problems with Hitachi 1TB SATA drives

Jeremy Chadwick koitsu at
Tue Jul 24 18:26:04 UTC 2007

On Tue, Jul 24, 2007 at 12:30:49PM -0500, Josh Paetzel wrote:
> I don't have any experience with the Hitachi 1TB SATA drives, but I 
> know an outfit that was trying out the Seagate 1TB drives and had 8 
> out of 12 fail their burn-in (a 3 day torture test)  My luck with 
> consumer SATA drives has been incredibly dismal, with ~40 of them in 
> service I see multiple failures a year, including drives being DOA 
> and dying after a few weeks of service.  I wouldn't be at all 
> surprised if one or both of the drives was bad right out of the box.  
> It could be something else of course, but don't discount the fact 
> that they could be bad from your troubleshooting just because they 
> are new.

This is good advice, and I considered including it in my (long) previous
Email.  I removed it at the last minute, however, because the only
evidence shown in the mail was ad4 behaving oddly.

Some off-topic-of-thread facts worth pointing out, as well as some
experiences I've had with disks failing out-of-the-box, and a recent
failure that cost me quite a lot of data (some of which financial):

* If both of those drives were bought at the same time from the same
place, chances are both came from the same fab and were manufactured at
the same time.  Disk fabs have historically been proven to have
"batches" of bad disks (if you want sources I can likely dig up articles
discussing it, most of which are confirmed by the manus stating they had
a manufacturing process that was questionable from X date to Y date).
So, there is much higher chance of both of those drives being bad if
they were bought at the same time, vs. if you bought each drive
separately at different times of the year.

* Hard disks are growing in capacity, but are not growing in physical
size.  We're pushing 1TB in a 3.5" form factor.  And the same applies to
laptop (2.5") drives.  The margin of error continues to increase as we
try to cram more and more data in such a small medium.  I personally
would *love* to see drives go back to using a 5.25" form factor,
especially for large capacity disks, since chances are it means higher
reliability (read: less chance of error).

* There's a lot of common Internet talk about SATA/PATA drives being
less reliable than SCSI.  My own opinion (based on years of experience
with both workstations and servers) is identical.  I've run "old" 36GB
SCSI drives for years with, at most, 1 grown defect; while in
comparison, I have replaced more PATA drives than I can count.  SATA
drives fall somewhere in-between (less overall failures).  Example:

Three months ago I bought a new 500GB Seagate SATA disk and had it fail
during the initial newfs.  Seagate's own tools determined the disk did
indeed have bad blocks.  I RMA'd it.  The refurbished replacement I
received (thanks for not sending me a new drive!) died about 3 months
later, and I lost almost 300GB of data, and of that about ~100GB was
irreplaceable.  It's my own fault for not doing backups [see below].
Another RMA.

To add fuel to the fire, Seagate *again* sent me a refurbished drive
(and I used their advanced replacement program), which has sat in a box
unopened since received.  I ended up buying two WD 500GB drives to
replace the single Seagate; one of the drives is used for nothing other
than doing incremental dump(8)s of the other (and the main OS drive).
If either of those 500GB drives fail, I'll be able to recover in some
way somewhat painlessly.

* I'm left questioning why a disk manufacturer would process drives
(by this I mean the manufacturing process) differently based on their
transport type.  It would cost a *huge* amount of money to have separate
fabs for SCSI, SAS, and SATA/PATA.  It also would make no sense to have
employees/workers handling/building SCSI disks "more carefully" than
SATA or PATA.  I would assume they're all handled in the same way.
But I've never worked in a HD fab, so this is speculative.

* All this leads me to the topic of backups.  Hard disks are growing in
capacity at a rate which the backup industry cannot follow.  It's
getting to the point where you have to buy hard drives to back up the
data on other hard drives, but anyone with half a brain knows RAID is
not a replacement for backups.

There is presently nothing __affordable on the consumer market__ which
makes backing up 300GB+ of data easy.  Everything that's capable of
doing this is in the tens of thousands of US dollars, if not more.  Am I
going to sit around once a week backing up a terabyte of data to ~120
dual-layer 8.5GB DVDs?  Nope.  The closest thing out there right now is
a product from IOMega called REV, which (at most) offers 70GB of storage
per disk, or 140GB with compression.

A new IOMega REV (which includes one 70GB disk) costs US$600 MSRP.  You
read that right.

* SCSI is outrageously expensive even in 2007.  I have yet to see any
shred of justification for why SCSI costs so much *even today*.  It
costs only a smidgen less than it did 15 years ago.

* SCSI is on its way out.  Seagate recently announced that
they'll no longer be supporting SCSI products, possibly by the end of
next year:

"Seagate has announced that by next year they will no longer be
supporting SCSI product and will be moving customers to the SATA

I'm willing to bet others will follow suit.

| Jeremy Chadwick                                    jdc at |
| Parodius Networking                  |
| UNIX Systems Administrator                      Mountain View, CA, USA |
| Making life hard for others since 1977.                  PGP: 4BD6C0CB |

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