Diagnosing potential Linux drive failures

Strongback Consulting

While working on server today I came across some odd issues in some applications. While checking the logs, I found some drive errors in the warn log file (Failed SMART usage Attribute: 7 Seek_Error_Rate). In searching for the cause of this error, I think discovered a nifty little tool that will tell you the health of physical disk drives as reported by the SMART controller. SMART stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology Systems, and is a technology built into most disk systems. 

Two switches will get you going
smartctl -i <drive>
smartctl -Hc <drive>

The following output shows how my troublesome drive is on its way to a nearby recycling plant. Notice that the health check (Hc) shows that the drive is in pre-fail state. 

websrver1:/var/log # smartctl -Hc /dev/sdh
smartctl 5.39 2009-08-08 r2872~ [x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu] (openSUSE RPM)
Copyright (C) 2002-9 by Bruce Allen, http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: FAILED!
Drive failure expected in less than 24 hours. SAVE ALL DATA.
Failed Attributes:
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   041   041   140    Pre-fail  Always   FAILING_NOW 1265

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:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
                                        without error or no self-test has ever
                                        been run.
Total time to complete Offline
data collection:                 (12000) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:                    (0x7b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
                                        Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
                                        Suspend Offline collection upon new
                                        Offline surface scan supported.
                                        Self-test supported.
                                        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.
                                        General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   2) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:        ( 140) minutes.
Conveyance self-test routine
recommended polling time:        (   5) minutes.
SCT capabilities:              (0x303f) SCT Status supported.
                                        SCT Feature Control supported.
                                        SCT Data Table supported.
These tips were found on a link from Linux Journal. Hope they help you as well as they did me! Now, I just need to find a matching drive for this to replace in the RAID5 array. Hmmm…

One Response to “Diagnosing potential Linux drive failures

  • I've recently move to Linux OS as we decided to use Linux as well here and your tips here are really useful. Checked all my devices with health check – fortunately, looks like they're working well at the moment.

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