I’ve had a tough week, technology-wise. Â Over the course of the last three days I’ve had two relatively new hard drives fail, a gigabit switch started having some ports go slow and a servo that controls the throttle on an RC airplane went nuts. Â I think it may be time for some time away from the keyboard.
I believe my new saying for hard disks should go something like this:
“There are no such things as good, dependable or safe disks. Â There are just disks that have failed and those that will fail.”
On the recommendation of some people on the Internet, I bought and tested a Samsung F1 Spinpoint 1TB SATA drive. Â It seemed great: it was big, fast, very quiet and energy efficient. Â Windows seemed to like it and a couple of my other PCs with very finicky SATA controllers took a shine to it as well. Â After about a month or so of using it I decided to purchase 5 more, 4 to put into my ReadyNAS storage box and one “spare” to use for shuttling data around. I also convinced a partner of mine to pony up for an additional 4 drives for his NAS. Â All seemed right in the world.
About two weeks ago I started noticing my ReadyNAS box getting slower and slower when trying to copy files from it or put files on it. Â It also has a web page where the admin tasks get done, and most days I was fortunate to see that page in two to three minutes after trying it. Â Great, I thought, some kind of firmware mess up (the box can offer and upgrade its own firmware) has happened. Â So I slapped on a new version of the firmware, rebooted the NAS, and then nothing. Truly nothing, as in no web page, no network shares, no ping returns. Â A few more reboots and things appeared to be working, so I left it alone to worry about it another day.
In the meantime I reformatted my main PC to be a full time Windows 7 x64 RC1 machine, so I fed it my existing Samsung 1TB drive to run from. Â That worked for about 24 hours, then Win7 just stopped responding. Â Thinking that I fouled it somehow (it happens, I go nuts on new installs from time to time) I hammered the whole install and did it again. Â This time around it lasted for about 6 hours before Win7 coughed up an error message that roughly translated said:
“Dude (it’s California, work with me here), this drive is busted and you should back it up. Oh, and I won’t let you write to it any more. Have a nice day.”
Flash forward to June 19, just 24 hours after the desktop drive was rejected by Windows and now the NAS just disappeared. Â I checked it to verify that it still had power but beyond that it did nothing but sit there and blink. Â Reboot and try again. Â The NAS works, but very slowly. Â I finally get the admin web page up to view what the matter might be. Â To my surprise there are no alerts in its log of “very bad things” that happen on it when I’m not looking, but there is another page where I can see the raw details of each disk’s S.M.A.R.T. report. Â This is where all the scary data is on errors, retries and the like. Â Imagine my surprise to find that one of my disks, labeled “2” by the NAS, has gone off the deep end with over 100K of errors in less than a weeks time. Â I shut the box down and pulled that drive, replacing it with that “spare” Samsung I had been using as my portable disk. Â 26 hours later the NAS is up and running and it seems happy again, but I’m not so sure.
Along with my panic and rage, I notice that a few of my machines are running slowly when connecting to each other on my network or talking to the Internet. Â That’s odd, I say to myself, since I often have self referential conversations, my network is all Gigabit Ethernet enabled save for a few older devices. Â I check the gigabit switch and find that at least two of the ports are lit at 10/100 speeds. Â The PCs confirm this and I sit puzzled. Â It worked last week, I thought, but now it’s gone and slowed itself down for no reason? Â A quick check of the Internets using some Google-foo and I have my answer, this Netgear 8 port switch, the GS608, has a history of dying slowly and taking one port at a time down to a crawl. Â It just decided to make itself known to me while I’m fighting my hard disks.
Normally, three big failures at once is plenty, but since this is my life I had to make it more exciting. Â I drove off to the RC airfield to fly my “reliable” airplane and the servo that controls the throttle goes nuts. It decides there are two settings: full on and off. Â Stranger still is the fact that this has never happened on any airplane I’ve had before and after tinkering with the airplane and changing nothing it “cures” itself. Â Knowing the week I’ve just had I packed everything up in the truck and took my toys home.
I’m not sure what the moral of this story is supposed to be, other than when I seem to have bad luck in a portion of my world it happens in clumps. Â I’ll certainly want to be extra careful the next time I get in something fast and dangerous to go somewhere… come to think of it my car was just in the shop for a safety system malfunction. Hmmm….