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2010 December 17 [Friday]

Smartmontools load_cycle_count

Dear Lazyweb,

If you have installed "smartmontools" on your laptop on Ubuntu-Lucid, has it been behaving erratically after the last update about a week ago?

me@ubuntu:~$ sudo smartctl -s on -a /dev/sda 

smartctl version 5.38 [i686-pc-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-8 Bruce Allen
Home page is http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/

Model Family:     Seagate Momentus 5400.3
Device Model:     ST9160821AS
Serial Number:    5MA1LL40
Firmware Version: 3.BHD
User Capacity:    160,041,885,696 bytes
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   7
ATA Standard is:  Exact ATA specification draft version not indicated
Local Time is:    Fri Dec 17 11:09:46 2010 UTC
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

SMART Enabled.

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
See vendor-specific Attribute list for marginal Attributes.

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x82)    Offline data collection activity
                    was completed without error.
                    Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (  21)    The self-test routine was aborted by
                    the host.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:          ( 426) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:              (0x53) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                    Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                    Suspend Offline collection upon new
                    No Offline surface scan supported.
                    Self-test supported.
                    No Conveyance Self-test supported.
                    Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003)    Saves SMART data before entering
                    power-saving mode.
                    Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01)    Error logging supported.
                    No General Purpose Logging support.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:      (   2) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:      (  88) minutes.
SCT capabilities:            (0x0001)    SCT Status supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000f   105   096   006    Pre-fail  Always       -       9940165
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0002   099   098   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0033   098   098   020    Pre-fail  Always       -       2683
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   036    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000f   072   060   030    Pre-fail  Always       -       17255855270
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   096   096   000    Old_age   Always       -       3998
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   034    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0033   098   098   020    Pre-fail  Always       -       2155
187 Reported_Uncorrect      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
189 High_Fly_Writes         0x003a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
190 Airflow_Temperature_Cel 0x0022   049   035   045    Old_age   Always   In_the_past 51 (15 36 54 47)
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1159
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   001   001   000    Old_age   Always       -       227684
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   051   065   000    Old_age   Always       -       51 (0 18 0 0)
195 Hardware_ECC_Recovered  0x001a   078   060   000    Old_age   Always       -       64509422
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0010   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       1
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x003e   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
200 Multi_Zone_Error_Rate   0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
202 TA_Increase_Count       0x0032   100   253   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Extended offline    Aborted by host               50%      2943         -
# 2  Extended offline    Aborted by host               70%      2699         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

As you can see here, there is no LCC for desktop server hard-disks and its especially meant for laptop HDD, where I'm interested in limiting the Load_Cycle_Count (LCC) to increment only with each boot cycle. Yeah, it has inherent risks, but...

193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   001   001   000    Old_age   Always       -       227825

However, since (the lucid update) last week, running 'smartctl' has not worked its magic since the count has incremented from 227684 to 227825 within an hour. I've been randomly checking it every other hour or so to find the LCC racing away.

Is this a sign that the HDD is dying? Is this a hardware issue or has the code-base changed to require a rebuild? What am I missing here?

2008 April 20 [Sunday]

HP-Compaq hardware quality takes a hike

The HP saga of woes continues ....... After insisting that an international warranty means it is one, the service centre amid chants of "best effort basis", "we dont support out-of-country purchase you know" , etc... replaced the faulty motherboard with another faulty one and when this was pointed out to be a display (bios?) problem, they insisted in giving the typical brush-off :- "It is a linux problem" ... hmpf !! According to the HP-enginners, "Linux" was the cause of all my hardware issues. Yeah, right! What that actually means is, "We know zilch about Linux AND dont want to solve the real hardware problem (read replace faulty parts within the warranty) so here is the modus operandi we employ:

1] Delay till the warranty period is close to the end period.

2] If not, delay and grumpily replace the MotherBoard with another faulty one (i discovered that no quality checks were done before replacing it.)

3] Somewhere down the line it will go kaput and voila... there is your business opportunity to take half the cost of the laptop from your customer. This is the best way to be in perpetual business.

IMHO, mumbai's dabbawallah's know what Quality is all about and deliver it with almost zero margin errors.

Well, by now I'd been arguing till I was blue in the face and was inside the secret cave (Its a restricted area where no outsiders are allowed, and only select HP employees have special cards to go in) and was not leaving unless they took a good look at the motherboard problem. Finally the technical head came down and his face brightened up on seeing Linux and i showed him the display problem. He accepted that it may be an incompatible chipset and sent it for observation. It was surprising to note that HP service centres dont even have a testing mount for this model - I was told the standard excuse - your laptop was an out-of-India purchase. So what? Why cant HP provide them with basic infrastructure like testing mounts for each MoBo and chipset model. Before replacing parts no quality testing is done. The bubble-wrapping around the MoBo is removed and hardware is screwed onto the machine. No quality testing or quality checks to see if the replaced hardware could be faulty or not.... that sucks bigtime ! Meanwhile another engineer told me the centre manager fired him for accepting (telling me) that there is a hardware problem with the Motherboard.
The typical reply one keeps hearing is "will only support Windows". Heck i didnt ask you to support Linux but dont blame a hardware issue on Linux. Just because the HP customer service centre is outsourced (...for almost all hardware sellers actually) and you need to generate revenue (understandable) dont be _only_ concerned about making money at the expense of the customer.

2008 April 1 [Tuesday]

dont buy HP-Compaq laptops

Nope, this is not an 01-April joke. I decided to blog about this based on first-hand negative experience with HP-Compaq laptops this past week. Their service centre in Bangalore is horrible as far as customer service is concerned. My laptop is under a 1-year warranty and they have diagnosed the problem (the mother-board is kaput and needs to be replaced, the screen has dead pixels), but yet, they are pussy-footing on the issue. I was told it would take 6 months for parts to arrive from Singapore.

Apparently no chip/component level repair done in India so if the motherboard has to be replaced they will follow procedure, which is :

* Send email to logistics manager and wait for a reply since they have no clue if said part is available in India. No clue when he will reply but its according to company procedure.
* After sending an email they _wait_ for the concerned person to reply which could take forever and meanwhile if your warranty gets over, be prepared to fork out a wad of cash.
* Incase, they receive a reply on the parts, which is subject to availability since that particular model (V6320) is not manufactured anymore, the motherboard needs to be shipped to India (from Singapore) and they have no clue _when and if_ that will happen. In the person's own words : "It can take 2 weeks but will take 6 months. We cant commit anything".

In conclusion, instead of fast-tracking the same before the warranty gets over they are pussy-footing and giving excuses so that they can ask me to pay a fat sum for the motherboard replacement when the warranty gets over 3 weeks hence. Else (according to the local HP-compaq manager) I am supposed to take it back to the country of purchase and get it repaired there despite possessing an international warranty.

Nice customer service there HP. Bleed your customer for all they are worth.

I've learnt my lesson. I'll vote with my money next time and wont buy HP-Compaq laptops and a big thank you for the lousy customer service!