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Yes, if it's large, heavy, and only 65 Meg in capacity, you can assume it's ancient. An RLL controller would positively indicate the drive is from antiquity. What about drives that are only 3 or 4 years old? If I know the serial number, make and model is there a public database that indicates a manufacturing date?

Update: As trite as this question might seem to some, the hard drive I was looking at that precipitated this question had no obvious manufacturing date stamped on it. I realize that most do. I think the answers given are very useful to myself and others.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If smartmontools is available, doing a "smartctl --all |grep -i power_on_hours" gives you the number of operating hours for the drive.

Failing that, googling the model number of a drive would help as well. You can get the model by one of the following:

hdparm -I <drive>

under linux and

either

iostat -En

or

cfgadm

under (Open)Solaris.

Of course you should be able to get the model number from the labels on the drive itself. ;-)

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Integrated circuits on the drive's board have a manufacturing date code stamped on them. A common scheme is the four-digit code where the first two digits signify the year and the next two the week within that year. Other schemes are also used. The newest date you will find on the board will be quite near the drive's actual manufacturing date.

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The label on most hard drives show the date of manufacture.

Here are a few examples I found on the web (one old drive, one new) showing that sometimes you have to look carefully:

October of 2002

July 6th, 2008

If you can't find the date on the drive itself try searching Google for the MODEL NUMBER of the hard drive.

If all else fails... give us more details of the drive and I'm sure someone here probably knows the answer. :-)

Good luck!

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Another comment about age is how much use the drive has gotten since manufacture which can be very important too.

If the drive supports SMART disk monitoring, you can look at the number of hours in operation parameter (via Linux smartctl) which may provide a good clue at age in terms of usage.

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A) Date is printed on some drives as a manufacturing date B) Google the model number and you may find a date estimate from sites still selling the drive or the drive manufacturer may have a spec sheet online with dates.

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Many have an actual date stamped on them for warranty purposes. Every major vendor that I can think of has a support page where you can type a serial number in to in order to check warranty status and many of them will show the date of manufacture there as well.

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+1 Serial number + vendor = date (as they need a way to check if a given serial number is within warranty). –  Oskar Duveborn Aug 16 '09 at 11:29

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