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Thread: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

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    New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    So my HPTC runs 24/7 as a TV recorder and media server and my trusty seagate 5920rpm 4TB drive has done its full service I would say.

    Interestingly it has slowly been gaining reallocated sectors over the last 2.5 years starting with 8, then 16 and recently 48 (more than 8 months separation between each jump). Usually when I see hard drives dying this racks up quickly were this does feel more like old age creeping in without an impeding doom (even crystaldiskinfo says caution rather than bad). Likewise drives do have spare sectors to be used so why not use a few.

    Its current power on hours is 63018 (over 7 years) with a power on count of 412 (weekly restart).

    Now most of the data is non essential (tv recordings) and anything important is backed up elsewhere.

    It seems 4tb drives are more expensive than they were 7 years ago so I am hoping something will pop up in black friday.

    Would I be mad to keep this drive as a backup drive used occasionally to backup the new drive as there isn't a current full backup, on the basis of a dodgy backup is better than no backup, but also if powered down mostly with limited operations when in use there is no reason the drive will go over the cliff any time soon (back to non essential but desirable backup). A quick google gives the general response one reallocated sector equals impeding doom, backup all data immediately and smash and burn the drive.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    "Would I be mad to keep this drive as a backup drive used occasionally to backup the new drive as there isn't a current full backup, on the basis of a dodgy backup is better than no backup"

    It's not that you'd be mad, it's more to do with the fact that 1, it isn't a backup and 2/ unlikely to be a reliable secondary host of data.

    If you don't need a proper backup, then keeping it will do no harm. If you DO want a backup, then it wouldn't be suitable,
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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Percy1983 View Post
    ....

    Would I be mad to keep this drive as a backup drive used occasionally to backup the new drive as there isn't a current full backup, on the basis of a dodgy backup is better than no backup, but also if powered down mostly with limited operations when in use there is no reason the drive will go over the cliff any time soon (back to non essential but desirable backup). A quick google gives the general response one reallocated sector equals impeding doom, backup all data immediately and smash and burn the drive.
    In my opinion, no you wouldn't. With a caveat or two, it's not a bad idea.

    Backing up large media collections (when you get into multi-TB amounts) isn't cheap, or easy. I've looked at all sorts, including LTO drives, online storage etc .... but at around £2k or more for the LTO drive itself, let alone tapes .... erm, it's not for me, to back up my movies and CD/LP collection, thanks. As a business backup, yes. For me, domestically? Nope.

    About the only viable option, really, is HD and I think they're STILL a pretty good price/TB ratio, and can reasonably be expected to last pretty well into the future .... but not indefinitely.

    Caveats :-

    - at 7+ years, that drive is certainly tending towards when I'd expect problems. It's done pretty well already.
    - do not (and I mean DO NOT) rely on a 'backup' on that for anything you aren't prepared to lose.
    - be aware that for electromechanical devices there tend to be two reasons for failure :-

    a) wear and tear from use, like rotational wear, head damage etc for HDs), and
    b) the stresses and strains, both electrically and mechanically, of start-up.

    For an elderly drive, you're pretty safe, up to a point, on cause a) but be very, VERY wary about b).

    No, it should suffer (much) from 'bit-rot' if not in use, but if you load up that drive and stick it in a cupboard for x years, don't be too surprised if it won't even start at all if you then try to kick it into life. Hint, if something has 'stuck' through extended periods of disuse, a medium-firm sharp tap MIGHT free it up. Or it might kill it entirely.

    In short, using old drives as 'backups' like that isn't (IMHO) a silly idea, no, BUT I'd strongly recommend finding (buying if need be) two or three of them at least, and cycling through them. Every few months (exact time depends on how fast your dataload is growing), "archive" your live data, cycle though the older copies giving each drive a workout, with the oldest copy droppinng off the end.

    Oh, and a USB-powered "dock" that you can just plug a bare drive into is a good mechanism. Don't keep these "backups" in your PC where, for ezample, a mains spike or PSU having a conniption fit, could fry them all. invest another few quid in some hard 'clamshell' protective cases for the backup drives, as shock protection.

    Design AND USE a written log of what you saved where, and when. And keep it with the drives. And a fireproof safe isn't daft, either.

    Quite how far you go with that depends on what your data means to you. In my case, I could rebuild the vast bulk of it from the CD, LP or DVD originals but, I shudder at the amount of time it would take me to do it. In hours, it'd certainly be hundreds, if not more .... 'cos it was first time around. Facing that again, I doubt I would even start. Therefore, I stumped up the relatively modest money for the requisite hard drives .... and still came out ahead of LTO tape.
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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Goes with my thoughts, keeping the old drive as a unessential backup would be ok and if it fails there is no problem, ie right now if the drive failed I have a backup of the music and photos, the tv recordings and downloads will be lost. So to keep a backup would just mean not losing 100s of TV recordings my wife might want to watch eventually.

