Ubuntu Demon\’s blog

October 29, 2007

Laptop Hardrive Killer Bug – should get critical status

Filed under: english — ubuntudemon @ 2:21 pm

People on the ubuntuforums are worrying about this problem because quite some people seem to be suffering from it. Just do a search for Load_Cycle_Count on the ubuntuforums. Here are some threads as an example :

Harddrive manufacturers seem to claim most harddrives can handle at least 600.000 Load_Cycles but this is probably an average under ideal circumstances. My harddrive started to die slowly when at a Load_Cycle_Count of 200.000.

IMHO this bug should get critical status because it’s killing people’s harddrives.

The following things might cause aggressive power management :

  • your (laptop) harddrive firmware might have aggressive power management defaults (operating system independent)
  • your (laptop) BIOS might set your harddrive to use aggressive power management (operating system independent)
  • you might have enabled laptop-mode in /etc/default/acpi-support (disabled by default) which will set your harddrive to use aggressive power management

People with laptops who haven’t enabled laptop-mode and think they are suffering from this problem might consider adding the following information to the bug report :

  • the output of $sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda
  • the age of your disk
  • an estimate of the total hours your disk has been running since you started using it (to compare to Power_on_Hours because that value might be off)
  • an estimate of the average increase of Load_Cycle_Count during one hour on AC (before applying any “ugly” fixes)

I blogged earlier about this problem :

Read here what Matthew Garret an Ubuntu Developer has said about this problem.

14 Comments »

  1. To track trends on your laptop, try putting this into root’s crontab (sudo crontab -uroot -e):

    */20 * * * * echo “`date` : ” `(/usr/sbin/smartctl -a /dev/sda | grep ‘Load_Cycle_Count’)` >> ~[YOUR_USERNAME]/Desktop/Load_Cycle_Counts

    This will put a file on your desktop with the Load Cycle Count entered every 20 minutes. Its owned by root:root so as to be a permanent reminder of the cron job you’re running.

    Comment by DoBeAClueBee — October 29, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

  2. Dude, could you please get a new Hackergotchi? I mean how old are you? 16?

    Comment by Pansen — October 29, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  3. I too would idealy like to see this bug either:
    – Get critical status
    – Have clarified from a hdd manf what load count can kill hdd’s

    It seems Matthew Garret’s main reason for not wanting this bug to receive critical status, is that it ubuntu is just going on the bios hdd pm settings.
    Which in most cases is we should be changing the bios settings and all is well.
    BUT, I have changed EVERY bios setting and my load count still increases at the same high amount.

    Either Dell didnt put sufficient control in the bios, the bios is broken, the high load count is ok for my hdd, or this bug should be marked critical.

    What’s holding them back from marking it as critical, getting someone to resanitize the default, and allow control over the setting for those who want control.

    What’s so hard about that?

    Comment by Karl Bowden — October 29, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

  4. to Karl Bowden:
    It’s not only your BIOS which might set these aggressive power management settings.

    The following things might cause aggressive power management :

    * your (laptop) harddrive firmware might have aggressive power management defaults (operating system independent)
    * your (laptop) BIOS might set your harddrive to use aggressive power management (operating system independent)
    * you might have enabled laptop-mode in /etc/default/acpi-support (disabled by default) which will set your harddrive to use aggressive power management

    It’s might be hard to find sane defaults. I agree that this bug should get a higher status.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 30, 2007 @ 9:55 am

  5. to DoBeAClueBee:

    Thanks for sharing your idea. Your crontab line has some small error somewhere though. Only the date gets added into the file on the desktop.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 30, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

  6. Ubuntu is NOT causing aggressive power management.

    The following things might instead cause aggressive power management settings :

    * your (laptop) harddrive firmware might have aggressive power management defaults (operating system independent)
    * your (laptop) BIOS might set your harddrive to use aggressive power management (operating system independent)
    * you might have enabled laptop-mode in /etc/default/acpi-support (disabled by default) which will set your harddrive to use aggressive power management

    These aggressive power management settings are set by your BIOS or harddrive firmware. Windows and/or Mac OS X might be overriding these settings which might make Ubuntu look bad if Ubuntu doesn’t override these settings.

