August 5th, 2013

Live with spinning rust

So far we went along with hard drives pretty well -- I never lost significant amount of data.

And yes, that includes CF-size hard drive in zaurus, which fell to ground few times, includes disks with big red letters saying "BAD", includes disk that screamed "I'm bad" so loudly I get warning at every GUI start (and had bad sectors, but kept going) and includes 2.5" drive in notebook that played dead for a week or so... and then magically came back to life when notebook overheated. Drive was so hot you could not hold it in your hands, and magically started working. It even includes current .5T drive that has bad sectors and refuses to relocate.

My meetings with flash were not that happy. Basically, when I start using flashcard, it dies. Ok, sandisk 16GB seems to holding fine with ext3 on it... but I'm careful not to load it too much. 2GB card that came with HTC Dream also survived (and was lost somewhere in fields along with the phone). Most flashcards were not that lucky, one died within seconds of use when I did tar czvf /dev/sdX files. 2 other died when I partitioned them and formatted ext3. Basically they just don't keep data I put on them.

Now... .5T drive works fine, but has bad sectors and git on kernel trees is slow on it. I tried bcache on the hdd + usb stick, and it seemed to work, but... Today I got Seagate Laptop SSHD 1TB hybrid (FP660g5), and I wonder if it will be more of a harddrive or a flash. (It is 1TB drive with 8GB NAND). So far it seems to behave like flash. It is in external USB; SMART worked on first boot but does not seem to work now. Ouch. It started giving errors (leading up to system crash) immediately when I tried to do bulk copy there. It seems to work on second boot. (Ok, USB envelope has some problems with power, like not enough; but hdds usually just shut down when there's not enough power. And yes, I do have 2 USBs connected to the envelope).

So... I still hope SSHD will have reliability of spinning rust. But I'm afraid I'll lose some significant amount of data this time.

(Does anyone know if the SSHD will keep working when the NAND dies? Is there part that fits into 2.5" notebook slot and has HDD and SSD as separate devices? I can still return this one. I'm just not sure if I'll be able to erase it securely... another nasty issue with flash.)