Lowest Average Short Term Temperature
0x05  0x040  1               -  N--  Highest Average Long Term Temperature
0x05  0x048  1               -  N--  Lowest Average Long Term Temperature
0x05  0x050  4               0  ---  Time in Over-Temperature
0x05  0x058  1              60  ---  Specified Maximum Operating Temperature
0x05  0x060  4               0  ---  Time in Under-Temperature
0x05  0x068  1               0  ---  Specified Minimum Operating Temperature
0x06  =====  =               =  ===  == Transport Statistics (rev 1) ==
0x06  0x008  4              60  ---  Number of Hardware Resets
0x06  0x010  4              13  ---  Number of ASR Events
0x06  0x018  4               0  ---  Number of Interface CRC Errors
                                |||_ C monitored condition met
                                ||__ D supports DSN
                                |___ N normalized value

SATA Phy Event Counters (GP Log 0x11)
ID      Size     Value  Description
0x0001  2            0  Command failed due to ICRC error
0x0002  2            0  R_ERR response for data FIS
0x0003  2            0  R_ERR response for device-to-host data FIS
0x0004  2            0  R_ERR response for host-to-device data FIS
0x0005  2            0  R_ERR response for non-data FIS
0x0006  2            0  R_ERR response for device-to-host non-data FIS
0x0007  2            0  R_ERR response for host-to-device non-data FIS
0x0009  2            1  Transition from drive PhyRdy to drive PhyNRdy
0x000a  2            2  Device-to-host register FISes sent due to a COMRESET
0x000b  2            0  CRC errors within host-to-device FIS
0x000d  2            0  Non-CRC errors within host-to-device FIS

As you can see, the drive's power-on hours are 520 (which is accurate, as I've had it for under a month), but the two errors say they occurred at 10610 hours and 16878 hours — obviously impossible.

What's happening here? Are the errors real? Worrisome? Could there be some kind of "odometer tampering" going on here by my vendor?


Update

(I would have had this much earlier, but HGST Western Digital :/ is really unhelpful (why do they give OEM drives serial numbers if they're not going to keep any info about them at all?), and slow to respond too.)

When I'd installed these, I had noticed that they didn't have the manufacture dates on the labels like my old ones had, but I just chalked that up to the maker not printing them any more and thought nothing more of it… till I saw Deltik's great answer. It hadn't occurred to me these would (or could effectively) be erased.

After my attempts to get official word from the manufacturer ('s new owner) failed, I pulled them all and sicced my flatbed scanner on 'em, at max settings. By doing the old zoom-and-enhance, I was able to spot evidence of each one having been erased. Here's one of the easier-to-read examples:

(Original 5717×8117px, 64.0MB .png omitted for mercy)

Reduced, redacted .jpg overview:

Reduced, redacted .jpg overview

Original resolution cropped .png of the scene of the crime (the upper-right corner of the label):

Original resolution cropped .png of the scene of the crime (the upper-right corner of the label)

The more eagle-eyed of you can probably already read it, but here's a rectangle of auto-levels:

a rectangle of auto-levels

So, yeah. All the drives have subtle markings remaining from this deliberate attempt to defraud, and they're all from March/April/May of 2015. Not quite what "new" means at the end of November 2018.

Additionally, as some of the other commenters are, I'm pretty shocked that SMART can be subverted like this. Isn't most of the point of it gone if it can be reset?

I'll be pursuing this further, believe you me. Watch this space.

  • 4
    Is that 16.8k hour time consistent with the manufacturing date on the sticker? Or would that error have been from before the drive was made? – Peter Cordes Jan 2 at 10:17
  • 1
    @PeterCordes, now that we can see the dates they tried to hide, they are indeed consistent. – Atario Jan 16 at 8:13
127
+200

I think that your suspicion of "odometer tampering" is correct, and it is possible. The recorded errors are likely real and definitely worrisome because they indicate bad sectors upon reading. The disk was likely wiped before making its way to you, so those bad sectors have probably been remapped.

Whoever sold you the hard drive reset the S.M.A.R.T. attributes to make it look like a new hard drive.


Anecdote

On 25 July 2015, I purchased six very similar hard drives from goHardDrive.com. When I checked all the disks, I experienced almost the exact same symptoms:

root@box52:~# smartctl -a /dev/sdb
smartctl 6.2 2013-07-26 r3841 [x86_64-linux-3.13.0-57-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-13, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family:     Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000
Device Model:     Hitachi HDS722020ALA330
Serial Number:    JK1101B9G7U8NF
LU WWN Device Id: 5 000cca 222c38d7e
Firmware Version: JKAOA3MA
User Capacity:    2,000,398,934,016 bytes [2.00 TB]
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical
Rotation Rate:    7200 rpm
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   ATA8-ACS T13/1699-D revision 4
SATA Version is:  SATA 2.6, 3.0 Gb/s
Local Time is:    Thu Jul 30 13:57:13 2015 CDT
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART STATUS RETURN: incomplete response, ATA output registers missing
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
Warning: This result is based on an Attribute check.