    Read here what Matthew Garret an experienced and well known Ubuntu Developer has said about this problem :
    http://www.advogato.org/person/mjg59/diary/82.html

    for more information see :
    https://ubuntudemon.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/ubuntu-is-not-causing-aggressive-power-management/

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 30, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  7. I’m a big fan of Ubuntu. I don’t want to see Ubuntu hurt because it’s not Ubuntu who is setting these aggressive power management defaults.

    Some background of the problem :

    If your harddrive spins down and spins up again your Load_Cycle_Count increases by one. If your harddrive head parks and unparks again your Load_Cycle_Count increases by one.

    You don’t want your Load_Cycle_Count to increase too fast.

    Harddrive manufacturers seem to claim most harddrives can handle at least 600.000 Load_Cycles but this is probably an average under ideal circumstances. My harddrive started to die slowly when at a Load_Cycle_Count of 200.000.

    Ubuntu is NOT causing aggressive power management.

    The following things might instead cause aggressive power management settings :

    * your (laptop) harddrive firmware might have aggressive power management defaults (operating system independent)
    * your (laptop) BIOS might set your harddrive to use aggressive power management (operating system independent)
    * you might have enabled laptop-mode in /etc/default/acpi-support (disabled by default) which will set your harddrive to use aggressive power management

    These aggressive power management settings are set by your BIOS or harddrive firmware. Windows and/or Mac OS X might be overriding these settings which might make Ubuntu look bad if Ubuntu doesn’t override these settings.

    Read here what Matthew Garret an experienced and well known Ubuntu Developer has said about this problem :
    http://www.advogato.org/person/mjg59/diary/82.html

    for more information see :
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/acpi-support/+bug/59695
    https://ubuntudemon.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/ubuntu-is-not-causing-aggressive-power-management


    If you think you might be suffering from this problem here’s an ugly fix :
    the ugly fix

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 31, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  8. The smartctl values aren’t always easy to interpret. If the Load_Cycle_Counter value behaves as a counter and is below impossible to reach values it’s probably the right number.

    You can also look at “WORST” and “TRESHOLD” (|more instead of |grep to easily see which value is “WORST” and which value is “TRESHOLD”) :
    $ sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda | more

    If WORST is lowering (too fast) than you might be suffering from this problem. You can roughly calculate how long it will take for WORST to reach TRESHOLD if you keep watching those values daily/weekly. The closer WORST (starts at 100 or 200 from what I have seen) is to THRESHOLD the likelier it is for your drive to die from a high Load_Cycle_Count.

    From https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/acpi-support/+bug/17216/comments/40 :
    [quote=Brian Visel]

    Something to bear in mind as well:

    smartmon does not always report SMART values as you might think. Different values are stored in different ways by different manufacturers.

    Namely, if you do the smartctl check, wait for the click, and do it again immediately after, you may find that the amount has increased by more than one. In this case, it’s a pretty safe bet that the number you’re seeing isn’t accurate.

    Also, it’s a pretty safe bet (though not guaranteed) that you can get the real value by dividing by the amount it increments by. So, if the value you see first is 477,296, and then it clicks once, and the value is 477,312 (difference of 16), it’s a pretty safe bet that the number you’re really dealing with is more along the lines of 29,831 to 29,832, in which case you have no worries.

    [/quote]

    If you think you might be suffering from this problem you might want to apply the ugly fix :
    https://ubuntudemon.wordpress.com/2007/10/26/laptop-hardrive-killer-bug/#comment-31234

    If you think your harddrive might start dying soon you should make backups of all your data and run the diagnostic tool of your harddrive manufacturer.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 31, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  9. Dude, could this cause problems in my non-laptop PC hardware ?

    Comment by Tech Roach — October 31, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

  10. to Tech Roach:

    It can’t hurt to check. But as far as I can tell these aggressive power management settings are most likely to happen for laptop BIOSes and firmwares of 2.5″ laptop drives (which might be inside external drive cages).

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 31, 2007 @ 9:37 pm

  11. I have combined all active threads about the “laptop harddrive Load_Cycle_Count issue” on the ubuntuforums.

    People who have support questions can ask them here :
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=591503

    Comment by ubuntudemon — November 1, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  12. I have visited your site 587-times

    Comment by Visitor792 — November 17, 2007 @ 9:36 pm

  13. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

    Comment by Idetrorce — December 15, 2007 @ 12:26 pm


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