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Question about Hard Drive Surface Test

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by durikaj, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. durikaj

    durikaj New Member

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    I'm currently running a HDSurface Test due to issues with recording playback. It's been running for about 15 hours now, and for the past hour it's said 100% complete, although the errors found and errors corrected numbers keep going up.

    Any idea about why it would read 100% complete, and how much longer it might take to actually complete?

    Thanks.
     
  2. litzdog911

    litzdog911 Well-Known Member

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    If it's finding errors then your hard drive is defective. Call DirecTV to request a replacement Receiver/DVR. It's free if you have their Equipment Protection Plan, or within 90-days of installation. Otherwise ~$20 for shipping. Or ~$50 to have a tech come replace it for you.
     
  3. durikaj

    durikaj New Member

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    It's finding errors, but it's saying that all errors found have been corrected thus far...
     
  4. simtra

    simtra Mentor

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    Once a drive starts to report surface errors, it normally is not long until the drive just dies totally. If you think about why there are surface errors (like dirt or scratches) it is normally safe to assume that the problem will show up on other areas of the drive.

    I don't know if DirecTV will replace it since it is still working and users are not supposed to be inside the DVR to do a surface test but I would not record any shows I don't want to miss on it. :(
     
  5. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    "Users" aren't inside the DVR, as this is a diagnostic menu found through the front panel.
     
  6. allenn

    allenn Icon

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    Best advise all day! Do what Litzdog said.

    I had an owned HR21-700 which had a D* HDD error. I pulled the drive, and I ran multiple HDD diagnostic programs which reported the HDD problem had been corrected. Well, I wasted a lot of time, because I had to replace the DVR. Yes, I could have purchased a new HDD; but the price of a multi-media HDD is very high, and now there is a shortage of HDDs. Best wishes!
     
  7. jdspencer

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

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    Early last year my HR20 started to do this. It would report that things were fixed and then do another test.
    I finally replaced it with an HR24
     
  8. kevinturcotte

    kevinturcotte Active Member

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    How do you launch the test? How long does it take (500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB)?
     
  9. Wilhite

    Wilhite AllStar

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    My external 2TB drive would take over 24 hours to run the test. It always launched itself when the unit would reboot.
     
  10. Go Beavs

    Go Beavs Hall Of Fame

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    Press 'Select' during reboot when the "receiver self check" message is on the screen. You'll get into the diagnostic menus. There are all sorts of tests you can run including the hard drive tests.
     
  11. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    the old 300 GB Seagates took 90 min.
     
  12. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    I am not sure I can totally buy that assumption. HDDs all have surface errors from the beginning. The original full scan done before you purchase it sectors out the errors that are there. The surface scan in the DVR does the same thing.

    "Repaired" is a misnomer; no potholes are filled by this process. Instead, a map of where the potholes are is kept by the drive and it is instructed to simply not write there. Depending on how the surface scan routine is written, it may be also recounting errors that were sectored out during production along with new errors. This means counting them is a fairly inaccurate path to drawing a conclusion about that.

    It is not unusual for surface errors to appear on a HDD after it is in use, but if you are seeing a lot of them (which is hard to judge from the test) it could mean it is failing, yes. There is just no true connection between reported surface errors and a failing drive that is a reliable indication of that.

    A new drive has surface errors pretty early on, and will have more as it is used. This explains why on a PC drive files will become fragmented even if there is contiguous space for a file (it writes, sees errors, and continues writing somewhere else). Since drives are built in clean rooms, there is not much chance of dirt of debris, and the head does not ever (hopefully) touch the surface; if it ever did you would have much more severe problems to worry about. So "scratches" is also pretty much a misnomer.

    Surface errors, once the original ones are sectored out, are the surface flaking off. Yes, that causes debris, but the flakes are small enough to not get between the surface and the head, and are usually forced to the edge of the housing just due to the centrifugal force of the air movement over the surface, meaning the odds of minor flaking causing more problems are small, and major flaking means you already have a serious issue anyway. The flaking is aggravated by expansion and contraction, which is one of the reasons why heat is not good for longevity, and also contributes to the theory that a drive that spins up and down will fail earlier than one that spins continuously (which is of course just the opposite if it is the bearing that fails).

    The correlation is not between surface errors and failure, as much as it is between suspecting HDD problems and finding them (suspected drives are often bad drives, while those not suspected often are not). The surface errors it finds may or may not have anything to do with the actual health of the drive; you would have to know how many any what that amount actually means to draw a correlation.
     
  13. TBoneit

    TBoneit Hall Of Fame

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    Once a drive has used up all the spare sectors it has reached the end IMO.
     
