Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Seagate IronWolf Drive Failed

For the new FreeNAS storage box I built earlier this year, I went with Seagate IronWolf NAS drives. One of those drives has just failed. Sadly. I had high expectations of the IronWolf drives, so such an early death came most unexpected, and I am a little disappointed by the failure.

Perhaps I might be just unlucky. I understand about “infant mortality” that happens with hard disk drives. This failed drive, however, has already been in continuous operation for about 6 months, so it doesn’t count as an unfortunate case of infant mortality. If a hard disk drive can survive an initial 2 weeks of continuous operation, I’d expect them to last for a very long time.

In this instance, there were no SMART pre-warnings of impending failures, but FreeNAS did report a string of unrecoverable read errors. After a few days of read errors, FreeNAS offline’d the disk and the pool begun to operate in degraded mode. Fortunately there were sufficient replicas so there was no instant catastrophe. That’s the whole purpose of having redundant disks. Still, it was a problem that I needed to deal with in a timely manner. With Raidz1 configured, I could afford to lose one disk only.

Unfortunately I was not able to do that right-away, and hence I was a little concerned about remedying the situation.

In situations like this, I wished I had a hot-spare disk already plugged in, or perhaps had chosen to go with ZFS Raidz2 (i.e. RAID6) to begin with. I did have my reasons for not provisioning too much redundancy in one box. This single box will still ultimately be a single point of failure, so it would have been more important to have an off-site replica provisioned.

Another option is to simply backup to cloud. This is probably a good choice for many people who don’t want or don’t know how to manage their own backup system. I, however, like to have physical ownership of my data.

I’ll be claiming a warranty replacement for this IronWolf drive. I don’t often do RMA because most of my drives fail after warranty. This would be my first Seagate RMA in a very long while, and if there’s anything interesting about the process, I’ll be sure to share about it.

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