Cloning a dying hard-drive

Being able to spot a dying hard drive is more of an art then an exact science…. Many factors are attributed to total failure.  I have found that heat, noises and bad performance are the 3 major giveaways. Hard drives have different ways of dying, however, and the worst (most unpredictable way) is the controller PCB failing. It’s hard to diagnose, and can be harder to retrieve data from it.

The best chance you have of saving data is to think about replacing a hard drive before complete malfunction. Plan A is more important; performing regular backups.
A couple of years ago, I was fleeced… I bought Norton Ghost without expecting support to end shortly after…. with the eventual discontinuation of the product completely.  I remember when Ghost was always at the top of my toolbox.

Required to copy the entire drive to a new one, I needed an alternative… and Acronis True Image 2017 came up trumps!  It now sits proudly at the top of my toolbox.

Internal Storage – A Ponder At Prices

Anyone in the market for a harddrive at the moment may be having a hard time. It’s not as simple as it once was; you’ll be looking at many different factors.

Speed, reliability, capacity, bus interface, and more importantly price.

You’ll have an even harder time if you already have an SSD and a traditional harddrive. If the SSD fails, it’s a no brainer. But how about if your HDD is on the way out? What do you replace it with? This question is what I’m asking.

For the time being, I’m negating alot of the variables that’s been mentioned and just focusing on price. I’ve trawled through almost all the harddrives on one particular UK computer retailer and started to play around with the numbers. I’ve concentrated again on only SATA devices as they are my most likely replacement.

On average, they all look to be on a linear price point when it comes to GB per £; except those of smaller capacity. At this level, I am talking about the jump in price of HDD 0.5 – 1tb and in SSD, 60-120 GB. in both cases, the “sweetspot” is the latter with a small jump in price for double the capacity. It’s both weird and confusing to think there is a genuine demand for a lesser product. It’s not so obvious in the following graph as this is a combined average of many products in the same category.

Comparison of SATA drive prices – December 2016

Again, there are 2 more interesting points with this graph. The jump in price for SSD products around the 1TB capacity and the striking difference between capacity of the top end scales of both SSD and HDD. SSD has yet, a long way to go.

Now lastly, I have picked desktop grade components for these results with a mixture of both top and bottom end products. Some lines of drive had really poor reveiws and others, really good. They were all sourced from the same site and in my veiw gives use an accurate comparison of prices in the UK.

This may well be day and night for some, but it will be interesting to do another comparison in a year to see how far things have moved forwards. If someone were to tell me we’re at a data crossroads, I couldn’t deny that.

HDD benchmarks

Interested how a SATAII compared with a new SATAIII drive, I decided to do a quick benchmark to compare the results.
In this benchmark I will be comparing the Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD (S-ATA III), Seagate ST3320613AS 320GB 7200-rpm 16mb cache (S-ATA II) and a Western Digital Blue 2TB 5400-rpm 64mb cache (S-ATA III).

I am primarily doing this to compare the transfer rates of a faster, low cache S-ATA II mechanical drive with a slower, high cache S-ATA III mechanical drive. The reason, I hear you ask?
S-ATA III bus speed is rated at 6gbs compared with 3gb/s on the older S-ATA II interface.
A mechanical drive will never use up the whole bus width of S-ATA because of the way they operate, (all down to spindle speed and head speed) so my theory is that the faster the drive, the better I/O you will ultimately receive thus faster write and read speeds.

I used ATTO Disk Benchmark for the benchmarks and Piriform Speccy for the datasheets.

Looking at the results, I was quite surprised. To see a slower speed drive out perform a faster drive was not what I expected to see. As you can see, the HDD’s do not even fill half the bandwidth of S-ATA II bus speed, whilst the SSD is 100mb/s shy of hitting the top end S-ATA III speeds.

There could be a number of factors at play here; looking more closely at the Seagate’s spec sheets, it has endured alot of uptime and probably more spin-up’s then the WD will ever have. Also the test isn’t quite as scientific as having 2 “identical”  drives with varying speeds and that’s probably where you will see results.

On the back of this, I’m quite impressed to have had the Seagate lasting this long; the internet is littered with bad omens of Seagate’s from years of old! It might be time to replace this one whilst I’m still winning!

Playstation 4 HDD Upgrade

After much umm-ing and aar-ing about upgrading the PS4 hard-drive, the monumental amount of data I just delete to play something new has tipped the balance.
I’m quite annoyed with the situation to be honest, when the PS4 was released, surely someone at Sony could have worked out the average amount of games someone would play in 3 years, and then decide if the 500gb hard-drive is enough for not only the game files, but also the videos, screenshots and saved game data too.

This obviously wasn’t decided in spite, but they kind of expect users to sell the 500gb PS4 to then fork out more for the 1TB model. Seriously? They obviously aren’t a fan at people upgrading the hard-drive on their own as they don’t sell “official” upgrade packages for user installed HDD’s!

I kind of feel sorry for those “casual” gamers who know nothing about the relationship of the components and literally purchase a new PS4 for more space.
Anyway, I’ve purchased a 2TB Samsung ST2000LM003 hard-disk to install into my PS4 from Scan.co.uk. The capacity may be a bit overkill right now, but in a few years time, I might be pretty thankful for that decision!