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x80) Offline data collection activity
                                        was never started.
                                        Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
                                        without error or no self-test has ever
                                        been run.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:                (23653) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:                    (0x5b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                                        Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                                        Suspend Offline collection upon new
                                        command.
                                        Offline surface scan supported.
                                        Self-test supported.
                                        No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                                        Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003) Saves SMART data before entering
                                        power-saving mode.
                                        Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
                                        General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:        ( 394) minutes.
SCT capabilities:              (0x003d) SCT Status supported.
                                        SCT Error Recovery Control supported.
                                        SCT Feature Control supported.
                                        SCT Data Table supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 16
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000b   100   100   016    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  2 Throughput_Performance  0x0005   100   100   054    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0007   100   100   024    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   005    Pre-fail  Always       -       2
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000b   100   100   067    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  8 Seek_Time_Performance   0x0005   100   100   020    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   060    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0002   206   206   000    Old_age   Always       -       29 (Min/Max 25/29)
196 Reallocated_Event_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       2
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0022   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0008   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x000a   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
ATA Error Count: 2
        CR = Command Register [HEX]
        FR = Features Register [HEX]
        SC = Sector Count Register [HEX]
        SN = Sector Number Register [HEX]
        CL = Cylinder Low Register [HEX]
        CH = Cylinder High Register [HEX]
        DH = Device/Head Register [HEX]
        DC = Device Command Register [HEX]
        ER = Error register [HEX]
        ST = Status register [HEX]
Powered_Up_Time is measured from power on, and printed as
DDd+hh:mm:SS.sss where DD=days, hh=hours, mm=minutes,
SS=sec, and sss=millisec. It "wraps" after 49.710 days.

Error 2 occurred at disk power-on lifetime: 31311 hours (1304 days + 15 hours)
  When the command that caused the error occurred, the device was active or idle.

  After command completion occurred, registers were:
  ER ST SC SN CL CH DH
  -- -- -- -- -- -- --
  40 51 ff 01 58 5d 08  Error: UNC 255 sectors at LBA = 0x085d5801 = 140335105

  Commands leading to the command that caused the error were:
  CR FR SC SN CL CH DH DC   Powered_Up_Time  Command/Feature_Name
  -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --  ----------------  --------------------
  25 00 00 00 58 5d 40 00   9d+05:13:00.528  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 57 5d 40 00   9d+05:12:59.801  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 56 5d 48 00   9d+05:12:59.797  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 55 5d 48 00   9d+05:12:59.794  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 54 5d 48 00   9d+05:12:59.789  READ DMA EXT

Error 1 occurred at disk power-on lifetime: 31243 hours (1301 days + 19 hours)
  When the command that caused the error occurred, the device was active or idle.

  After command completion occurred, registers were:
  ER ST SC SN CL CH DH
  -- -- -- -- -- -- --
  40 51 ff 01 58 5d 08  Error: UNC 255 sectors at LBA = 0x085d5801 = 140335105

  Commands leading to the command that caused the error were:
  CR FR SC SN CL CH DH DC   Powered_Up_Time  Command/Feature_Name
  -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --  ----------------  --------------------
  25 00 00 00 58 5d 40 00  41d+18:29:24.394  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 57 5d 48 00  41d+18:29:24.388  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 56 5d 40 00  41d+18:29:24.383  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 55 5d 40 00  41d+18:29:24.376  READ DMA EXT
  25 00 00 00 54 5d 40 00  41d+18:29:24.371  READ DMA EXT

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Short offline       Completed without error       00%         0         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
 SPAN  MIN_LBA  MAX_LBA  CURRENT_TEST_STATUS
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

If it weren't for the S.M.A.R.T. errors that they either forgot to erase or could not erase, I would have been convinced that the disks I bought were new.

Suspicious, I telephoned Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and learned that at least two of the disks had their warranties activated on 24 September 2010, almost five years before I bought them. The manufacturer's warranty expired 3 years later.

In my complaint to the seller, I wrote:

Erasing the S.M.A.R.T. attribute values is like zeroing the odometer in a car. A big problem with erasing the S.M.A.R.T. attributes is that end users like me have no way of identifying whether sectors have been reallocated. There could be anywhere from no reallocated sectors to all of the spare sectors reallocated. Considering that these drives are nearly five years old with over 73.7% of the time at least one of the drives was powered on, there are very likely remapped sectors that I don't know about.

goHardDrive.com has sold me at least one defective hard drive, has knowingly erased the operational history of all six hard drives, and did not reveal the used nature of any of the hard drives at the time of sale.

I also took a photograph of the hard drives:

Sketchy Hard Drives from goHardDrive.com – The hard drive at the bottom of the image is a reference drive.

The hard drive at the bottom of the image is a reference disk from the same manufacturer.

Notice that the reference disk has APR-2012 printed on it, showing when it was manufactured. The date of manufacture was removed from the six disks I bought, but not quite well enough. Look at the middle disk, where you can faintly make out AUG-2010.

This surely confirms the disks' history: I bought used hard drives that had their "odometers" reset.

In the end, the seller accepted my request for a return, and I sent back all of the disks for a full refund.

Be careful with what hard drives you buy! It's good that you checked them for residual signs of wear.

  • 34
    Oh, nice answer. I wasn't aware you could reset SMART attributes. I've never bought a second hand disk and now have no intentions of ever doing so :) – DavidPostill Jan 1 at 15:52
  • 31
    Presumably this behaviour also falls foul of trade laws, since what they did is basically misselling/fraud. Did you consider taking the matter further? – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 1 at 19:01
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    @DavidPostill: Apparently Deltik didn't have any intention of doing so either, but was a victim of fraud by a sketchy vendor. – R.. Jan 1 at 19:07
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    @Deltik I'm kind of concerned that this behaviour is probably continuing unreported, harming who knows how many honest consumers. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 1 at 20:12
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    My friend accidentally reformatted his "new" SD card and lost his Christmas pics - so I ran a recovery tool on it and recovered over 200 pictures of people we'd never seen before! Also beware SDRAM - the manufacturer ID is just stored in a serial PROM on the PCB and can be programmed to say anything - it becomes obvious if they miss-spell "Samsung" – Rodney Jan 2 at 12:43

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