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Old 07-16-2006, 11:02 AM   #1
Nylex
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Is my hard disk dying?


I have a Toshiba Satellite Pro A10 laptop (Celeron 2.2 GHz, 256 MB of RAM, 20 GB hard drive) and it has been running Slack happily for a few months. Recently though, there has been lots of hard disk activity every couple of minutes and the system becomes unresponsive (e.g. the mouse pointer won't move) until said activity stops. Just before rebooting, I tried to "su" and I got "/bin/su: Input/output error". "ls -l /bin/su" came back with "Bus error". I flipped over to a "proper" terminal and saw messages like the following

EXT3-fs error (device ide0(3,1)): ext3_get_inode_loc: unable to read inode block - inode=x, block=y,

EXT3-fs error (device ide0(3,1)) in ext3_reserve_inode_write: IO failure

and EXT3-fs error (device ide0(3,1)): ext3_free_branches: Read failure, inode=x, block=y,

where x and y are numbers.

I'm currently using a Mepis live CD and have already backed up the important data on the disk (though there wasn't much I need). So yeah, is this hard drive dying?

Also, are laptop hard drives expensive?

Thanks.
 
Old 07-16-2006, 11:28 AM   #2
david_ross
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It is possible that the disk is dying. Are those the only errors - take a look at the output from "dmesg". I'd try running fsck on the partition (when it is unmounted) from the live CD incase it is just filesystem related although it is unlikely.

2.5" drives aren't too expensive it looks like you can pick up a 40Gb one for under 50:
http://overclock.co.uk/home.php?cat=471

Just double check that it is a 2.5" ide drive. I think it will be though. You should be able to find the current model number with:
hdparm -I /dev/hda
 
Old 07-16-2006, 12:42 PM   #3
Nylex
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Thanks for the reply, David. dmesg was showing some output about DMA timeout though the machine crashed and I don't have that text any more (I ran it from the live CD, since the problem also occurs when I'm running from a CD :/).

I wasn't sure which options to use with fsck, so just ran it with -v and all that comes out is

fsck 1.39-WIP (31-Dec-2005)
e2fsck 1.39-WIP (31-Dec-2005)
/dev/hda1: clean, 132208/4760768 files, 773845/4759248 blocks.

I don't know if that's good or bad :/.

The version of hdparm on this live CD didn't seem to like the -l option, but I found the model in /proc/ide/ide0/hda/model and from a Google search, it appears that the disk is a 2.5". One last thing: the product page on Toshiba's website says the interface is ATA-5, but it seems most (all?) the drives I can buy today are ATA-6. Is this a problem at all?

Thanks .
 
Old 07-16-2006, 01:02 PM   #4
david_ross
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If fsck comes up as clean and there is still a problem I would suggest it is probably hardware. If you are getting dma errors then it is more than likley a hardware issue. There is a small chance it could be the controller but I'd say it's much more likely to be the hard drive, especially in a laptop where the machine is being moved around a bit.

An ATA-6 drive will work fine as a replacement. The number just relates to the maximum bus speed it will run at. If the controller doesn't support the fastest bus speed that the drive runs at it will just drop down to the highest supported instead.
 
Old 07-16-2006, 02:05 PM   #5
Nylex
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Nice one, thanks .
 
Old 07-16-2006, 03:29 PM   #6
zytsef
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Though it seems there's probably little hope that the drive can be salvaged you may want to chech out some hard drive diagnosis utilities. Ultimate Boot CD has a scad of them. I'd recommend any one of the last three diagnostic tools on the list since toshiba doesn't provide them for thier drives (assuming they put their own disks in their laptops). Handy tool either way.
 
Old 07-16-2006, 03:31 PM   #7
Nylex
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Thanks for that link zytsef, I'll try the CD . Indeed, Toshiba do put their own drives in their laptops.
 
  


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