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Full Version: Is HD dead?
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Dell Inspiron 8600 (laptop)


Not exactly new but not real old. Maybe 4 years max.


I had debian installed for a long time and it was running ok. Eventually it started being a hoe so I installed archlinux and it was ok for a while. Then I started having problems when I tried installing stuff using pacman. I think this is when the drive became non-writable or something. So I installed gentoo for fun. Well, after installation I booted up and it worked fine for a couple reboots. Then it made me do a fsck or whatever its called. Found problems that it couldnt fix I guess. So I reinstalled and all went well until the same thing happened. So I installed kubuntu thinking that gentoo was screwing up my file system. Kubuntu installed fine but after a few reboots the drive is not writable anymore. Same problems as with the other one. I dont hear any bad noises or anything. I havent gotten any hardware errors, just system errors saying the drive is not writable. How do I know if I need a new HD?

You shouldn't have that much trouble with so many linux distros. I imagine if you installed windows you would have similar problems.


You need to obtain the SMART info from the drive (provided the drive supports it, I'm sure it does) The trick is you need to be booted into a distro that has smart installed.


You could use a live CD such as knoppix to isolate the HD out of the equation by running the O/S completely from memory. Then start up a SMART daemon to collect hard drive events for a few hours. Check your logs for anything reported by the daemon, or alternately do a `smartctl -a /dev/hda` provided that your HD is actually /dev/hda and not /dev/sda or something similar.


This will give you a run-down on the general health of your drive. IF you find anything fishy, just google it. Check out:




And related articles about the meanings of the messages reported by SMART.


Another general recommendation: run memtest86 on it for a few hours. This will rule out any low level bus/memory/cpu errors (I doubt this is the problem).

Thanks for the suggestion. I've never heard of SMART so I'll be sure to try it out this weekend. As for memtest, I highly doubt that is the cause because the distro runs fine... it just can't write to the disk :)


Thanks again. I'll reply back with my results.

Interesting little tool... It says this:


SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: FAILED!

Drive failure expected in less than 24 hours. SAVE ALL DATA.



So I guess my drive is just dying on me :( ... well at least it got a solid 800 hours in...


Anyone know how much a laptop ATA disk drive costs? Preferably at least 60gb

nowadays they are cheap enough,


you can replace it with an 80 or 100gb hdd' if you wish


thank yourself that you at least had the time to back it up before it failed




Thought I'd reply with some followup. I bought a new 80gb HD (WD Raptor from newegg) for about $75 which includes s/h. This is just a fun computer so I didn't really lose any data and I dont need a lot of space so all is well. Just put in the HD this weekend and it seems to be running fine (once I get wireless working correctly.. ugh)