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secure disk erase failed

353 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: Dec 18, 2012 10:20 PM by Christopher Murphy RSS
hotwheels 22 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Dec 15, 2012 9:14 AM

i have finally diagnosed a mac pro boot problem as being caused by my 3 TB external G-Drive. problem happens when it is one or plugged in and doesn't happen when it is not. it also doesn't happen with other external devices.

 

g drive tech and an expert user on the forum have been helping me with this and in an attempt to resolve it i get this error when trying to zero out format the disk.

 

should i just try it again? step down to a 'normal' reformat instead of zerioing out? or does this indicate there may be something wrong with the drive.

 

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 11.03.11 AM.pngScreen Shot 2012-12-15 at 11.02.56 AM.png

Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.4), with 64 bit Win7 in Parallel
  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 8 Level 8 (48,110 points)
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    Dec 15, 2012 9:43 AM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    "normal" erase does not erase any more that the first 1000 blocks or the Directory area. The rest is just added to the free pool, NOT re-written, and this does not spare out Bad Blocks.

     

    Initialization fails when more that 10 spare blocks are substituted. You should run it again.

     

    Is this drive still under warranty? If it Fails write Zeroes again, you should return it under warranty.

    Mac Pro (Early 2009), Mac OS X (10.6.8), & Server, PPC, & AppleTalk Printers
  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 8 Level 8 (48,110 points)
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    Dec 15, 2012 12:45 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    On many modern drives, the format information on the drive is essentially permanent, and the concept of re-formatting is meaningless.

     

    The important part of security erase is that the data blocks are re-written with a known-good pattern.

     

    It probably made more than 10 spares substitutions and stopped without rewriting all blocks.

     

    Modern SATA drives keep a list of blocks that are candidates for sparing. But the actual sparing cannot be done until new data are provided for re-writing. It does not matter what data are provided to re-write the blocks. Backup data works as well as Zeroes.

    Mac Pro (Early 2009), Mac OS X (10.6.8), & Server, PPC, & AppleTalk Printers
  • Christopher Murphy Level 2 Level 2 (470 points)
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    Dec 17, 2012 1:07 AM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    What does the Disk Utility log report? What does Console's system.log report?

  • Christopher Murphy Level 2 Level 2 (470 points)
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    Dec 18, 2012 7:49 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    I can't think of a way to tell if a disk has been zero'd if you've already written data to it since the zeroing. So far all of the Firewire bridge chipsets I've used (which is not by any means conclusive) fail to pass through the full ATA command set. So running SMART utilities doesn't work.

     

    If you go to Disk Utility, click on the drive (make and model, not the named volume), click on the Info button, what do you see for SMART Status and everything below that? Looks like this:

     

    S.M.A.R.T. Status :Verified

    Reallocated Sector Count :000000000000

    Power-On Hours :00000000025A

    Power Cycles :0000000000D3

    Host Reported UWC :000000000000

    Air Flow Temperature : 00000000001C

    ECC on the Fly Count :000000000000

    UltraDMA CRC Errors :000000000000
  • Grant Bennet-Alder Level 8 Level 8 (48,110 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 18, 2012 8:36 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    If your original complaint (that the drive interferes with booting when present) has been resolved, you may just want to continue to use it as a backup and be happy.

     

    If you want a definitive answer, That will take some work. I agree with Christopher Murphy that the SMART Status is generally not available for external Drives. So to see if the SMART Status is "Verified", you would have to pull the drive out of the external enclosure and Install it on a sled in the Mac Pro and read it there.

     

    That may be more trouble than its worth if the original problem is resolved.

     

    His idea of reading the log from the time you were erasing is a good one. Disk Utility has a log you can read while inside Disk Utility, and that may be simpler than digging through System Logs.

    Mac Pro (Early 2009), Mac OS X (10.6.8), & Server, PPC, & AppleTalk Printers
  • Christopher Murphy Level 2 Level 2 (470 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 18, 2012 10:20 PM (in response to hotwheels 22)

    Yeah this is one of those things that really frustrates me because there's no good reason why bridge chipsets for Firewire to SATA, and USB to SATA, can't properly handle SMART passthrough. It's just that most don't. And people don't know this or have any reason to know it, until they need it. If you contact G-Tech again you might ask them if the chipset they're using does support SMART, and if so what smartclt switch is needed to get it to work. More info here.

     

    As for getting smartctl, this is a command line program, part of the smartmontools package. It is available for building through MacPorts. So you need XCode installed, and MacPorts and be somewhat comfortable with the command line to compile process (macports does most of the work). Another way around this is to boot something like Gparted Live, or Fedora 17 LiveCD, which will have smartmontools already included and compiled. So while it's still command line, at least you don't have to mess around with compiling. LiveCD's are live, modifiable environments running Linux, you don't have to install anything to your drives at all.

     

    Basically the commands you use for smartctl, if they work, will extract SMART attributes from the drives, and also can perform extended tests. Off hand I'm not thinking of a good reason why zeroing a Firewire drive shouldn't work (not a good idea to do this for SSDs, but it's actually a good thing to do periodically to consumer SATA drives).

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