Mac Hard drive failure - Why bother fixing it these days, also why consider an SSD?

BW1965

Registered
I started getting a lot of spinning beach balls loading stuff on my MacBook running Mountain Lion. I assumed it was a memory problem. Updated the base memory from 2G to 4G and it seemed improved, but the beach balls kept appearing. Finally I got some message about I/O errors and couldn't write to the drive consistently.

I figured it needed testing so I got a copy of Scannerz and tested it. Scannerz found bad sectors throughout the 40G to 50G range. I put Scannerz into probing mode and in general it was reporting between 5% to 10% damage for each 1GB scan section. According to their manual, that's a lot and I should consider replacing the drive.

I went ahead and read the Scannerz manual section on how to attempt repairing drive, and all I could think to myself was "Why bother?" A hard drive with 2-3 times the capacity on mine now costs $50-$60 and it has better performance. The disk has already had problems once. Why would anyone even bother consider fixing a drive? I'll bet you that in a year, you can get a 500G drive for $35.

Also, what's the big deal about SSDs? I know they're faster and they load programs quickly, but I swear I see as many problems with them on some of the sites I've looked at as I do with hard drives. If this was an old technology and there were a lot of them on the market like there are for HDs, that would be normal, but what percentage of people are using SSDs? 10% maybe? And yet I'm reading as many posts on SSD problems as I do with HDs. Also, when SSDs go, they seem to like to go completely, as in no data left at all.

The way I use my computer is as follows:

1. I boot it up.
2. I start the apps I need
3. When I want to stop, I close the lid
4. When I open the lid, there they are, already loaded in RAM (FASTER than an SSD)

I went to a well known vendors site and derived the cost per gigabyte for HDs vs. SSDs. The cost of an SSD is roughly 9-10 times that of an HD. An HD is a proven technology, IMHO, whereas I'm not convinced the same is true for SSDs. Search the web for things like "SSD problems" and you'll see a fair number of them. When most HDs fail, like mine did, I can still recover some of the data (if I had to, but I'm a good boy and I do backups!) but I can't say the same for SSDs that simply drop dead and lose everything. This is a "not ready for prime time" technology, as far as I'm concerned. Even if you buy a lower cost SSD with say 60GB to 80GB of storage and you're a laptop user, then all you need to do is either buy or build your own HD based external backup or extension drive and lug that around with you. All of this to save you a second or two loading an app?

This is my first post here. I hope you find it entertaining!

CHEERS!
 

Doctor X

Registered
We give your post a . . . 37! [Stop that!--Ed.]

Yes . . . sorry . . . welcome to the forums! Two drink minimum. . . .

I do not have a "dog" in the fight. A few Gurus HERE tried to convince me on SSD when I upgraded to this Mac--after buying a replacement HD for an older Macbook. It seems the "need for speed" is always outpaced by programs. So the sudden upgrade in processor speed was nice . . . but it still takes a while for some programs to load. A Guru informed me that one of the advantages of SSD is they load almost immediately.


But as you noted the difference in $ for "volume" is staggering. It was REALLY staggering about 2 years ago. I "like" a half-full internal HD. Everything moves around nicely. Getting a 500 GB SSD at that point . . . well, there you go. Also, I, too, read the complaints of them dying within 6 months!


I, too, back up--I back up on three external drives because I am paranoid. It also means I get to get around frell-ups I create--go back to the clone! My computer came with Lion
. "You can't go to Snow Leopard on that machine!!11!" the acne infested store person-thing squealed as I buried the stapler into his tongue.

Yes, you can.

I tried Mountain Lion--
--and went back.

So what I recommend to most is a good sized internal HD for their laptop AND extra-good sized external HD with a cloning program. Less expensive than a SSD.

Now, I hope, a Guru with a SSD will come on and convince us otherwise because I KNOW my life will be better when I eventually replace this internal HD with a SSD or hybrid
!

--J.D.
 

