Re: Offline Drives

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Re: Offline Drives

Postby kmarx » 2021.09.11. 11:59

Hi, looks like I need some help ...

I have a bunch (>100) of them, archiving tv recordings once a week after cutting/editing them on the 'collector disk' and move them via sata hot swap case to the matching archive disks, to regain space. With a tiny batch file redirecting the directory output of these drives to a central folder the content remains searchable with the drives back in the shelf.

To monitor the health/history of these disks the 'offline drives' functionality of HDS would be very useful, but ...

1. Volume Label not included.
These disks are labeled physical and logical with a tag (e.g. "mov_aa-am", "comedy1", "docu_12") but the volume labels are not visible, neither showing up in the 'information' tab nor in the list of offline drives.

2. It further seems to me that this much appreciated feature of collecting information of disks that are not always in use might not be as reliable as needed. I have to emphasize that the author is not to blame for this, the hotswap reliability by hardware vendor is a pain in the *ss. Without Kazuyuki Nakayama's little "HotSwap" Tool it wouldn't be possible at all with some mainboard/hba/BIOS/SATA setups.
Is it possible to force HDS to add the current drive to the database?

3. After selecting a hot swapped drive in the main window of HDS the drive is not swappable anymore because it is considered as "in use". After committing the message the drive disappears from the drive list in hardware manager, further attempts to eject other removable drives fail because they are also considered 'in use'. HDS has to be restarted for normal operation.

I will off course ask the author of HotSwap if he can do something to prevent misleading inerpretations of locking mechanisms that might be in place. I'm no programmer, just improvising, sorry!
Thank You!
Rainer
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Re: Offline Drives

Postby hdsentinel » 2021.09.13. 11:09

> 1. Volume Label not included.

Yes, this is completely normal and expected behaviour....

In order to display volume-related information (logical drive, volume label, used/free space etc.), we need the drive to be connected to enumerate these details.
However, when the disk drive is offline (not connected) then Hard Disk Sentinel does not able to detect its volume label.

I'd suggest to use the "Comment" section of the disk drive: when it is connected, you can specify a comment in the "Click to add comment" line in the middle of the Overview page.
This comment is saved for the actual physical disk drive and used exactly for the purpose to allow us to enter any string to identify the disk drive: its contents, location, warranty date, etc... and this comment displayed in the File menu -> Open status of offline disk(s) window, exactly to allow us to identify the disk drive(s) easily.


> 2. It further seems to me that this much appreciated feature of collecting information of disks that are not always in use might not be as reliable as needed.

Sorry, but I do not really understand what do you mean....


> Is it possible to force HDS to add the current drive to the database?

Hard Disk Sentinel automatically adds the current drive to the database when it is used for some time. It may not added if it just connected and then quickly disconnected, but if the disk drive remains connected for some minutes (for multiple consecutive disk status checks), its status is automatically recorded, regardess the way how the disk drive is connected (connected before startup of the software and/or after Hard Disk Sentinel started).


> After selecting a hot swapped drive in the main window of HDS the drive is not swappable anymore because it is considered as "in use".

Sorry, but I again do not really understand what do you mean....
What do you mean "hot swapped" drive?
Do you mean a drive just inserted (plugged in)?
Or a drive just disconnected (removed)?

Generally HDS does NOT (in any ways) keeps the drive "in use". Hard Disk Sentinel does not prevent disk ejecting (if you mean that) or so.

> After committing the message the drive disappears from the drive list in hardware manager, further attempts to eject other removable drives
> fail because they are also considered 'in use'. HDS has to be restarted for normal operation.

If you need to use some 3rd party disk-ejecting tools, it is possible that the disk removal event is not sent in Windows - so it is possible that Hard Disk Sentinel may not "know" that the disk configuration changed - so the disk drive may not automatically "vanish" from the list of physical drives. If this happens, you can use the leftmost button in the main window (two blue arrows, forming a circle) to re-read the status and update - so there is not need to "restart for normal operation".

