School of Hard (Drive) Knocks – Part 2

image of people cleaning a hard driveAt the beginning of the month I wrote about my Windows Home Server hard drive problems and at the time I was waiting for WHS to finish removing the bad drive from its storage pool. When I posted the article I was letting Windows Home Server run through the drive removal process while I slept. I had pulled the plug on the bad drive since it brought the server to its knees and was now trying to remove the traces of it from the pool.

When I woke up in the morning the console had crashed and wouldn’t start up. Not Good, but after a quick reboot the console started. The bad drive was still there and part of the pool. There were still some file conflicts reported but with the missing drive that was to be expected. I started up the drive removal wizard again and went off to work.

The console had again gone away by the time I got home. This time it started and the drive was still there. I decided to reboot the server and give the removal wizard one more try since I didn’t have time to do much else. This time when I got back to it the drive had been successfully removed and there weren’t any remaining file conflicts. I gave the WHS once final reboot just to be sure all was well. And it was.

The truth is, I wouldn’t have had the patience to run the wizard three times except for the fact the it was either that or do nothing while I slept and worked. Timing is everything, although in the future I’ll be sure to show some patience.

A few days later one of my 2TB drives finished its pass through a Spinrite level 5 check so I brought the server down again and replaced the drive. Since it was a drive in the internal cage the server needed to be pulled apart to get to it. While a bit tedious pulling apart the server to get the drive it went without a hitch and the server was happy with the new drive.

As it turns out that was one of three Western Digital TB drives manufactured in October of 2009 that  went bad on me. There was the previously mentioned one that arrived DOA. At the time of my previous post that DOA’s replacement had just arrived. While it did spin up it failed to pass Western Digital’s own testing after being a bit flaky in my test PC, so back it went. When I pulled out this bad drive I saw it was manufactured the same month. I have a second drive purchased at the same time that I’ll be pulling to see when it was manufactured and running through a Spinrite test. While it only showed 4 pending bad sectors (compared to hundreds on its mate) I already removed it from the storage pool.

Unfortunately it didn’t hit me that the bad drive was a recent purchase and my delay in pulling it meant I missed the window for a hassle free return to Amazon. So when I get a chance I’ll run Western Digital’s diagnostics on it and if it fails I’ll RMA it, otherwise it will get the Spinrite treatment.

As for the server, I decided I only wanted to make one more trip into that internal drive cage, so it means replacing two 2TB drives at once. I didn’t have the free space to remove both drives from the storage pool so I turned off file duplication on my video files to free up the space. Once that was done I removed both drives from the storage pool. Once of those is one that’s probably manufactured in the same batch as my three bad drives. I’ve got two 2TB drives going through Spinrite level 5 checks now and if the time estimate is correct I should be able to replace the drives on Saturday and turn file duplication back on.

I have five more drives showing a couple bad or pending bad sectors. A couple isn’t necessarily bad if the number doesn’t increase, but I still plan to work my way through them all with a Spinrite level 5 check. Unfortunately level 5 is very time consuming. If I use my test PC (which is slow) it takes about 10 days to do a 2TB drive.

By this weekend my Windows Home Server should be back to full strength and I can use a spare drive to cycle through the testing of the remaining drives. It’ll take awhile, but since the drive testing doesn’t require me to do anything more than swap a disk and bang a few keys every few days it shouldn’t be too bad. What’s the saying? “An ounce of prevention…”

2 thoughts on “School of Hard (Drive) Knocks – Part 2”

  1. I had some WHS problems with a bad drive myself not too long ago (WD Caviar Green 1TB… wonder if it's an October 2009 like your bad ones). Man, what is it about WHS that it just can't handle a drive going casters up? It send the whole machine into a tizzy! And then if you have a decent amount of data (videos) like you and I do and have to remove a drive, it takes for-friggin-ever.

    I'm beginning to think that the ideal WHS disk setup is to have a Drobo or 2 plugged into the USB ports and just be done with it.

    I'm also beginning to think it's just easier to keep my movies on DVDs rather than streamable. Sure, it's a trip upstairs to retrieve the disc when I want to watch it but that's probably far less heartache than what you and I have both experienced with WHS.

    Thanks for the articles… misery loves company.


    • @Mike
      Yup, the downside of the WHS is the time it takes removing/replacing a drive. It's great when it works, a royal pain when it doesn't. The Drobo idea is interesting. I've never really trusted USB on a home server but I see they now have models with eSata and Firware too.

      I still like the idea of being able to stream the video since I'm basically lazy so I'll keep using the WHS. Also helps to be able to stream at the PC if I'm using the drive for something else.

      I got a bad batch of WD drives for sure. Including replacement, attempts I ended up 0 for 4 on the WD Green 2TB drives, all Oct 2009 Mfg dates. Three were obvious DOA's and the fourth managed to spin up and be seen by the OS but gets errors which are fixed by diags only too have the the errors return hours later. Although I've used WD for years without a problem. Guess every manufacturer has a problem every now and then. When I tried Seagate's awhile back it was when they were having BIOS problems and I was 0 for 2 on those before I gave up.

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