Observation on old hard drives and WHS RRS feed

  • Question


    I have a homebuilt WHS that I have been using for about 8 months or so. I reused several PATA drives that I had been using in various PC PATA raids - 4x160 GB ATA 133s, and a WD 400 that was a couple of years old. The final 160 GB has failed today, the WD 400 failed a couple of weeks ago, the other 160GBs along the way. What I think is going on is that when the drives were in the PC they really weren't being used much overall. They served more as occasionally accessed storage. In the WHS environment, the drives are being used much more often - the balancing, backups, streaming video, copying new media to the WHS, copying it off the WHS, etc. In other words, drives that spend most of thier lifetime with the heads parked had to start working, weaknesses were exposed, and failure resulted. The problem is not heat related, the WHS is a 4U server case with boocoo cooling fans.

      My supposition is that the WHS environment is not a good one for reusing old HDDs, both because it is a 24/7 environment, and the activity that the drives will endure.

      I currently have a new 500GB and a fairly new 320 GB in place now, and plan on adding at least another new 500 asap. I will not rotate older HDDs to the WHS from now on.    

    Saturday, July 19, 2008 2:56 PM

All replies

  • In general, I don't recommend reusing old parts for your production Windows Home Server computer. Old parts have been strained by time and (ab)use, and are often much closer to the end of their life than the warranty would lead one to believe. In addition, old parts were usually not chosen with the thought that they would be used in a server, which (as you have observed) puts a greater strain on everything by virtue of the 24x7 nature of it's operation.
    Saturday, July 19, 2008 3:43 PM
  • You might be extrapolating cause and effect a little too much. After all, what makes you think that the drives would not have failed around this time anyway?

    It could be that using the hard drives in a workstation environment, with lots of startups and shutdowns, wore out the hard drives to the point that they were due to fail anyway, and the server use was just the final stretch of their life.

    Very few hard drives get used to their age limit, since they mostly get replaced before that time is reached anyway. You yourself pulled the hard drives from  a previous system and upgraded or discarded that system, and it is only because of the desire to 'experiment' by using them in a WHS that they got reused at all. Normally they would just end up in the dump eventually.
    FWIW, it is a well known fact that unused hard drives are terrible for long term archival storage, because chances are very good that an unused hard drive will not start up after 7 years of sitting idle. So lackof use is as bad as abuse.

    Would I reuse a hard drive? Not in anything that is going directly into a WHS. When a 750GB drive sells for around $100, it makes little sense to reuse small drives in that way, and you should just spend the money to avoid the hassle of outgrowing the drives in a couple of months anyway. But I would reuse the older hard drives in less critical applications, such as for removable backup, where you are only counting on reliabilty on the odd case that your main storage fails catastrophically. Even an old drive used for backup is better than no secondary backup at all. 

    Saturday, July 19, 2008 9:11 PM