I'm using S.M.A.R.T. to check my hard drives, I recently purchased a used WD Caviar Blue 2.5" and I've noticed that the Load_Cycle_Count has already exceeded the 300k mark, which is the maximum that the company Western Digital says it can sustain.

So I'm wondering, so far the drive is working fine, except as I'm using Ubuntu it is increasing the Load_Cycle_Count extremely fast because of the log and other stuff. So far I haven't found a solution to the problem, I'm looking forward to flashing the hard drive and changing the load/unload idle time from 5 seconds to 300 seconds, the solution I currently found is to keep seeding my torrents. Is this a good idea?

Anyways, how much can my new laptop's hard drive hypothetically sustain if I keep using it, without turning off the machine too much and seeding torrents?

6 Answers 6


Most newer hard drives are good for 600,000 load cycles. In practice, you can usually do more, but the risk of hard drive failure is significantly increased. The reason for this is that continued wear to the head parking mechanism could eventually result in damage to and failure of the read/write heads themselves.

Turning off APM will stop the repeated load/unload cycles, at the cost of increased heat and power consumption. The following comes from my answer to the Server Fault question "Is my Hard Drive Failing?":

[...] This is typically caused by the Advanced Power Management (APM) feature, which tries to conserve power by parking the heads (unloading them from the platters) after several seconds of idle. The heads are loaded back onto the platters when needed. On most systems, where hard drives get intermittent, on-and-off activity, this can cause lots of load/unload cycles to occur. To turn APM off, run the following command at a root prompt:

smartctl -s apm,off /dev/sda

This command will need to be run each time the system is power-cycled or put to sleep or the drive is otherwise powered off, as this setting is not retained when the drive is turned off.

In my experience, doing this will dramatically reduce the number of load/unload cycles and consequently the chances you'll experience this sort of failure again in the future. Do note, however, that doing this increases power consumption and drive temperature. If the drive constantly runs at temperatures in excess of 50 °C, the risk of premature failure is increased, so you may want to leave APM on (or turn it on if it is off) during the warmer months.

  • > If the drive constantly runs at temperatures in excess of 50 °C, the risk of premature failure is increased, so you may want to leave APM on (or turn it on if it is off) during the warmer months. ---- Or, you could just add a hard drive fan. That works better for the hard drive lifespan.
    – Alex
    Apr 25, 2015 at 21:11
  • And how it is possible to read the exact numbers under Windows? I tried 3 programs so far, but all of them gives a number under 100, so I guess it is %, which should not fall under a threshold.
    – inf3rno
    Nov 18, 2016 at 14:04
  • @inf3rno: I use CrystalDiskInfo to get S.M.A.R.T. data under Windows. The exact value is listed in the Raw Values column in the S.M.A.R.T. attributes table.
    – bwDraco
    Nov 20, 2016 at 2:30
  • Very helpful answer. I was concerned with the temperature, as it's going to over 47~49 C easily. APM was turned off, now I turned this on and surprisingly the temp is decreasing! Does value of APM has any significance in this case? Does higher value mean frequent unload?
    – Anwar
    Mar 21, 2017 at 6:54

I use the Blue 1TB HDD in a server, running since about 4 years 24/7 and till now it has 4,5 million Load Cycle Counts! No problems till now! I'll let it run until it starts to fail.

  • 1
    However, this is really an exception (server hard drive) than a rule. In my experience 500k seems to be the maximal "safe" figure; anything more, and there is an increasing risk of failure.
    – Alex
    Apr 25, 2015 at 21:09

I currently have a couple of old WD20EARS disks that reached over 2 million load/unload cycles. Still work round the clock in RAID.

This parameter is not the only indicator.

WD Black/Red series will probably live longer than WD Blue/Green but it's not entirely due to a different firmware settings, but build quality.


Try to look at the Load_Cycle_Count of the same HDDs probed in the http://linux-hardware.org/ database.

You can probe your computer and follow the link near the device on the probe page (like this) to list all probes of the same HDD or try to look for the device using the search engine.

You can find the Load_Cycle_Count in the Smartctl log of the probe (like this).


Stablebit scanner reports that up to 600k is the upper limit before you should be concerned. I've got a Seagate 2TB and it reports 900k load cycles. It keeps making the head parking sound while doing nothing but this has been going on since April 2020. We're in May 2022 and it still hasn't failed. I'll update as well.


Many sensible answers here. An addition. I have many older drives (Western Digital and Seagate) that have far exceeded expected life. I do however concur with the risk in doing so - failures when they happen tend to be fast and catastrophic.

To still make good use of them with such risk they get used in a couple of NAS and server boxes with RAID2 (mirroring) or RAID5 (striped across 3 or more).

See screen shots – the numbers speak for themselves (11 million load cycles, 84,000 hours). Though notable in this NAS is that 3x have previously failed and were replaced a while ago.

SMART data for one of the older ones.

6x RAID NASS with 3x old drives in this category

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