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For a few weeks now, smartd has been reporting that it is skipping some of its scheduled self-tests on the weekends:

Apr 24 18:29:32 calvin smartd[4758]: Device: /dev/sda, skip scheduled Offline Immediate Test; 40% remaining of current Self-Test.
Apr 24 18:29:33 calvin smartd[4758]: Device: /dev/sdb, skip scheduled Offline Immediate Test; 50% remaining of current Self-Test.

The drives in this RAID-1 array are set to run an offline test four times a day, a short self-test at 2am every day, and a long self-test on Saturdays at 2am. For some reason, it looks like the long self-test is taking longer, causing the other scheduled tests to be skipped.

First question: is this a sign of likely drive failure?

Then today, smartd reported that a self-test failed. Here is the output of smartctl -a /dev/sdb:

smartctl version 5.38 [i686-pc-linux-gnu] Copyright (C) 2002-8 Bruce Allen
Home page is http://smartmontools.sourceforge.net/

=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Model Family:     Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 family
Device Model:     ST3250823AS
Serial Number:    3ND1GNBC
Firmware Version: 3.03
User Capacity:    250,059,350,016 bytes
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   7
ATA Standard is:  Exact ATA specification draft version not indicated
Local Time is:    Sun Apr 25 13:15:34 2010 EDT
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x82) Offline data collection activity
     was completed without error.
     Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0) The previous self-test routine completed
     without error or no self-test has ever 
     been run.
Total time to complete Offline 
data collection:    ( 430) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities:     (0x5b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
     Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
     Suspend Offline collection upon new
     command.
     Offline surface scan supported.
     Self-test supported.
     No Conveyance Self-test supported.
     Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003) Saves SMART data before entering
     power-saving mode.
     Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01) Error logging supported.
     General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine 
recommended polling time:   (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time:   (  84) minutes.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000f   047   039   006    Pre-fail  Always       -       168450357
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0003   098   098   000    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0032   100   100   020    Old_age   Always       -       33
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   036    Pre-fail  Always       -       9
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000f   087   060   030    Pre-fail  Always       -       654745480
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   055   055   000    Old_age   Always       -       40141
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   097    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   020    Old_age   Always       -       51
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   037   062   000    Old_age   Always       -       37 (0 17 0 0)
195 Hardware_ECC_Recovered  0x001a   047   039   000    Old_age   Always       -       168450357
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0010   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x003e   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
200 Multi_Zone_Error_Rate   0x0000   100   253   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
202 TA_Increase_Count       0x0032   100   253   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     40131         -
# 2  Extended offline    Completed: read failure       30%     40129         379795511
# 3  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     40084         -
# 4  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     40060         -
# 5  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     40036         -
# 6  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     40013         -
# 7  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39990         -
# 8  Extended offline    Completed without error       00%     39977         -
# 9  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39919         -
#10  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39895         -
#11  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39872         -
#12  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39848         -
#13  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39824         -
#14  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39801         -
#15  Extended offline    Completed without error       00%     39789         -
#16  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39754         -
#17  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39732         -
#18  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39707         -
#19  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39683         -
#20  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39660         -
#21  Short offline       Completed without error       00%     39636         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
 SPAN  MIN_LBA  MAX_LBA  CURRENT_TEST_STATUS
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

Given that this drive is about 4.5 years old, I am probably tempting fate by keeping it in service.

SMART doesn't seem to get much respect as a reliable way to predict drive failure. What else can I use to get an early indication of drive failure?

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Some SMART parameters, such as reallocation counts tend to be good indications of future disk failures, while other parameters are less useful. Still SMART is the best way to get low level reliability information about your disk unless you have the debugging tools that the HD producers use.

If you are interested in hard-disk failures on a more aggregated level I suggest you have a look at the survey a team at Google did, where they also discuss the performance of SMART monitoring and other important factors in HD reliability.

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I'm going to read this as "SMART is the best choice we as end-users have today." 250 GB drives are $45, and it didn't seem worth spending too much time on it, so I replaced the drive. –  Steve Madsen Apr 28 '10 at 0:50
    
Good decisions, both of them ;) –  pehrs Apr 28 '10 at 7:56
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