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red2

@fastwebnet.it

Advice on Buying Used Hard Drive

What advice do you have regarding buying a used hard drive?

Simply don't, because of the potential problems (virus and surface corruption)?

Or will nuking it with Dban be enough to eradicate any virus and a chkdsk reveal if there are any drive errors?


Rojo

join:2009-04-14
New York, NY
kudos:1

Used HDDs are never a good idea IMHO. You don't know what they've been through. Bad sectors can slip by routine error checks.



sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA
reply to red2

The issue is not security but physical wear.

DBAN is more something you do to a drive you're selling than one you're buying, it would be overkill if your concern was inheriting a virus, purging the partition table would be good enough on that concern.

The issue is that retail drives are generally designed with a 5 year service life and you don't know what kind of adverse conditions (temperature, shock, etc) it was subjected to by the previous owner. If you can afford a brand new drive, that'd be better, they're cheap enough.

If you have to buy used, consider the date of manufacture, and what sort of duty it was loaded to, and you better be getting a bargain price.

A case where cheap used drives can make sense is in RAID, where you don't face nearly as much catasrophe if an individual member craps out, and just want to replace cheaply.

Again, though, why would you, when new, unused drives with factory warranties are so cheap.
--
Scott Brown Consulting



Phoenix22
Death From Above
Premium
join:2001-12-11
SOG C&C Nrth
Reviews:
·Comcast Formerl..
reply to red2

said by red2 :

What advice do you have regarding buying a used hard drive?

Simply don't, because of the potential problems (virus and surface corruption)?

Or will nuking it with Dban be enough to eradicate any virus and a chkdsk reveal if there are any drive errors?

i'd do a pro/con list.........
i'm pretty sure a new drive will win out.........imho
i'd never purchase a used drive........
--
101ST ABN Div. (AirAssault) "Rendezvous With Destiny!" "Night Stalkers/Phoenix Flight" For Buddy...who lived it! Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses! H.A.L.O!, 5th Grp., MACV SOG, 160TH AVN SOG, Death From Above, VFW, AmLegion


MacGyver
Don't Waste Your Energy
Premium,ExMod 2003-05
join:2001-10-14
Canada
kudos:2
reply to red2

Any used drive I've come across has been nothing but trouble. I don't think anyone can justify the worth of their data being less than the cost of a new drive.



red2

@fastwebnet.it

Thanks for that advice. I had no idea. I assumed the issue was the security risk, not the risk of reliability.



NOYB
St. John 3.16
Premium
join:2005-12-15
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:1
reply to red2

Another aspect of assuming ownership of a previously used storage device is liability of content left behind by the previous owner. Always make sure the drive is wiped totally clean with a good security tool. You don't want to get caught with any illegal content that may have been left behind. Depending on how and where the device was used the previous owner may not even be aware of such content.

--
Be a Good Netizen - Read, Know & Complain About Overly Restrictive Tyrannical ISP ToS & AUP »comcast.net/terms/ »verizon.net/policies/
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dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to red2

They're mechanical so they wear out.
There is fierce price competition between vendors.
Put those two together....

But seriously, unless you have special circumtances, like very little spare money or the need to get an exact replacement of something no longer made, then don't buy used.

Getting given a used drive for free may be a different matter, though you're still taking on the same reliability risks.



Anav
Sarcastic Llama? Naw, Just Acerbic
Premium
join:2001-07-16
Dartmouth, NS
kudos:5

1 recommendation

reply to red2

Avoid unless desperate.



Cartel
Premium
join:2006-09-13
Chilliwack, BC
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
·Shaw
·TELUS

4 edits

Click for full size
If its low hours your ok.
check it first with this: »crystalmark.info/download/index-e.html go for the Portable Edition (zip)

If it has bad sectors, avoid.
If it has under 20-30K hours your ok.
You want zero RAW errors like the red outlined areas in the picture.
If its a seagate drive, you will have Seek Error Rate, Raw Read Error Rate, and Hardware ECC Recovered errors that are normal errors so try to keep that in mind.
The important ones are reallocated and the hours, if its over 100K hours, I'd lowball.

Oh and the temperature, over 50c is bad that means the bearings are shot. 3-8c over ambient is ok.


Cartel
Premium
join:2006-09-13
Chilliwack, BC
kudos:2
reply to red2

said by red2 :

Thanks for that advice. I had no idea. I assumed the issue was the security risk, not the risk of reliability.

DBAN it.


sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA

DBAN has a zero fill mode that could be a quicker alternative to the multiple pass wipe. It all depends how paranoid you are. Someone mentioned upthread there could be kiddie porn on the drive and you could be held responsible in a forensic situation. Is the confluence of all the circumstances that could bring that to pass very likely? No, not really. Is it technically a security concern that a multiple pass wipe with random data would mitigate? Sure, why not. If you're just concerned about malware surviving, though, even just quick formatting the disk, as I mentioned earlier, is sufficient to counter that.
--
Scott Brown Consulting


dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8

Multiple-pass wipe is snake oil. One will do exactly as well as multiple.



sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA

Agreed, your adversary is a space alien magician if they can read residual, second order remnants of bits off a zeroed platter.



