Are all Raptors crap, or just mine?

Must be hard disk failure week. My Raptor, less than 5 months old, gave me the Click of Death this morning. The head started clicking and clicked some more, then access got slower and slower, and I just about managed to copy my most recent data to a USB stick before it failed altogether.

The funny thing is, it came back. After a number of reboots and unsuccessful attempts to run DOS-based drive scanners, I left the computer off for a while and then prodded the drive a bit and checked the plugs (both seemed to be plugged in firmly). I don’t think anything should have changed but the drive came back to life all out of a sudden. Sure enough, a SpinRite check found four sectors that had unrecoverable errors.

Shouldn’t a drive handle such things by itself, without all this crap? That’s what error checking and automatic sector relocation is for, right? Also, S.M.A.R.T. is totally worthless. Never gave me any indication of impending failure, and right now the readout still shows all fields in the green, and just one reallocated sector! That after the drive was completely dead for hours.

I’ve ordered a Velociraptor so that I have another drive at hand in case this one fails again. Sadly, there’s no real competition in this performance bracket. I just hope this was a dud and not typical of the Raptor production line. :(

The sector reallocation only kicks in if the drive can actually read the contents of the faulty sector (via retries or ECC). If the sector is completely unrecoverable, some drives will just leave the sector in its broken state.

And if I remember correctly, reallocation behaviour is often broken down along ‘RAID’ or ‘non-RAID’ product lines, where the RAID ones are more likely to report errors rather than fix them so that the drive can be pulled and replaced as soon as possible. And based on the product sheet and WD’s description of TLER, this does indeed fall under a ‘RAID’-class drive and they don’t recommend using it outside of one.

But the drive was in no hurry to report this error, and it tried extremely hard to “fix” it (those hours of clicking with very slow drive operation and subsequent total failure)… so it’s like the opposite of what should have happened according to the TLER specification.

I’ve had a 72GB and 2x150GB Raptors, and never had any issues. They’re all years old and still running well in their respective systems. I’m sporting the Velociraptor now myself. So far, so good. Pretty quiet!

I have had terrible experiences with the raptor line, and WD drives in general. Not a single raptor has survived over 2 years, most under a year. Switched to seagate and hitachi now for most of my purchases. Nobody is talking class action unlike with IBM, so I am assuming it’s just my luck.

I’ve used mostly Seagate drives for the last several years, and they tend to last about 2-3 years on me before starting to fault / die. I just assume it is the standard inbuilt obsolescence that comes with all electrical components these days (!).

My latest beef is with a WD MyBook, 1Tb Firewire drive that I use for video editing. It’s 7 months old and it’s never been right - about 30% of the time the PC doesn’t recognise it on boot, and occasionally the PC stops recognising it after an hour or two (usually halfway through an editing session). Two other computers (a PC and an Intel Mac running XP) have shown the same problem with this drive, so I assume it’s not my PC. Today it crashed twice, and now it’s started making a faint clicking noise. Good job it’s all backed up!

This used to piss me off, but now I just run Syncback SE once a week.