Problem with drive or controller?

Experiences with hard disks, SSDs, USB devices, hard disk controllers, motherboards and so.

Problem with drive or controller?

Postby jolt77 » 2016.06.06. 03:00

I am not sure what is causing this SMART error that Hard Drive Sentinel has flagged. The SMART error is "#10 Spin Retry Count", it jumped to a value of 1,684,275,218 in one day from 0. It is a storage drive and it is just used as needed in a e-sata docking station, so it has not been plugged in for a couple of months. When ever I click on the drive in window7 (64-bit) the drive and files are always there with no delays. I have never had to wait of it to spin up. Some other data that is shown; I do not understand what "High Word", "Mid Word", and "Low Word" are; Display data field High Word = 0, Mid Word = 25, Low Word = 18043. The drive is a Toshiba DT01ACA300 and when I run the hard drive tests (both short and long), the tests fine nothing wrong with the drive. Sentinel showed a health reading of 0% when this happened but after running some more test, and powering the drive down a couple of times, the health has came up to 40% now. Other then Hard Drive Sentinel telling me the drive has problems, I can not find or sense that there is anything wrong with the hard drive.

I am questioning the hard drive controller because of other messages that Hard Drive Sentinel has shown for any drive that is hooked to this controller. The message is "problems between communication of disk and host" has been show on any drive I have hooked to that controller. The controller is a Jmicron JMB262 with driver 1.17.65.11. Hard Drive Sentinel has not shown this message with any hard drives that have been hooked up to the AMD 870 chipset on the motherboard. The motherboard has the Jmicron chip on-board and is not a card. When I first seen the above message, I replaced the SATA cable with a new 10" long cable and I have not seen an increase in that message since then.

The drive is still in warranty with only 63 hours of run time but is 2.5 years old and it has passed every test I have tried. What do you thing is the problem or what should I try? I do not want to trust this drive so it is just sitting or being tested at this time. Would a different SATA card with a newer chip set on it be with a try or is it the hard drive? How would I clear the "spin retry count" or offset it? I have tried different offset numbers in Sentinel but none have worked to change this huge value.

Thanks for any info or insight you can provide.
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Re: Problem with drive or controller?

Postby hdsentinel » 2016.06.06. 16:55

Generally "Spin Retry Count" attribute shows when the hard disk need to repeat the spin up procedure, when the drive could not spin up for the very first time.

In some cases, this is related to power source (power supply) which may not able to provide enough power for proper spin up, especially when multiple hard disk drives used and/or if the power supply is weaker, has high load (for example due to power hungry VGA card or other devices).

Hard Disk Sentinel detects and shows such condition, indicating that there is a problem with the spin up.

The problem is exactly as you wrote: when the drive CAN spin up and work, there are absolutely no delays, no damaged/corrupted files, all tests pass without errors, the drive can be used and seems perfect. However, there is high chance that the hard disk may not be able to spin up completely, causing instant and complete data loss.

Generally the http://www.hdsentinel.com/hard_disk_case_spin_retry.php page designed exactly to describe such situation.

The value you saw is really interesting. Generally spin up errors are rare, so small amount of such problems are acceptable. But the value you wrote is very high, the hard disk could have never done so many spin up cycles at all.

Sometimes the attributes do not work as expected and the high number can be misleading as the hard disk may store different kind of information on the High Word, Mid Word, Low Word parts (which together form a 6 byte number, which displayed as the high value). Exactly for this purpose, Hard Disk Sentinel allows checking these partial fields one-by-one, not only their actual values but how these changed with time, as this may help to identify what happened, for example connect the possible new problems for an event like hardware change, power failure, power supply issues, etc.

Yes, as you feel, sometimes the disk controller (where the hard disk connected) can cause troubles, for example in some very rare situations, they may provide inaccurate value when the status information detected.
Also it is possible that one controller is more sensitive to problems, for example data communication errors than others - even if both controllers are integrated to the motherboard.
Communication errors are frequently caused by generic overheat, overclock too ( see http://www.hdsentinel.com/hard_disk_case_communication_error.php for more details about such issue).

I recommend to please use Report menu -> Send test report to developer option. Then it is possible to check the actual counters, verify the reported numbers for the "Spin retry count" attribute and I can provide step-by-step instructions about how to clear the error counter, restore the hard disk health - so then you'll be notified about possible new issues (if there will be).
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Re: Problem with drive or controller?

Postby jolt77 » 2016.06.08. 20:54

I have sent the report to you, as you said to do, but have not see any reply. Can that counter be reset or off set?
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Re: Problem with drive or controller?

Postby hdsentinel » 2016.06.09. 10:16

Thanks for your message and the report, just started to send answer ;)

Yes, from the report, I see you already configured offset value of -18026 for the 10 Spin Retry Count attribute on the S.M.A.R.T. page in Hard Disk Sentinel.
However, the detected amount of spin up problems is higher than this value (18043 according the text description).

So it seems even if the offset used, the attribute constantly counts new such/similar problems.

Personally I suspect the issue may be really caused by a minor incompatibility: the combination of this controller and the hard disk itself.
The controller may has some special power management functions which result that the drive constantly records new problems (even if there should be no issues).

If possible, just for a test, I'd try to connect the drive to a completely different controller or try in an USB enclosure/docking station, just to verify the situation: check if the error counter changes or not there. This would confirm that previously the controller caused the increase.

If you prefer to completely ignore this warning and want to disable checking / interpreting this attribute, please locate this 10 Spin Retry Count attribute on the S.M.A.R.T. page in Hard Disk Sentinel and next to the Offset column, un-check the checkbox under the "Enable" column.
This way Hard Disk Sentinel will not use this attribute in health calculation and determining the text description too - so these would only show possible other issues (if there will be).
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