Louie55

Registered
Replacing a drive in a MacBook is a piece of cake, no more difficult that updating/replacing the RAM. People with systems more difficult to service may very well, and very sensibly, attempt to repair the drive using some of the Scannerz tactics. There's nothing special about them. Zeroing a drive has long been known to re-map bad sectors to spares, if they're available. On more complicated systems, if a user tries to repair it himself and he/she has no experience, if they're inexperienced doing this they could break the unit. If they take it to a service center, it will cost a lot more. Then there's the cost of the drive. Not everyone sees $50-$100 as "throw away" or insignificant income. In an age of high unemployment in both the U.S. and Europe, bucks don't come cheaply.

Also, what's the big deal about SSDs? I know they're faster and they load programs quickly, but I swear I see as many problems with them on some of the sites I've looked at as I do with hard drives. If this was an old technology and there were a lot of them on the market like there are for HDs, that would be normal, but what percentage of people are using SSDs? 10% maybe? And yet I'm reading as many posts on SSD problems as I do with HDs. Also, when SSDs go, they seem to like to go completely, as in no data left at all.
That's a very, very good observation, and you're right. I see about as many posts on bad HDs as I do SSDs, but HDs probably outnumber SSD 20:1.

People will switch to SSDs when they're proven reliable. I don't believe they are yet, and like you said, when they go south, typically there's nothing left. Most HD failures are at least partially recoverable.

HDs will be around for a long time, even if they're only relegated to backups.
 

BW1965

Registered
I visited another site today and a user was complaining about the good 'ol spinning beach ball problem, system locking up, etc. etc ... all the typical symptoms of a hard drive failure. Catch? It's an SSD that's only a few months old. The user couldn't figure the problem out. Finally he got a copy of Scannerz and it told him he had bad sectors on the drive. I repeat, it's a few months old.

Now, excuse me for being a wise guy, but aren't bad sectors supposed to be one of those things that SSDs do away with? Aren't they supposed to "magically" detect these problems and correct them? Why is it that the guy uses a product intended for hard drive testing on it and it looks like a hard drive with problems. By the way, this wasn't some cheap, discount SSD, he paid good money for it from a "reputable" distributor.

Solution? Simply wipe the drive using the SSD's reformatting tool (or whatever they call it...perhaps something like "Magical SSD tool that fixes every drive problem on Earth permanently....well ... at least for a few months"), do a complete re-install of the OS, and then a do a complete restore FROM THE HARD DRIVE HE HAS HIS BACKUPS ON to bring the system back to where it was. Now that's what I call a "performance improvement."

I've had hard drives last for years without having a bad sector (or at least one that I knew about.) Here this guy is likely paying $200 bucks for a drive that, for all practical purposes lasts a few months before causing problems. I know SSDs are likely the wave of the future, but as it stands now they are definitely not ready for prime time, as far as I'm concerned.
 
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Louie55

Registered
Scannerz is apparently an excellent tool. I'm not familiar with it myself but I've seen it mentioned on other sites for it's ability to catch problems other tools apparently miss. Which brings me to my next point about SSDs: A third party tool like Scannerz should not be able to detect problems on an SSD because the SSD is supposed to catch them and auto-correct them.

SSDs are totally new and it's becoming almost alarmingly clear, IMHO, that they're being rushed out the door without adequate testing. I've seen numerous posts on sites where the contents of an SSD were "there one day and gone the next."

SSDs are the wave of the future, I think, but we were also told that about optical drives years ago, and yet they're essentially unreliable lemons.
 

Doctor X

Registered
I "bump" this to note that I noticed some "issues" on SMART testing of my Internal HD. It was a 750 GB 5400 RPM type. Long story short, I had a 500 GB 7200 RPM from the Macbook I replaced. "Why not put it in there! It will be FASTER."

Well, maybe, if I really, really, really believed it.

I returned to the concept of SSD. They have dropped in price, but based on reviews, I decided to try a Hybrid SSD--you can get 1TB! 5400 hybrid for ~$120.

I have to admit, the reviews are correct. Booting and loading frequently used programs--even the sllllllllooooooooowwwwww to load Adobe and M$--load fast.

So, I have to say, if you like speed, SSD is the way to go. If you want to save money and maintain space but also have excellent speed, consider a hybrid.

--J.D.
 
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