Since a couple days, my Seagate Momentus 7200.4 has been failing more and more, possibly because of a power outage. After the "WARNING: Your hard drive is failing" (I'm using fedora), the main symptom was the slowness: constant 100 % CPU wait for hours, almost impossible to do anything. I made a backup, then I restarted and I had to do an e2fsck -y (lots of output), which I had to repeat later (didn't even boot at some point, kernel panic), I did some smartctl tests long and short, I left it alone for a night to its sector correcting or whatever.

Now the number of errors accumulating seems lower and the computer is mostly usable, but what should I do: is there some fsck command with better effects, or some other way to make it skip the bad sectors and keep functioning, other than fixing the sectors one by one with hdparm? Or is the drive surely to be trashed?

Excerpts from smartctl -x /dev/sda :

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     POSR--   085   074   006    -    243348742
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   PO--CK   100   100   036    -    0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         POSR--   084   060   030    -    238612361
  9 Power_On_Hours          -O--CK   087   087   000    -    11535
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   ----C-   100   100   000    -    8
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    -OSRCK   200   200   000    -    0
240 Head_Flying_Hours       ------   100   253   000    -    132680129719553
241 Total_LBAs_Written      ------   100   253   000    -    2525013242
242 Total_LBAs_Read         ------   100   253   000    -    2162196433

Error 3759 [18] occurred at disk power-on lifetime: 11535 hours (480 days + 15 hours)
  When the command that caused the error occurred, the device was active or idle.

  After command completion occurred, registers were:
  -- -- -- == -- == == == -- -- -- -- --
  40 -- 51 00 00 00 22 7e 00 3d 2a 00 00  Error: UNC at LBA = 0x227e003d2a = 148142832938

  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 00 00 08 00 22 7e 00 3d 28 40 00     18:38:24.892  READ FPDMA QUEUED
  27 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 e0 00     18:38:24.891  READ NATIVE MAX ADDRESS EXT [OBS-ACS-3]
  ec 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 a0 00     18:38:24.889  IDENTIFY DEVICE
  ef 00 03 00 46 00 00 00 00 00 00 a0 00     18:38:24.889  SET FEATURES [Set transfer mode]
  27 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 e0 00     18:38:24.889  READ NATIVE MAX ADDRESS EXT [OBS-ACS-3]

SMART Extended Self-test Log Version: 1 (1 sectors)
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Extended offline    Completed: read failure       90%     11528         574443398

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Update: as you said the disk is to be trashed already, I did dmesg | grep -oE "sector.+$" | sort -u and I sudo hdparm --write-sector --yes-i-know-what-i-am-doing 'd a dozen sectors. Now running another test, let's see what comes out of it.

Update 2: I had to fix some more bad sectors with hdparm manually but, a night later, all the errors I find in the system log seem to have successfully auto-corrected as they should normally. I encountered some funny errors in the meanwhile, like distorted sound à la techno music and grep freaking out, but a yum update may have sufficed to repair them. The last smartctl -a /dev/sda completed without errors; I now have "ATA Error Count: 5004", 2 for 197 Current_Pending_Sector and 198 Offline_Uncorrectable.

Update 3: the system is mostly usable, but the problems persist: "ATA Error Count: 9484". I sometimes have to use the hdparm trick, but I think it's not working properly because the problem later appears on the following sector. Offline_Uncorrectable is not growing, so I suspect the disk is failing to deactivate bad sectors. I guess I have to give up and buy a new one...

  • 3
    The performance and errors will continue until the drive completely fails. Back up your data and look for a new drive. – Panther Jan 17 '14 at 22:51
  • What's the mystery? Back up your data and replace the drive. Then restore your data. – joeqwerty Jan 17 '14 at 23:38
  • No mystery, but it is/was not as obvious as other disk failures I've seen and I'm not able to really judge those SMART values. I'd like to explore alternatives to trashing the disk, it's only 17 months old. – Nemo Jan 18 '14 at 19:15

Hopefully all of your data is backed up?

If not, get a new disk ASAP, one at least as large as the old and start a local backup.

In my experience it is much easier to replace the disk sooner rather than later.

However, if you have the cash, you might want to invest in a copy of Spinrite. Get that running on the disk - it may take days or even weeks in extreme cases. It can't always recover the disk but it does it surprisingly often. Indeed it will regularly bring disks back from the brink, I've had it resurrect a couple of laptops already. In one case, it recovered the disk to a point where it is still in use over 12 months later. In the other case, it recovered the majority of the data, enough to be able to do a more leisurely rebuild. It is around USD90 though so not cheap. If the errors were caused by a power blip from your machine, Spinrite will probably fix things up fine. If not, it will show you how bad things are & may buy you enough time to copy to another disk.

By the way, bad sectors should be marked automatically by the firmware in the disk, you shouldn't be messing with them. Interestingly, the exercise that Spinrite puts a disk through will quite often reset bad sectors as they may have been marked due to inconsistent head movement rather than disk failure.

By the way, as a number of researchers have discovered, the SMART warnings are pretty useless as they are not a good predictor of disk failure. Google did a large study on the matter.

  • Interesting. Useful if your data got lost and even rather cheap for that if works as advertised, but I don't have data to recover and it would cost more than the disk's value. – Nemo Jan 18 '14 at 19:17

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