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Old 04-29-2007, 07:50 PM   #1
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Determine age of hard drive?

I'm pretty sure I once ran into something that showed how old a hard drive is or (more importantly) how long it has been in use. Is there some way I can access this information?
Old 04-29-2007, 07:56 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by General
I'm pretty sure I once ran into something that showed how old a hard drive is or (more importantly) how long it has been in use. Is there some way I can access this information?
Not really. Smartmontools can query the drive to find out how long it's been powered (man smartctl) however the counter resets periodically (the limit is 65536 minutes in many drives). Further complicating it is that the counters in hard drives (especially Maxtors) are notoriously unreliable.
Old 04-29-2007, 10:16 PM   #3
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The manufacturing date frequently appears on the label of the drive itself. Take a look if you haven't already. Western Digital in particular is pretty good about this
Old 04-29-2007, 11:43 PM   #4
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I just use my hearing. If the drive is too quiet, use a stethoscope. Quiet is good because it means the drive is still in good health. Another point of failure is the quality of the power supply. If the power supply is irregular or does not filter well, the hard drive will not function. If the heads have been slapped against the platters (head crash) then there is no way of knowing the conditions of the platters until sector corruption occurs or opening up the hard drive in a clean room or clean booth. IMHO, S.M.A.R.T. is stupid and it does not give you a good sense when the hard drive will fail. Not even the manufactured date can give you an idea when it first used.

I think solid state hard drives are harder to figure out. May have to use a microscope to check the atomic structure.
Old 04-29-2007, 11:53 PM   #5
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I personally like SMART. Three significant components of wear include spin-up time (long spin-ups can indicate bearing problems), seek times (long seeks indicate issues with head positioning) and reallocated sector count (large numbers of reallocated sectors indicates issues with the platters).

I strongly believe that SMART is better than nothing, though you should look at other indicators (mostly noise). In my computer, I cannot hear any of the 3 hard drives over the fans, so I feel reasonably comfortable.


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