Bad Blocks... Should I RMA?
Ronald F. Guilmette
rfg at tristatelogic.com
Mon Nov 16 00:06:57 UTC 2009
In one of my systems, I've got a Seagate SATA 500GB drive (ST3500320AS)
which is actually not very old... purchased 12/11/2008.
It's never given me any problems, but just a few minutes ago, while
compiling a small C program, I got a set of three irrecoverable
errors in quick succession... apparently all read errors from the
same single block. Here's the relevant lines from /var/log/messages:
Nov 15 15:24:17 coredump kernel: ad4: FAILURE - READ_DMA status=51<READY,DSC,ERROR> error=40<UNCORRECTABLE> LBA=256230591
Nov 15 15:24:43 coredump kernel: ad4: FAILURE - READ_DMA status=51<READY,DSC,ERROR> error=40<UNCORRECTABLE> LBA=256230591
Nov 15 15:24:46 coredump kernel: ad4: FAILURE - READ_DMA status=51<READY,DSC,ERROR> error=40<UNCORRECTABLE> LBA=256230591
(Don't be confused... The name of the host system here is "coredump"... my
lame attempt at humor.)
So anyway, this is one of those Seagate drives with 5-year warranty.
(I only buy the 5-year ones these days... don't trust anything less.)
This situation happened at a (relatively) opportune moment. I have zip,
nada, nothing on the drive that needs to be either backed up or relocated
to another drive. This drive is essentially blank at the moment.
So, the question is, should I:
1) RMA the drive back to Seagate?
2) Somehow try to lock-out the bad sector(s)? (If so, how?)
If it was failing all over the place (and on multiple blocks), then yea,
sure, I'd RMA it back to Seagate in a heartbeat. But heck! It's only one
sector. And what's one sector between friends?
Before posting this, I googled around a bit for the crrent Accepted Wisdom
regarding such sitiations. Most seems to say that bad blocks (even one?)
are an early warning of impending doom (for the drive), and suggest trashing
or RMA'ing the drive. I just sorta wanted to know if folks here would agree
or disagree with that.
One thing concerns me about the thought of RMA'ing the drive back... The
last time I RMA'd a drive (years ago & a different brand) I got back as a
replacement a ``refurb'' drive. Hummm. If I RMA this drive, it is possible
that Seagate would replace it with a refurb whose remaining life may perhaps
prove to be even less than the drive I am RMA'ing? Do Seagate RMA drive
replacements come with fresh platters?
P.S. If I _do_ end up RMA'ing the thing back, do I need to worry about
scrubing the drive squeaky clean first... you know... using one of these
multiple write-over progs (like `wipe') if I am paranoid... as I am...
about the possibility of old credit card numbers lying around in unallocated
sectors on the drive? (The drive is empty _now_, but earlier it was in
I guess what I'm asking is: Do Segate and the other manufacturers care
enough about their customer's privacy to securely wipe old drives/platters
that come in to them for RMA? Or do I need to worry 'bout that for my own
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