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How to Reduce Hard Drive Downtime

David Benyon, Testing Operative May 28, 2019

The last thing you want is for your hard drives to fail. Here are some tips on how to prevent hard drive failure and therefore downtime.

1.      Keep hard drives cool

The most common reason why hard drives fail is due to overheating. This is a completely preventable failure and is the number one most important care tip for hard drives! To keep hard drives cool in a server, you want to make sure you have enough fans and have blanks in unused expansion slots to guide airflow to the active drives.

2.      Make sure they are mounted properly and aren’t subject to vibrations

Another enemy of the hard drive is vibration. Although enterprise hard drives are ‘beefed up’ to cope with vibration since they create vibration themselves and are designed to be used next to other spinning drives, you need to make efforts to ensure hard drives aren’t subject to any unnecessary vibrations. For example, don’t put your server room in a warehouse where forklifts continuously drive past. Also, ensure the hard drives are in a proper caddie that is designed for that specific enclosure, are mounted properly and that screws are done up tight.

3.      Keep hard drives clean

Over time, dust can build up in the caddies and impede the airflow causing the hard drive to overheat. To prevent this, remember to occasionally eject the hard drive (subject to redundancy setup) and give the caddie and enclosure a good dust! Electric air blowers work great for this. There is no need to spend lots on compressed air cans.

4.      Avoid unexpected shutdowns

Avoid unexpected shutdowns and make sure that hard drives are powered down gracefully when power is lost. This will both help with data loss due to incomplete operations and it will also reduce the “soft” remapped sector count on a drive that could adversely affect the S.M.A.R.T health of the drive. A great way to avoid this would be by using a line interrupt UPS. This will both condition the power coming into your server by removing transient voltage in your incoming AC power and provide you with a power buffer to shut your system down properly.

5.      If you’re not using the hard drive, let it spin down

If you have a large storage array with a lot of hard drives, there are significant power savings to be made by powering down hard drives that are not in use. Most hard drives have a published mean time between failures (MTBF) which is a statistical term relating to the reliability of a drive expressed in power on hours. Although MTBF is usually quoted as being somewhere between 100,000 and 1 million hours, inevitably, the more hours a hard drive is running for, the more likely it is to fail. So, if you don’t need to have it running, let it spin down!

 


 

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