The same button may help if a newly inserted drive does not automatically appears (which is generally a limitation of the disk controller or its driver).

If you use Report menu -> Send test report to developer option, I can check the actual disk controller and its driver - as it is possible that a driver update (or in worst case a BIOS/firmware update) can make the controller to work better so then things can work easier.

Also you can send some image(s) to info (at) hdsentinel (dot) com to illustrate/explain what you can see - as these may help to understand the situation.
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Re: Offline Drives

Postby kmarx » 2021.09.14. 00:22

Sorry for the delay and thank you for spending your time on this.

1. and 2. solved, but I would suggest to give the user some kind of indicator whether the disk is 'catalogued'.

3. Reliability after disk change: I Did some investigations on that ...

Drive inserted -> 5 seconds later: drive appears on list in HDS
transferred 26 GB
14 minutes later, forced eject w HotSwap -> windows error: 'The device WDC WD20EARS-00MVWB0 cannot be uninstalled right now because the device requested a system restart'
drive disappears from drive list in device manager and from the HoSwap drive list
drive still showing up in HDS drive list
clicked on "update disk information" in HDS -> no change
drive doesn't show up in the list of offline drives either
terminated HDS, start program again -> drive is still listed like before (!)
physically ejected that drive, 2 seconds later it disappeared from the HDS list
drive is now listed (with the comment field used as 'label') in the list of offline drives, great!
inserted drive again (without system restart) -> seconds later it shows up in HDS drive list
drive c is now highlighted, on my first try I highlighted the fresh inserted drive
ejected via hotswap program -> no error from hotswap, drive disappears immediately from HDS, great!

I want to stress the different behaviour: If the drive to be ejected is selected in HDS it will give the "in use error" from windows, if any non removable drive is selected, it works like expected.

> Generally HDS does NOT (in any ways) keeps the drive "in use". Hard Disk Sentinel does not prevent disk ejecting (if you mean that) or so.

Yes, that's exactly what I mean. Who is to blame then ...? Could it be possible that if you call certain system calls in windows (gather disk information) the OS does the locking anyway, whether you intent to or not?


Quote from the HotSwap homepage regarding 'device locking':

---begin quote---

Why "The device 'X' cannot be uninstalled right now because the device requested a system restart." error pops up?

Although HotSwap! ensures that the volumes are not in use before attempting to remove the device, however, Windows will deny removing the device if there is any reference remains on the device. This is often caused by the file system filter driver not handling the detach request appropriately but it is also caused by the file system itself. If this problem persists, you have to restart the system. If you have anti-virus software installed on your system, you may try uninstalling it to see if it fixes the problem.

As of Version 6.0.0.0, the volumes are taken offline before the device being removed, the device is now more successfully removed.

---end quote---

Are there different ways of signalizing OS wide, that a device is in use and cannot be removed?
Are there different ways of requesting this information from the OS?
Do programmers use the same system calls or whaterver is used for the purpose of device management?

I hope you don't mind that I invited the author of HotSwap to participate in this thread, maybe this makes two indispensable programs even better.
I will send a test report for you too.
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Re: Offline Drives

Postby hdsentinel » 2021.09.14. 10:16

> 1. and 2. solved, but I would suggest to give the user some kind of indicator whether the disk is 'catalogued'.

Thanks for the tip, will think about it.

> 14 minutes later, forced eject w HotSwap -> windows error: 'The device WDC WD20EARS-00MVWB0 cannot be uninstalled right now because the device requested a system restart'
> drive disappears from drive list in device manager and from the HoSwap drive list
> drive still showing up in HDS drive list
> clicked on "update disk information" in HDS -> no change

If this happens, then the disk drive is still present in the system. Please check Windows Disk Management: probably that would show the disk drive (even if it is no longer displayed in the device manager, as it is about to remove - but still present).

In this case yes, Hard Disk Sentinel also still "see" the drive and display it as a present disk drive.