    By all means on my work machine completed work is kept on the pc, a full system backup (external) and a completed work backup (external), current work also has the same with a different current backup drive.

    I can confirm bit rot is real as I have detected and corrected it, it has appeared on all 4 of the drives at different times but having the data in 3 places always as me covered.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    It all comes down to hw much losing the data would hurt v. how much time, inconvenience, cost or some blend of all three, it'll cost to back it up.

    For data in the "rather not lose it but if I do? Oh, well." category, the old drive is fine (IMHO), at least for a while. Though, it's more a case of "when" you lose it, than "if". Hopefully, by the time that "when" rolls round, you've already migrated to the next drive to get semi-retired.

    And if you haven't .... "oh well."
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Yep I think this definitely fits the "oh well" category.

    All being well the replacement hard drive will have a similar life and no sudden catastrophic failure but if it is the case having a backup which at most is 7 days old for the non essentials and may fail in its on right is better than no backup.

    Interestingly I have an old SSD I am trying to wear out and its just not having it (crystal disk info shows 51% life left), its a crucial M4 64gb, I think it has contributed massive to the hard drive surviving this long as it is now the timeshift buffer so whenever we are watching tv its recording a temp file for rewinding/fast forwarding, that is a lot of wear and tear which would have ended up on my hard drive in a default config. I could run it on the boot ssd (now NVME) but why wear them out when this is fast and big enough and literally no loss when it dies. Funny to say it started out as a cache on a boot raid array when I got my i5 3570k (using IRST).

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Percy1983 View Post
    Yep I think this definitely fits the "oh well" category.

    All being well the replacement hard drive will have a similar life and no sudden catastrophic failure but if it is the case having a backup which at most is 7 days old for the non essentials and may fail in its on right is better than no backup.

    Interestingly I have an old SSD I am trying to wear out and its just not having it (crystal disk info shows 51% life left), its a crucial M4 64gb, I think it has contributed massive to the hard drive surviving this long as it is now the timeshift buffer so whenever we are watching tv its recording a temp file for rewinding/fast forwarding, that is a lot of wear and tear which would have ended up on my hard drive in a default config. I could run it on the boot ssd (now NVME) but why wear them out when this is fast and big enough and literally no loss when it dies. Funny to say it started out as a cache on a boot raid array when I got my i5 3570k (using IRST).
    I've found, over the years (going off topic a bit) that puttig a fair bit of thought into quite how I structure where I store my data in the first place, is important.

    Most of it ends up on the NAS, and some is stored there directly. But, some of it needs to be local, on the laptop, for when I'm not connected to the NAS (and I don't 'remote' in, that's all disabled for security reasons).

    I do store some on the laptop in directories "sync'd" to the NAS, by a little tool that sync's to the NAS immediately I save/update a file, or when i reconnect to the LAN if I wasn't when I saved.

    The laptop and other PCs are also backed up (by Macrium Reflect) on a schedule, and the NAS backed up, well, that gets complicated.

    I try to categorise the type of data, both by how often it changes and how important it is. Fortunately the "really, REALLY important" category has shrunk, now that I'm retired, and have been fr ling enough that even HMRC can't come after me. Goodbye old accounting records. Yay!

    Some data, like old family photos, genealogical data, etc, is sentimentally important but pretty static. I add to it periodically but ost of what's there doesn't change, just gets added to. That I categorise as "archive".

    Some stuff I don't want long-term, like game saves. if I lose it, oh well. I'll maybe replay the game or more likely, not. So it isn't backed up at all.

    Some data is important and pretty sensitive. That is mostly stored entirely offline. When I need it, I'll plug the necessary device(s) in. For instance, banking stuff, legal documents, medical files and so on. I don't want that on the NAS, even encrypted.

    And so on.

    If you don't think quie carefully about that sort of thing, when deciding where are how to back up, it can be a nightmare to get right later.

    So for instance certain directories are excluded from an otherwise "full" backup either of PCs to the NAS, or the NAS to the NAS backup.

    it's quite a chore sortig all this out, because there are several caegories of backup 'priority', like critical but private, backup comstantly, and 'don't much care'.

