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New HDD Intital SMART Data - Reason for concern?

I just bought a Transcend StoreJet 25M 500 GB external USB Portable Hard Drive. The free Western Digital Data Lifeguard Diagnostics program identified the drive inside the Transcend enclosure as a Western Digital 2.5" (laptop) model, the WD500BPVT.

Looking at the initial S.M.A.R.T data, all of the values look as expected (i.e., what I've seen with previous WD laptop drives), with the exception that Spin-Up time's initial value is 157 (worst and current) instead of the 200 I saw in the other WD's when they were new. And that has already declined to 155 (worst & current) with only a few hours of use. (The WD's in my laptops -- different models than this one -- have declined to worsts of 196 and 197 after 4+ months of heavy use. The warranty threshold value for this dimension is 21.)

Admittedly I have only a fuzzy understanding of SMART, but this has me uncomfortable, even though the drive seems to be operating properly and is very quiet. Any thoughts on whether I'm justified to be uncomfortable about these readings? Should i return or exchange the Transcend? Thanks.
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  1. Hi Rick,

    What I'd do is download the free version of HD Tune, and run it. It has a 'Health' section, giving you another look at the S.M.A.R.T. data. It shows you the parameter, Current, Worse, Threshold, and Status. A very respected program.

    Might consider posting the image of it's findings for us to review, so hopefully you could get several 'expert' opinions about the data. Can use Photobucket of ImageShack to upload and paste the IMG link, if you haven't done that before.
  2. John -

    Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately HD Tune's SMART page comes up blank for the Transcend/WD. Perhaps because that drive is FAT32 (as HD Tune reports, BTW)? Or might there be some other reason? While I intend to re-format it to NTFS, I don't want to do so while I'm still considering returning it.

    Fyi, I took a look at the health section for my laptop's internal WD drive. The SMART parameters match what I see in the WD Diagnostics program, but of course what's missing in the latter are the important Status and Data columns.
  3. Best answer
    Rick441 said:
    John -

    Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately HD Tune's SMART page comes up blank for the Transcend/WD. Perhaps because that drive is FAT32 (as HD Tune reports, BTW)? Or might there be some other reason? While I intend to re-format it to NTFS, I don't want to do so while I'm still considering returning it.

    Fyi, I took a look at the health section for my laptop's internal WD drive. The SMART parameters match what I see in the WD Diagnostics program, but of course what's missing in the latter are the important Status and Data columns.


    Hi Rick,

    I'm very surprised you had any glitch with HD Tune. Will check the manual to see if anything comes up. Now a FAT-32 HDDs has a size limit at 32 GB so it can't be FAT-32 if it's a 500GB drive.

    This is a keeper for your utility tool box, and it's free. Had a 500 GB PATA backup drive couple months age used for auto weekly imaging. Began to take longer and longer for the backup, and when I checked it with HD Tune, it was writing at 2.5 MB/s (Normal about 50 MB/s for this drive). Sent it in to WD, with a paper print of the File benchmark and got a new one back in 3 days, no questions asked!

    One other suggestion to try, which I have used for years is ActiveSmart HDD analyzer. It is slick and can run in the background monitoring your HDDs. It costs $29.95 but there is a free trial, and a USB version with a free trial if this drive is USB connected. Lots of nice features. Might get the info you need from it. Here's the link to the Ariolic web site.

    http://www.ariolic.com/activesmart/usb-smart.html

    If you have trouble with the S.M.A.R.T data from this utility also, I'd be very suspect of the drive.
  4. Thanks for the tips!

    BTW, according to the HD Tune site it's apparently only the paid version that will read smart data on usb drives.
  5. Best answer selected by Rick441.
  6. John_VanKirk said:
    Now a FAT-32 HDDs has a size limit at 32 GB so it can't be FAT-32 if it's a 500GB drive.


    Windows XP and later won't let you format a drive over 32GB using FAT32 because it's extremely inefficient (the 120GB drive in my old laptop came formatted FAT32 and I gained over 2GB by converting it to NTFS) but I believe the hard limit is 2TB. Non-Windows operating systems like Linux will format up to that hard limit if you choose.
  7. Not sure if your 32GB-limit comment was directed strictly at Windows XP's own formatting capabilities, but plenty of third-party programs will allow large disks to be formatted FAT32 (not that one would want to for Windows unless they're still using ME or older, or are sharing the disk with someone who has a different OS).
  8. I'm assuming that your drive is port powered.

    If so, then it may be that your external drive has been intentionally programmed with a low-current spinup profile to minimise the current demand on your USB port. USB 2.0 ports are current limited to 500mA whereas most 2.5" drives require 800mA or more during spinup.

    See Figure 2 in the following document:

    Finding the Ideal Disc Drive for 2.5-Inch External USB Applications:
    http://www.seagate.com/docs/pdf/whitepaper/TP-535.pdf

    Western Digital has a WDSpinUp utility that "uses a Vendor Specific Command to get or set the spinup current setting":
    http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=609&sid=114&lang=en

    The following document specifies an "average drive ready time" of 4 seconds:

    WD Scorpio Blue Series Disti Spec Sheet:
    http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/2879-701278.pdf

    AIUI, the raw value of the SpinUp Time SMART attribute reflects the spinup time in milliseconds, but this may not always be the case.

    I have collated some SMART results from the Internet. The first is for a WD5000BPVT, the others are for a WD5000BEVT.

    Attribute - Threshold - Current - Worst - Raw

    03 21 200 164 983
    03 21 187 186 1650
    03 21 187 181 1650
    03 21 187 152 1650
    03 21 186 179 1691
    03 21 185 181 1725
    03 21 185 181 1733
    03 21 184 184 1758
    03 21 184 183 1758
    03 21 184 181 1775
    03 21 153 153 3341

    ISTM that a normalised value of 200 equates to a spinup time of 1.00 sec.

    Comparing the best and worst results, it would appear that the drive loses 1 point for every 50ms increase in the spinup time.

    (3341 - 983) / (200 - 153) = 50.17
  9. fzabkar -- Interesting...that could explain it. Thanks.
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