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I have a PowerEdge 1850 running two SCSI Ultra 320 drives (10k 73gb). I am looking for recommendations on boot disks / methods to run a boot time surface scan. I would like to do this at boot time because I have lots of drives to test and don't want to install an OS on all of them.

I am also looking for a fairly generic solution that is not tied to a particular drive brand.

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4 Answers 4

If you don't want to spend any money, download a Linux livecd (my favorite http://www.sysresccd.org/), and run badblocks.

  • Non destructive read and write test, badblocks -c 2048 -sn /dev/sdi
    • this will re-write every block.
  • Destructive read and write test badblocks -c 2048 -sw /dev/sde
  • Read only test badblocks -c 2048 -s /dev/sde

The -c option tells it to operate on more then 1 block at a time, which allows it to run faster. If you have lots of memory then larger values will help. On my 1GB system I typically use -c 10240.

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Agreed 'badblocks -s -w $THE_DISK' is a great way to test storage before deploying it. –  sciurus Aug 31 '11 at 19:18
    
badblocks is a good tool for doing a quick & dirty scan of the disk, but if it identifies something bad, it doesn't try & recover the underlying data. It just marks the block as bad & moves on. (which may be all you want) –  TheCompWiz Aug 31 '11 at 19:20
    
If you wanted to get the underlying data, then you would fire up dd_rescue or other recovery tools, also available on the most linux livecds. –  Zoredache Aug 31 '11 at 21:08
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There's always a chance for issues with raid-controllers... in that without an OS and drivers, there is no way to access the disks. Sometimes, (on good controllers anyway) the raid-controller will operate in some sort of simple-mode until the drivers are loaded, and then you will be able to use the full feature-set of the raid controller. If this is the case, you can use almost any bootable disk tools to do almost anything to the disks.

I highly recommend looking at GRC's spinRite as it's probably the best tool for doing surface scans & recovery. It's completely OS agnostic, so it doesn't matter if you're using windows or linux or whatever flavor of OS/file-system/whatever on that disk. They have ISO bootable images as well as thumb-drive based images you can use to boot directly into the tool without an existing OS on the machine as well.

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I wouldn't recommend SpinRite. groups.google.com/group/comp.dcom.xdsl/msg/… –  sciurus Aug 31 '11 at 19:13
    
@sciurus You really shouldn't read the rantings of one uninformed user that really doesn't understand what the tool does. It's not magic... there's actual practical science behind how it works. –  TheCompWiz Aug 31 '11 at 19:18
    
There are many sources online that document why Steve Gibson lacks credibility. allthatiswrong.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/steve-gibson-is-a-fraud is a good starting place. –  sciurus Aug 31 '11 at 19:35
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@sciurus Not really a good starting place for anything other than an argument leading to nowhere. Your comments are off-topic, and unrelated. Your only comment about SpinRite is more than 10 years old, and was made by a single person who has already demonstrated that he has a personal vendetta against Steve Gibson. –  TheCompWiz Aug 31 '11 at 19:43
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In that first link, it states that SpinRite is 10% legitimate, and I believe that for the purposes of what the OP wants to do (scan for bad sectors) is something that it can do credibly, even 10 years ago. –  Mark Henderson Aug 31 '11 at 20:31
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Try SpinRite from http://www.grc.com

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lol... beat you to it :D –  TheCompWiz Aug 31 '11 at 19:01
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Have you tried using the PowerEdge diagnostics from Dell? These are usually accessible from the POST screen, and can also be downloaded as a CD image from Dell's support site (double-check the version and its compatibility with your server).

Otherwise SpinRite is a great generic tool as others have already suggested.

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