    Organising where you save data initially can make that far easier or far harder. I find that one size definitely doesn't fit all. I used to save largely by application type, i.e. WP files here, spreadsheet there, PDFs yet somewhere else. But, too often, a given type of data (like financial, or legal, medical, shopping, etc) will involve a mixed bag of file types and having it spread over a dir for WP, another for spreadsheets and so on makes little real sense. Now, my legal files, with one backup priority, are in a Legal directory, whatever the file type, broken down by specific legal issue, like wills in one, house stuff in another. And so on. It makes a good backup strategy far easier if you organise data with that in mind but it also has to suit standard usage, like finding it when you want it.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Percy1983 View Post
    Likewise drives do have spare sectors to be used so why not use a few.
    Sort of.

    I don't think sectors on a hard drive can actually wear out through normal use. Reading and writing are non contact, I've never heard of a mechanism where writing cause wear on the magnetic media. I've worked on big storage servers where the drives are working flat out 24/7, and that's fine they just don't care.

    What tends to happen is some knock either during operation (or even during transit) crashes the head into the media and that scrapes some material off the top. The worry is that such material can cause collisions and further head crashes.

    So if a HDD has increasing reallocated sectors, they can suddenly snowball. That, and after 7 years the bearings are probably on their way out. By all means archive it, but I wouldn't rely on the thing.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    Sort of.

    I don't think sectors on a hard drive can actually wear out through normal use. Reading and writing are non contact, I've never heard of a mechanism where writing cause wear on the magnetic media. I've worked on big storage servers where the drives are working flat out 24/7, and that's fine they just don't care.

    What tends to happen is some knock either during operation (or even during transit) crashes the head into the media and that scrapes some material off the top. The worry is that such material can cause collisions and further head crashes.

    So if a HDD has increasing reallocated sectors, they can suddenly snowball. That, and after 7 years the bearings are probably on their way out. By all means archive it, but I wouldn't rely on the thing.
    I am checking on a regular basis and no snowball yet but do recognise a sudden increase as a 'about to die' symptom. as it is being a HTPC it never moves and the sits on rubber feet.

    As it is nothing appeared black friday at a great price so keeping my ear to the ground. Seem there where some offers but all on the 8tb+ range, so while I want a 'cheap' 4tb drive the better value is in bigger drives but its not better value if you don't need it. In short whatever size I get Tv recordings will eventually fill it and start deleting old programs.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Percy1983 View Post
    As it is nothing appeared black friday at a great price so keeping my ear to the ground. Seem there where some offers but all on the 8tb+ range, so while I want a 'cheap' 4tb drive the better value is in bigger drives but its not better value if you don't need it. In short whatever size I get Tv recordings will eventually fill it and start deleting old programs.
    I'm sort of in the same boat, in that I have a couple of cameras around the house being recorded by ZoneMinder which records constantly to HDD. That's actually a virtual machine on the house server, which has a pair of 4TB HDD in a RAID1 mirror. GIven my storage requirements aren't that large, and SSDs are generally getting bigger and better, I suspect next time instead of going up in capacity I will get a couple of high DWPD SSDs such as Seagate FireCuda drives instead.

    Our server is also in a nice old HTPC case with rubber feet and rubber hdd mounts, but that rubber is getting a bit old and I wince every time the Roomba slams into the cabinet it is housed in Shouting near a HDD can slow it down with errors, that thump has got to be noticed!

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Just as an update the drive is still holding at 48 sectors but I have finally found a replacement and got a recertified 4TB seagate drive for £43.

    Some say recertified is better than new, but either way its less than the cost of many used drives.

    Just got to hope it arrives safely now.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    HDD prices seem to have held up for many years now. Not dropped like they used to.


    I know the data is unimportant but when you come to move the data from the old disk, that's when things might start to get worse.
    I would transfer it in smaller chunks rather than trying to do the whole lot in one go. In my experience of repairing computers all those years ago the disks either start overheating and give terrible transfer speeds, or the sectors die out with a heavier workload and the disk can become unreadable either permanently or temporarily.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Regarding your decision to keep the old drive as a backup, it's understandable given the non-essential nature of the data stored on it. Your awareness of the potential risks, such as the increasing reallocated sectors and the age of the drive, shows a proactive mindset towards data preservation.

    It's wise to consider the value proposition of larger drives versus your actual storage needs. While Black Friday deals may not have been ideal for your situation, finding a recertified 4TB Seagate drive at a reasonable price is a great solution. Just remember to handle the data transfer with care, perhaps in smaller batches, to minimize potential issues with the aging drive.

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    Re: New Hard Drive for HTPC. Slow gain in relallocated sectors

    Good news the replacement drive arrive safely and well packaged, has a DOM of December 2023. So in short a new 4TB drive for £43.

    Did the data copy slowly in chunks over a day and the old drive is still fine (held at 48 reallocated sectors). It now holds a backup as of yesterday, I will reconnect it and update occasionally.

  17. Received thanks from:

    AGTDenton (24-03-2024)

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