NOYB
St. John 3.16
Premium
join:2005-12-15
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:1


Think you'd be surprised what can be done. Though it would probably have to be something on the order of national security to warrant the cost and effort.



sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA

Well, when I DBAN something, I run the default DoD Short (3-pass) mode. You, dave?



Dustyn
Premium
join:2003-02-26
Ontario, CAN
kudos:11
reply to dave

A zero-fill should be sufficient shouldn't it? I do not see the point passing over the drive with different methods. The amount of time it takes with the other methods is crazy.



red2

@fastwebnet.it
reply to sbconslt

I'm buying a backup notebook for my wife. My plan was to replace the hard drive with one of mine (so I know it's secure and reliable). And I was trying to judge whether I could use the drive I remove from the notebook and use it for her backups. So I planned on removing it, taking Dban to it (I had plannned on a 3 pass wipe) and then scanning it see how reliable it is.

I've typically used Hitachi Drive Fitness Test to test drive reliability but that won't work on external drives. I've been doing some testing of chkdsk but can't get it to save a log of what it finds on an externally mounted drive (usb). I tried to use the chkntfs command.

Perhaps a tool like the one Sindows 7 posted, CrystalDiskInfo, would work. Otherwsie, I've discovered HDDScan but don't know how comprehensive it is. Does anyone have any other suggestions for checking the disc surface of external drives?



sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA

MHDD: »hddguru.com/software/2005.10.02-MHDD/


dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8
Reviews:
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1 recommendation

reply to sbconslt

said by sbconslt:

Well, when I DBAN something, I run the default DoD Short (3-pass) mode. You, dave?

Usually, the default, since I'm too lazy to navigate menus and I'm leaving the disk to stew overnight so I don't care whether it's 1 hour or 6.

But for actual erasing under conscious control, likely one pass, random or zero, don't much care which.

dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to red2

Oh, why not: if you have paid for the drive, might as well use it.

quote:
but that won't work on external drives
Rather than putting it in an external enclosure for the testing, can't you wire it up to an internal connector, say in some desktop PC for ease of access, and have it hanging out the case? I do that all the time for testing/fixing things.

quote:
I've been doing some testing of chkdsk but can't get it to save a log of what it finds on an externally mounted drive (usb).
Open a command prompt, run chkdsk, then cut'n'paste the output into an open notepad window.

quote:
I tried to use the chkntfs command.
You know chkntfs doesn't do any checking? It determines what checking is done by autochk (at boot).


ashrc4
Premium
join:2009-02-06
australia
reply to red2

said by red2 :

I'm buying a backup notebook for my wife. My plan was to replace the hard drive with one of mine (so I know it's secure and reliable). And I was trying to judge whether I could use the drive I remove from the notebook and use it for her backups.

Step 2 would be considering the power supply is functioning properly.
The new laptop i presume would be new, not secondhand.
Failing power supplies can register some of the errors that might have been saved from the previous owner.

I would also suggest "Speed Fan".
It has a smart data breakdown "health bar" and a semi cloud correlation online look-up function for further analysis that is relatively simple to understand.
It will also give you some indication of how the power supplies are travelling.


red2

@fastwebnet.it

Thanks again.

sbconslt, the HDDGuru FAQ says it can support USB if you use a driver to emulate that the drive is SCSI. It also talks about a boot floppy, but I'm not sure what procedure needs to be followed.

"Can MHDD work with USB drives?
A: Theoretically yes. You have to find a driver which turns your USB device into SCSI (under DOS). Then MHDD can work with your device in SCSI mode. The driver is located here: »hddguru.com/content/en/software/ ... OS-Driver/
There is also a very good boot floppy disk available here:
»hddguru.com/content/en/software/ ... Boot-Disk/"

dave, when I run chkdsk it often flashes before I'd have time to save it. There is also NO output file saved when it's run on an external drive as there is on the primary drive. So one trick I read aobut was to use chkntfs to force it do the scan of the external scan on reboot in which case it does save an output file. But no matter what switches i tried, I could not get this to work.

I'm only working off of notebooks so my connection options and access is somewhat limited.

The notebook I'm buying is used hence the reason for wanting to DBan and also test the drive surface to ensure it is reliable for backups.


dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

said by red2 :

dave, when I run chkdsk it often flashes before I'd have time to save it.

That's why I suggest running it from a command prompt. The output goes to the same console window that the command prompt is running in, which isn't going away.

(The issue here isn't anything chkdsk does; it's the lifetime of a console window).


red2

@fastwebnet.it

Thanks, dave. Great suggestion. Didn't know that was possible.



sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA

I have only run MHDD on directly-controller-connected SATA drives, not over USB, so no guidance I'm afraid. Like dave said, remove the drive from the enclosure and connect it direct.
--
Scott Brown Consulting



red2

@fastwebnet.it

thanks, sbconslt, but can't do that as I'm working via notebooks and there is no way that I can think of to add another drive except externally. So usb is probably my best bet



Cheese
Premium
join:2003-10-26
Naples, FL
kudos:1
reply to Cartel

Hell yea, thanks for the link, appears both of my WD 74g Raptors have some sector issues

Maybe I'll buy a new SSD for Steam when my taxes come in