  14. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    "Spare" sectors. Hmmm. That's interesting; I had not heard about that. Can you enlighten us a bit?

    It would not make much sense that running out of them would be the death knell for a HDD; though it might mean the surface scan would then be less effective I guess. But the drive would still work, wouldn't it?
     
  15. Drucifer

    Drucifer Well-Known Member

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    Could of used that knowledge a few weeks ago when my HR21-100 started randomly rebooting. Apparently, it didn't recover from its last reboot as I found it dead when I went to check why it was missing from Whole-Home/Status again. It was so dead, even a RBR wouldn't wake it. Had to pull the plug from the electric outlet.

    It got as far the Receiver Self-Check screen when it switched over to scanning disk which ran for over a hour. It then reported a diagnostic code 15.

    It just so damn annoying thinking of all the wasted time I spent with a DirecTV on the phone over the last few weeks telling me to check this connection and those lights, when I knew and they probably knew the drive was failing.
     
  16. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    Sometimes bad power (noise, ripples, glitches) could produce 'soft' error during writing. There is methods to erase internal "G" list of bad sectors and run new scan with remapping what would recover these 'soft' bad sectors, also it would find and remap really weak/bad sectors to spare area. So far I saw in Seagates the limit is 4096.
    About DVR utils - they are pretty easy and while developers keep silence about its algos, judging by results and spent time I would say these are not that comprehensive as should be.
     
  17. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    If you could take out the drive and run some program (MHDD from a CD), then we could know its health [SMART] and by scanning - how many bad sectors it will develop by one pass.
     
  18. nsolot

    nsolot AllStar

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    IME, "bad power" will most definitely reduce the lifespan of hard drives. All my computers are hooked up to APC UPS, and 2 of 3 HR24 DVRs are on UPS also. We live in an area of Los Angeles with usually good and reliable power, but occasionally during a summer heatwave or winter T-storms, the UPS will start beeping to indicate a power condition (brown out I suspect) and about 50% of the time, we loose power after the UPS has "warned us".


    One of the biggest advantages to running an external eSata setup is the ability to take it off the HR and put it on a PC for diagnostics. Lately I use the Western Digital software. At an old job, we used to use software called SpinRite, and on the deepest level of testing it claimed it could test and return good sectors back into use that had been marked bad. I don't recall seeing this happen, but I do recall many times it would test and remove bad sectors, and if it was more than a handful, we would replace that hard drive. If you smell smoke, there is probably a fire nearby.
     
  19. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    Probably someone starting BBQ :).

    Not always, it all depend; I understand, for regular J6P it would be overkill, but for a person who making a _decision_, the full knowledge is paramount.
    SpinRite is good, but as mentioned many times, the free MHDD will make your day with same results: taking SMART before/after these scans/tests, it will give much better understanding of whole picture and tendencies.
    I don't like those proprietary programs (Seatools, etc and DVR utils) what giving you meaningless error code number, it keep you practically uninformed. :(
     
  20. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Can't imagine why. It's not as if the drive starts to dig the actuator into the platters when the voltage drops or anything else that would portend a catastrophic failure. About all that happens when a HDD loses power unexpectedly is that part of whatever data is in the buffer can spew across adjacent sectors as the actuator arm moves where it shouldn't. That will not cause disk errors, but it could corrupt data, and if that data is part of the OS, buh-bye OS.

    The voltage regulator in modern power supplies usually keeps the DC at proper levels even if AC fluctuates somewhat. If AC falls enough to cause the HDD to not be able to spin at proper speed, another problem happens that is worse, which is that DC ripple increases, and that can corrupt data as read or written for that point in time. A UPS can come in handy for that, but again, this will not damage the drive, only the existing data written on the drive.

    DC ripple can also happen as a common soft failure of a PS, and this can cause random reboots for the same above reason. No UPS in the world can help you then, because DC ripple is generated downstream of the AC power.

    SpinRite does not work that way.

    When your PC tries to read the HDD, it tries over and over again until it reads the data (some data is harder to read if there are soft errors in the magnetic medium). It usually tries about 10 times or so, and if it hasn't got it by then, it gives up.

    SpinRite does the exact same thing, except it virtually "never" gives up. It will keep trying for days to read data from bad sectors before giving up, and if if is successful it moves that data to a known good area on the drive. Then it moves on to the next sector and the next until it finds another problem, and keeps repeating that process until it has read every sector it can read on the drive that has data on it.

    But again, there is no actual repair of the medium going on here. There is a DB with a map of where the known bad sectors are, and the drive uses that map to avoid those sectors. It's like a permanent no-fly zone for the actuator. SpinRite recreates and updates that DB. It's just that simple. No repair, no magic.
     

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