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Certifying Disks

(@steigw)
Active Member Customer

Hello,

I've two external USB 3.0 seagate disks that I'd like to set up as a mirrored raid. I new to this, but believe the first step is to certify the disks. I initially set them up to certify with 3 passes, but after 14 hours and still not completing the first pass, I'm wondering if I should even be doing this step. No errors are being reported so far. The time remaining is continuously being reported around 30 minutes (it jumps around quite a bit).

Should I just let it run? Skip this step? Is there a problem?

Thanks!

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Topic starter Posted : 13/01/2016 6:05 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

Time remaining is more likely 30 hours. It can take days to certify disks, and USB is slower than Thunderbolt.

It is valuable to certify disks (see our testimonial page for a couple examples of users who did not think it was important, but decided to go ahead, only to find they had defective disks)

At the end of the process you have disks that are known to be able to read/write reliably.

No it is not "required", but recommended. Especially with USB, where you do not get feedback on the drives on whether they are starting to fail or not (No SMART reporting)

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Posted : 13/01/2016 6:11 pm
(@steigw)
Active Member Customer

Time remaining is more likely 30 hours. It can take days to certify disks, and USB is slower than Thunderbolt.

It is valuable to certify disks (see our testimonial page for a couple examples of users who did not think it was important, but decided to go ahead, only to find they had defective disks)

At the end of the process you have disks that are known to be able to read/write reliably.

No it is not "required", but recommended. Especially with USB, where you do not get feedback on the drives on whether they are starting to fail or not (No SMART reporting)

Is a single pass good enough for certifying? A three pass indicated it would take over 135 hours. And if I should end up needing 3 or more, could I let this single pass finish and then just do 2 more (for a total of 3)?

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Topic starter Posted : 13/01/2016 7:47 pm
(@naerct)
Active Member Customer

Time remaining is more likely 30 hours. It can take days to certify disks, and USB is slower than Thunderbolt.

It is valuable to certify disks (see our testimonial page for a couple examples of users who did not think it was important, but decided to go ahead, only to find they had defective disks)

At the end of the process you have disks that are known to be able to read/write reliably.

No it is not "required", but recommended. Especially with USB, where you do not get feedback on the drives on whether they are starting to fail or not (No SMART reporting)

When the OP mentioned it was stuck on 30 minutes, I immediately had the same response as you did and chuckled a bit, since I had just learned my lesson, eventually Certifying all my disks, 5 SSDs, and 14 HDs from 120GB TO 4 TB. I had a 20% increase in my electric bill last month. Actually 2 drives had to be redone as they stopped on the last phase of the Certify. I have also Verified all the drives since then.
The OP has a great point, but it may be mute with the huge HDs today. I tell my friends that I am just learning to count to 4 trillion. I would suggest that with multiple SATA drives of up to 4TB, one should think about a week to Certify. I find all the support literature minimizes the amount of time it actually takes to perform these procedures with the larger sizes we have today. One the other hand, SSDs with their greater speed and smaller sizes really Certify quickly. That's if you don't have a power outage and forgot to put the external enclosure on the UPS. Also, the warnings about heat should be considered. When I purchased two drives together and tried to Certify them in a dual port disk dock, after an hour or so, things were so hot in a 60 degree room, I immediately shut them down and put them inside the tower case where they were cooled properly.

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Posted : 14/01/2016 11:49 am
(@angelonyc)
Active Member Customer

I occasionally use a 'drive dock'... I bought a 'muffin fan'.. Like the ones in your computer.. It runs off straight AC.. I place it a few inches from the drive if, I'm going to use if for an extended drive, and drive stays cool.. I've had drives stop from overheating when not having a fan on them..

When or when will SSD's get cheap enough to buy multi TBs..?

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Posted : 17/01/2016 10:06 pm
(@uselessdetails)
New Member Customer

When or when will SSD's get cheap enough to buy multi TBs..?

I just bought 2 1TB drives for under $500. I've seen quotes for significantly less even.

So I'd say, "now".

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Posted : 11/07/2016 7:26 pm
(@timhyphenh)
New Member Customer

No it is not "required", but recommended. Especially with USB, where you do not get feedback on the drives on whether they are starting to fail or not (No SMART reporting)

I'm just at the certifying stage, with Softraid reporting 170 and 108 hrs left to do 2 passes on 2x 5TB drives.
This does seem excessive and I can't really tie up my machine for a week certifying kit.

So to read that my USB drives will not be able to report possible failures I am unsure what to do next.

Thanks

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Posted : 20/09/2016 9:41 am
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

A certify is important because new disks are untested.

Note: if you are using a hub of any kind, USB performance drops 30% to 50% or more!

You can cancel the certify if you want, but we recommend it.

USB does not pass SMART information, so SoftRAID cannot see when the disks are reallocating sectors (starting to fail), but SoftRAID will report any disk errors. so when the disk is actually failing, you will get notices from SoftRAID. There will be no {predictive failure" messages however.

To be blunt, USB is not a serious technology to use for RAID volumes. You are using Mirrors, or RAID for mission critical work. It's worth the investment to get Thunderbolt enclosures, so you have a better handle on when the disks start to go down. Data can be far more valuable than disks or enclosures.

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Posted : 20/09/2016 10:34 am
(@altostratus)
New Member Customer

I've just got 3 x 6 Tb IronWolf drives (7200 rpm) inside a Thunderbay 4. I started a simultaneous certification process on all 3. Time left was shown as 28 hours, but 10 hours later it has climbed to 44 hours (still at pass 1 of 2).

Is it normal for "time left" to climb like this? Is it related to the 3 certification processes running simultaneously? I launched all 3 at the same time because I didn't think it would make a difference (Thunderbolt bandwidth is more than enough and SoftRAID's CPU use is only around 5%).

Thanks for your help.

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Posted : 20/11/2017 2:29 pm
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

Yes it is normal, as disks get much slower near the end, then are much faster at the beginning. We do not try to average this out, we just predict time remaining on the current run rate, which is a close enough estimate.

You can do nearly 8 drives at once before you start hitting Thunderbolt performance limits.

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Posted : 20/11/2017 3:49 pm
(@altostratus)
New Member Customer

We do not try to average this out, we just predict time remaining on the current run rate, which is a close enough estimate.

I understand, but with my 6 Tb drives the estimates are really wild. Like I wrote, it started with 28 hours, ten hours later it was at 44, and an hour after writing my post it went down to 21... Now, twelve hours later, it seems to have stabilized around 12 so it seems to get more consistent as it progresses. The 44 max value was really surprising, especially since it went down to half to that so quickly later. BTW, I've just checked, it has climbed back to 13... IMHO The "current offset" value is not very helpful to the average user (a figure in the trillions). Since the size of the drive is known, wouldn't it be possible to display a calculated percentage of the drive which has been tested?

Just a though. It's no big deal, really. I'll just wait for it to finish!

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Posted : 21/11/2017 2:00 am
(@softraid-support)
Member Admin

You are seeing first-hand how much performance can vary among drives.

The reason it went up to 44, then dropped in half is you were near the end of the disk, which is more than 50% slower than the beginning.

The offset value is in MB, so if you see a 4,xxx,xxx,xxx, you know you are approximately 4TB into the disk at that point.

While doing a better time estimate would mean testing actual disks for their times, not realistic, it is possible to do a % completed, but there is nowhere to put that number without cluttering the interface. Perhaps with SoftRAID 6.x we can investigate this, as the GUI will have a major overhaul.

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Posted : 21/11/2017 2:13 pm
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