> drive doesn't show up in the list of offline drives either

While the disk drive is present in the system, it is not in the list of "offline drives", it is normal.

> terminated HDS, start program again -> drive is still listed like before (!)

It is completely normal and expected - as the disk drive is still in the system: then Hard Disk Sentinel (as expected) still detects and shows it.

> physically ejected that drive, 2 seconds later it disappeared from the HDS list

Yes, it is normal: when the disk drive really removed, HDS noticed the change of the configuration and then the disk disappear.

> drive is now listed (with the comment field used as 'label') in the list of offline drives, great!

Yes of course, as expected: its state previously saved - but until the drive is physically present (listed in the main window) the list of offline drives do not show it.

> inserted drive again (without system restart) -> seconds later it shows up in HDS drive list

Yes, it is expected.

> drive c is now highlighted, on my first try I highlighted the fresh inserted drive
> ejected via hotswap program -> no error from hotswap, drive disappears immediately from HDS, great!

Yes, this is expected to happen.


> I want to stress the different behaviour: If the drive to be ejected is selected in HDS it will give the "in use error" from windows, if any non removable drive is selected, it works like expected.

HDS does not "use", does not "keep" any drive used, regardless of which drive is selected in HDS.


> Yes, that's exactly what I mean. Who is to blame then ...?
> Could it be possible that if you call certain system calls in windows (gather disk information) the OS does the locking anyway, whether you intent to or not?

Hard Disk Sentinel periodically detects the status information. By default, this happens once per every 5 minutes (and you can control at Configuration -> Advanced Options page, if you move the Detection Frequency slider).
The detection is usually a question of milliseconds - so if you are "lucky" to try the safe remove exactly during that, then yes, it is possible that the drive is "locked". But there is very small chance for that.
Between two consecutive detections, Hard Disk Sentinel does not "lock" the drive and does not access it, exactly to prevent removal-problems.

> Quote from the HotSwap homepage regarding 'device locking':

Yes, this is completely normal and known.
For example, antivirus software or something else (eg. Windows indexing service, defragmentation, etc...) can perform background activity - and can "lock" the drive, for example if it wants to know if there is a new file saved, file modified etc...
An open Explorer window or Total Commander window or similar can also "lock" the partition as they designed to show/react immediately when a file modified/saved.

But Hard Disk Sentinel does not do that - this is why I wrote that it performs no locking in general.


> I hope you don't mind that I invited the author of HotSwap to participate in this thread, maybe this makes two indispensable programs even better.

No problems at all, exactly the opposite ;)
Hopefully together we'll also have some ideas, thoughts.
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Re: Offline Drives

Postby kmarx » 2021.09.14. 14:15

Hello hdsentinel,

I just tried to reproduce the following procedure and analyze it with 'process explorer':

>> 14 minutes later, forced eject w HotSwap -> windows error: 'The device WDC WD20EARS-00MVWB0 cannot be uninstalled right now because the device requested a system restart'
>> drive disappears from drive list in device manager and from the HoSwap drive list
>> drive still showing up in HDS drive list
>> clicked on "update disk information" in HDS -> no change

Tried it three times in less than 5 minutes, can't provoke the error. I will make another attempt and give it more time.

> An open Explorer window or Total Commander window or similar can also "lock" the partition as they designed to show/react immediately when a file modified/saved.
> But Hard Disk Sentinel does not do that - this is why I wrote that it performs no locking in general.

Yes, indexing of all the disks from my 'library' is off in general, interestingly Total Commander behaves very friendly and only refreshes the window of the ejected drive with the contents of the default drive. Even open documents or pictures are opened as copies in the TEMP folder and don't interfere.

Thank you, so far, I just tried a fourth time, everything is smooth an easy, seems my system simply goes nuts now and then.

(If the quotes look a bit funny, don't worry, I didn't understand the editor)

Kind regards,
kmarx
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