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A question about hard drives I've always wanted to know...

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January 29, 2013 11:57:53 PM

Let's say I have a hard drive that is 5 years old (or older)....I've tested it with rudimentary tools like MS's Scan Disk and Seagate's Seatools and it tests good; would replacing it offer a performance gain?

My question is somewhat vague, but there's a reason for that; all of the free hard drive utilities I've tried (the kind that can be burned to disk via iso image) were incredibly crude; either "pass" or "no pass", that's it. If I knew how many bad sectors and what kinds of seek times there were, I'd have a better idea of hard drive status. Since I don't, I wonder if there is a certain age point in which a hard drive gets slow?

Thanks for any help!
January 30, 2013 1:36:10 AM

I see. Most of the time, my drive is in use 12 hours every day, always being shut off at night. I pretty much just surf the net with my computers...don't really do anything strenuous with them. For what it's worth, the drive is a Hitachi 250 gb. It's super quiet and doesn't give me any reason to think it's bad, but what do I know?
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a b G Storage
January 30, 2013 1:56:04 AM

I've never heard of a hard drive slowing down with age. Windows can slow down over time, as you accumulate junk and temporary files on it, but the hard drive usually runs util it begins to fail.

If your hard drive and BIOS support it, you can run a program to monitor SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) parameters, which would tell you when the drive is ready to fail. SMART monitors things like the drive's spin-up time, drive temperature, read and write errors, etc. I've used Active Hard Disk Monitor in the past, when it was free, but it doesn't seem to be free any longer. But you can use it for a 14-day trial period to see if there's anything wrong with your drive. Provided your old drive supports the generation and collection of SMART data.

http://www.ntfs.com/disk-monitor.htm

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January 30, 2013 2:00:43 AM

Thanks, I'm glad to know that age isn't necessarily a factor. Unfortunately, I run Linux on that comp, and Linux doesn't support ANYTHING :( 
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a c 303 G Storage
January 30, 2013 3:24:12 AM

Try smartmontools or HD Sentinel. Both have Linux versions.

http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/
http://www.hdsentinel.com/

Personally I would stick with the older drive. IMHO current technology is comparatively unreliable.

As for performance, the transfer rate doubles as the platter density quadruples. That is, if your 250GB drive has a single platter and two heads, then a current 1TB-per-platter model will be at least twice as fast. However, this assumes that your motherboard's controller can transfer data at the higher speed.
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a c 129 G Storage
January 30, 2013 5:19:43 AM

with old drives most times when they start slowing down is do to the heads and spindle hitting the drive platter...you start hearing a tick tick or buzzzing sound. or the drive lube goes bad or dries up. when it goes bad..thickens..when a drive is off and cools down it may not spin up on the first power cycle (sticknation). or the lube drys out and the drive sound like a lawn mower.
the thing that happens most with old drives is the drive controller will just fail. no spin or 30 sec spin up and then spin down.
there nothing wrong with using old drive just make sure you do a back up of your data. if the drive does die on you you wont lose much.
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January 30, 2013 12:42:07 PM

fzabkar said:
Try smartmontools or HD Sentinel. Both have Linux versions.

http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/
http://www.hdsentinel.com/

Personally I would stick with the older drive. IMHO current technology is comparatively unreliable.

As for performance, the transfer rate doubles as the platter density quadruples. That is, if your 250GB drive has a single platter and two heads, then a current 1TB-per-platter model will be at least twice as fast. However, this assumes that your motherboard's controller can transfer data at the higher speed.


Thanks, I didn't know that about larger drives being faster. I should have been more specific when I said there isn't anything available for Linux; there's lots of stuff available (like those drive tools), but you have to run terminal to use them, which I refuse to do.

Thanks for the answers everyone!
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January 30, 2013 12:42:28 PM

Best answer selected by 9xer.
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