So I own a Dell Inspiron M5010, which came equipped with a 320GB, 5400 RPM Samsung Spinpoint M7 (HM321HI) HDD. After about 3 months, the HDD became unusable due to a high count of bad sectors (>500). I've replaced the broken HDD with a brand new, identical HDD which reached a bad sector count of over 250 in ~1 month. I have then upgraded the HDD to a 500GB, 7200 RPM Samsung Spinpoint M7 (HM500JI); at the moment it has 166 bad sectors in about 2 months of usage. I did not use the laptop under harsh conditions, it is not filled with dust, it did not suffer mechanical shocks. What should I be on the lookout for?
The current HDD temperature varries from 42-45 when idling to ~52-54 when playing a video game or using it extensively and the CPU temperature is always above 59 degrees Celsius, even when first booting up the laptop.
Also, the original power supply stopped working after 4 months since I purchased the laptop and I have replaced it with another 90W power supply.
Fun fact: a few (1-8) sectors were being marked as "bad" almost every time the song changed in an Youtube playlist; not always, but most of the time.
3 HDD in a row? I seriously doubt that. The HDD broke even when I held the laptop still, on my lap or on a desk, without moving it for a week or so.
Consider the marvels of modern day automated assembly. HDDs like other consumer products are assembled and tested on high speed automated assembly machines that utilize hard automation, robotics, lasers (welding, marking), and other pick-and-place mechanisms. When something goes wrong on the line, the entire batch of products will be bad; not just a few random assemblies. Some of these bad assemblies do slip past QA (that's why they have serial numbers, date codes, etc. for traceability). I am not saying that this is the case, but it is a definite possibility not to be ignored.
Case in point: A computer in the office was giving trouble. The guy from the contract repair service traced it to a bad PSU and replaced the PSU. The next day the same problems re-appeared. After a lot (excessive amount) of trouble-shooting, the repair guy identified the problems to a bad PSU that he had just replaced, and installed another new PSU. Same problems the next day.
The real problem (identified by the repair guy) was two bad defective new PSUs in a row. The third one (PSU) turned out to be fine.
In your case, buy a HDD of a different brand and try it. It is quite possible that the voltage supplied to the HDD in your computer is not within the prescribed range.
Wow. I have had at least 30 HDD's of various makes, models and sizes in my many desktops and laptops starting back in 1994, and honestly, I think only one failed on me in all that time. Bad luck dude. Yeah, I'd be trying a different make. My M1730 Dell has two 320GB Hitachi HDD's, and no problems that I know of - or maybe I'm not looking hard enough.
I can check in the HDD user manual but how can I see what are the actual voltages sent out to the HDD?
The HDD specs should list the HDD voltage, and that voltage must match the voltage supplied to it by the motherboard.
The things that are affect HDDs are:
2) Vibrations and impact forces in excess of design specs
3) Voltage (over or under specs)
5) Manufacturing defects (clearances between the heads and the platters, bad bearing supports)
6) Wear and tear through use
And yet my question remains: how do I see the actual voltages?! (not the voltages in the HDD's specsl)
This is possible only by taking the computer apart and checking the voltage at the connector end. I DO NOT recommend doing this. Computer repair shops may have a connector that simulates a hard disk, thereby enabling them to check voltages.