Friday, August 14, 2009

400 Posts

No, it's not the 400 Blows.

But it feels like it.

For this post I want to talk about hard drives. Most especially about hard drives that fail.

More specifically about the companies that produce hard drives that fail.

I have now had 4 HD failures in the past three years. Two Maxtor external drives, two Western Digital internal drives. Not a great rate by any stretch of the imagination.

After the first internal drive had failed, which was a system drive, in which I had just deleted the previous backup before creating a new backup (never do this), I put two HD in my new system as a RAID 1 array (mirrored). This was only a few months ago, and already one HD has failed, but being a RAID 1 array, the second disk is now acting as my system drive so at least the system is accessible. Good job I think to myself, previous lesson learned, applied, and the rewards reaped.

Now comes the fun part. In an effort to learn what failed I am supposed to download a diagnostics program to test the drive to send a report to Western Digital before I can receive a new drive. Unfortunately, this diagnostic program only runs on 32 bit operating systems.

I have 64 bit Windows Vista.

So I write an email to the support team at Western Digital and this is what they suggest:
I apologize for the difficulties. To properly diagnose the issue, I suggest removing the drive from the RAID array and installing it directly to a computer running a 32-bit edition operating system, then use Data Lifeguard Diagnostics to complete the Quick and Extended Test on your drive.
Does anyone else think this is completely unreasonable?

What if I didn't have a 32 bit machine? This is akin to taking your car into the mechanic and he says you have to pull the engine out of your car and place it into another car in order to find out what is wrong.

So because this company is unable to produce drives that do not fail, and is unable to produce a diagnostic tools that runs on a 64 bit operating system (what, is this a new and rare OS), then I am forced to perform a Frankensteinian operation on two computers (luckily I have a second computer).

It is not that this is difficult, it is the fact that this is completely unreasonable.

To top off the bit of fun with some whip cream and sprinkles, some other manifestation of WD, another part of the dark corporate empire languishing in the bowels of some dead eastern European empire has awakened itself to my presence, and like some poor schmuck who has suffered the severance of the corpus callosum, has sent me an email promising 15% off any WD produce as long as I fill out a customer satisfaction survey.

Yes, I would like to receive a discount for telling your company how thrilled I am with your excellent support team.

Good show.

Does anyone have any suggestions on alternative hard drive manufacturers?


Richard Grove said...

What an awful situation. No, their request to install into a 32 bit system and run diagnostics is not reasonable. This is a major hard-drive company. I would think they'd have a 64 bit version of their diagnostics. It's just laziness on their part playing the percentages that fewer people have 64 bit systems. Plus they end up not having to dole out a drive for free. Bad, bad business practice.

I've been using Seagate drives quite a bit over the last year and they are still healthy. Rather than a raid system, I have an external drive which is the same size as my system drive. I created a mirror to that drive and update it each week with Acronis True Image. That way if my original drive fails, I just plug in the mirrored one.

I'm also wondering if there is something in your system set up that might be killing your drives? How is the heat in the box? Is your power supply a good size for set up?

So sorry for all of your troubles. I know what it's like; you just want to pull your hair and get drunk.

bllius said...

Bad business = not my business anymore.

Will look at Seagate. Your setup is similar, just not a real time mirror like a raid array.

I've have 4 drives fail in 2 systems plus 2 external drives (which are on top of the desk). Heat and dust are an issue, but I think the power supply is adequate.