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Old 05-28-2008, 03:41 PM   #1
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smart prefailure errors on new hard drive

I just installed a new 250GB maxtor hard drive a couple weeks ago, and smart is giving this message in the daily logs:

/dev/hdb :
    Prefailure: Raw_Read_Error_Rate (1) changed to
      114, 116, 114, 115, 110, 105, 110, 112, 111, 110, 105, 111,
      112, 108, 103, 102, 105, 107, 102, 109, 107, 108, 107, 108,
      109, 111, 114, 112, 108, 104, 105, 107,

But then manual smart testing says it's okay:

root@moe:~ # smartctl -l error /dev/hdb
smartctl version 5.38 [i686-pc-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-8 Bruce Allen
Home page is

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

root@moe:~ # smartctl -l selftest /dev/hdb
smartctl version 5.38 [i686-pc-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-8 Bruce Allen
Home page is

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      3639         -
# 2  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      3639         -
# 3  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      3639
Which one should I believe? Are those prefailure numbers normal? I just wonder whether I should be concerned there's a problem or not.
Old 05-28-2008, 04:26 PM   #2
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Many of the statuses or conditions listed by SMART start at a baseline of 100, and drift from there over time, generally in a downward fashion, obvious exceptions being things like temperature, power-on-hours, etc..

Try "smartctl -A /dev/hdb" for a list such as the following:

sh-3.1# smartctl -A /dev/hda
smartctl version 5.37 [i686-pc-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-6 Bruce Allen
Home page is

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000f   111   096   006    Pre-fail  Always       -       37767785
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0003   096   095   000    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0032   100   100   020    Old_age   Always       -       126
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   036    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000f   072   060   030    Pre-fail  Always       -       30210708769
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   093   093   000    Old_age   Always       -       6175
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   097    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   020    Old_age   Always       -       301
187 Unknown_Attribute       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
189 Unknown_Attribute       0x003a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
190 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   064   054   045    Old_age   Always       -       639631396
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   036   046   000    Old_age   Always       -       36 (Lifetime Min/Max 0/20)
195 Hardware_ECC_Recovered  0x001a   065   056   000    Old_age   Always       -       113790004
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0010   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x003e   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
200 Multi_Zone_Error_Rate   0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
202 TA_Increase_Count       0x0032   100   253   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SO you can see the many standard defaults & 100s in the first column, followed by a "worst recorded" value, finally followed by a threshold value which I am unsure but I believe is a "if you have this value you're screwed" type value. A threshold of 000 seems to mean it is irrelevant.
Basically, if the 1st column is hanging around its default value of 100 (or 200 in some cases), and the 2nd column isn't too too far removed from that value on a regular basis, AND they do not meet or exceed the threshold, I don't worry. Any row with "100 100 ###" all the time, I don't worry about.
After some regular monitoring of a device, you get familiar with its usual values.

If someone knows a better way to interpret this stuff, do tell! Or perhaps a site where various drives' defaults can be read and compared to our own?

You can also use the --all flag to get full SMART capability & usage info from the drive, including recomended testing intervals and stuff like that. The -H flag gives a brief health status, and -h is for help.

The message in your logs is more of an INFO sort of message, rather than cause for concern.


Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 05-28-2008 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 05-28-2008, 04:51 PM   #3
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I was once confused by the "pre failure" attributes as well.

They're just called "pre failure" to indicated that IF the numbers are out of range, the drive will most likely be dead within a short time, critical parameters that is.

As long as the smart self tests are ok, and smartctl doesn't come up with "failing now" I would just keep an eye on them, but not worry too much about it.
Interpretation of those numbers can be a bit tricky though as they are usually normalized to some value.
Old 05-28-2008, 06:41 PM   #4
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thanks for the detailed responses GrapefruiTgirl and rtspitz. I had seen in an email archive somewhere someone saying that if it got much above 100 you should start worrying, but I guess that was a little off. I'm going to do the -A test and see what those values say, thanks.
Old 05-29-2008, 10:37 AM   #5
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If you are concerned about the drive you can always grab the HD Test program from the drive manufacturers website..

for instance... Seatools for DOS Bootable ISO image
Most Drive manufacturers provide similar tools for testing their Hard drives.


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