Best kind of hard drive for heavy use?

David Christensen dpchrist at
Wed Sep 14 03:07:21 UTC 2016

On 09/13/2016 11:48 AM, Thomas Mueller wrote:
> I had a hard-drive crash last night, GPT corrupted, don't know whether it's a software fault (NetBSD-current 7.99.15 i386) or hardware.
> Main question is what kind of hard drive is used for heavy compiling in FreeBSD, base system and ports, what might be used to create packages and base-system downloadable images.
> Using a USB-stick installation of FreeBSD including Rod Smith's gdisk, I could possibly restore the partition table, assuming hard drive is not going bad.  It's a Western Digital Green 3 TB dating to May 2013.  Experience with Western Digital makes me very afraid of "green" hard drives.
> I seem to be able to access the partitions, from the USB-stick installation of FreeBSD but not from NetBSD or Linux System Rescue CD, or at least the partition mounted as /home, read-only, would want to rsync that user data to an external USB stick or other drive, before doing anything that could mess the hard disk further and destroy my user data.  I have rsync on that USB-stick installation of FreeBSD.  I need to fear that any kind of write to that hard drive, even to restore the partition table, could push my data further to destruction if it's a hardware fault.
> After updating my backup with rsync, I could try to restore the GPT from backup at end of disk; I also found a backup copy of GPT data on the USB stick.

Disconnect the HDD SATA and power cables.

Test the power supply.  If bad, replace with known good power supply and
retest.  Stop if you can't get a power supply that passes.

Test the memory.  If bad, remove all modules, reseat and retest one at a
time.  Then two, three, four, etc..  For bad modules, replace with known
good modules and retest one at a time; two, three, four, etc..  Stop if
you can't get a memory configuration that passes.

Reconnect HDD SATA and power cables.  Install an additional known-good
HDD of equal or larger size.  Use a live CD/USB distribution and use
ddrescue to transfer available blocks to other drive.  Remove other
drive.  Repeat as necessary, depending upon the value of the data.

Download and run the HDD manufacturer diagnostic:

If test fails, it could be the HDD, cable connections, SATA cable, power
cable, HBA, HBA connection, motherboard, etc..  You will need known good
spares to isolate.  If you're unlucky, you could have more than one issue.

As for "what kind of hard drive is used for heavy compiling in FreeBSD,
base system and ports, what might be used to create packages and
base-system downloadable images", it's really a matter of "speed is
expensive -- how much money do you have?"  A single, large,
power-conserving desktop HDD does not sound like a good choice for this

My data resides on a Samba server, which also hosts CVS.  For my desktop
workstation, I prefer a small device/partitions (16 GB) for boot, swap,
and root and a medium "scratch" device/partition (40+ GB) for doing work
(database, audio/video editing, etc.).  The key is having a scratch
device that is large enough to hold everything needed for the task at
hand.  If you have more money, use more devices, SSD's and/or RAID.  If
you have less money, use one device and/or HDD's.

It sounds like you have a backup device or server -- good.  Make two
additional copies of your backups: keep one on-site, keep one off-site.
Do not run a backup job on the failed drive.

More information is needed for recovery, starting with:

1.  Results of hardware tests?

2.  Results of ddrescue?

3.  Partitions on failed HDD?

4.  File systems on failed HDD?

5.  What other hardware is in the computer?

6.  What additional computers and/or hardware do you have for
troubleshooting, repair, recovery, etc.?


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