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I have an old hard drive. I tried installing two things, PyTorch and Nvidia CUDA (large archive files) and both times the installation failed. When I checked the errors, both times it said the checksum of the downloaded files did not match the desired checksums.

How can I make sure it's a hard drive failure? Or, is there possibility it's something else?

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While a failing HDD can not be entirely ruled out, it seems rather odd that two just-downloaded files were corrupted in the few minutes needed to write/read them. To completely excluded your HDD, run smartctl --all </dev/yourdisk> both before and after downloading/installing application, and check if the relative SMART values (ie: Offline_Uncorrectable, Current_Pending_Sector, UDMA_CRC_Error_Count, etc) increase between runs.

That said, it is way more probable that files were corrupted during download, maybe from your internet provider / local router / whatever. Finally, I would check your RAM is error-free running memtest86 for at least 2 hours.

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  • Unlikely to be internet. HDD, as far as I can tell, none of those value changed before after iinstall attempt. I know for a fact that the RAM has errors. So, given the scenario, you think the faulty RAM is highest culprit? – user3180 Jan 29 '19 at 9:10
  • Well, sure: if you know that RAM has errors, you can not trust anything on this computer. – shodanshok Jan 29 '19 at 10:21

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