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Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

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Unread 11-02-2017, 08:24 PM   #1
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Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

I recently built a "new" (old parts) system, to use as a router.
It has an AMD Athlon 64 X2 on a Biostar MCP6P M2+ board, with a single 2GB stick of DDR2. The OS is pfSense.

The HDD is a 7200RPM SATA Hitachi Deskstar, model HDP725050GLA360.

Every ten seconds or so, the HDD spins up, then down, seemingly endlessly. I've only just set up this system and I am new to pfSense so I might have set something up wrong, but I don't think it's a software problem:
- I tried changing the "Hard disk standby time" at "system_advanced_misc" from 24 min (which I had previously set before I noticed this issue) to "Always on"
- When that didn't work, I tried rebooting, and the issue persisted through POST
- I tried rebooting again, and this time I entered BIOS setup, the HDD spun down and stayed down. On a related note, HDD spindown in BIOS is disabled.
- Rebooted again, and even as pfSense boots the issue continues. It's maddening.

I checked the SMART report, and everything seemed fine. I checked it again today, and although the "Power_Cycle_Count " hasn't increased, the "Start_Stop_Count" "Power-Off_Retract_Count" and "Load_Cycle_Count" have nearly tripled in just three days. Before it was installed in my router, this HDD was in my desktop for years, so this is clearly not normal behaviour. Is there any way to stop this?

Attached is today's SMART report.

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Attached Files
File Type: txt smartofrouter.txt (9.5 KB, 2 views)
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Unread 13-02-2017, 11:15 PM   #2
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

It looks like I have to choose between crossing my fingers, reinstalling the OS and restoring the config from backup, or learning how to write a CRON script to prevent the drive spinning up and down. Yay.
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Unread 14-02-2017, 03:36 PM   #3
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

I'd suggest booting in to a Live USB and monitoring the HDD behavior. This will rule-out any hardware issues.

Never used pfSense before but did you try ataidle?

https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,26626.0.html
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Unread 16-02-2017, 01:40 AM   #4
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

I have not tried ataidle, that looks promising. I'll give that a go tomorrow, if it doesn't fix it I'll try a live USB.
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Unread 18-02-2017, 12:21 PM   #5
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

Ok, I tried ataidle. It turns out it's already included in the current version of pfSense.

Code:
[2.3.2-RELEASE][admin@<habibjpsrouter>]/root: ataidle /dev/ada0
Model:                  Hitachi HDP725050GLA360
Serial:                 GEC534RJ3D0LXE
Firmware Rev:           GM4OA5CA
ATA revision:           ATA-8
LBA 48:                 yes
Geometry:               16383 cyls, 16 heads, 63 spt
Capacity:               465GB
SMART Supported:        yes
SMART Enabled:          yes
Write Cache Supported:  yes
Write Cache Enabled:    yes
APM Supported:          yes
APM Enabled:            no
AAM Supported:          yes
AAM Enabled:            no
Vendor Recommended AAM: 1
[2.3.2-RELEASE][admin@<habibjpsrouter>]/root:
APM and AAM are both already disabled. Guess I'll have to try a liveUSB and see what happens.
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Unread 21-02-2017, 01:57 PM   #6
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

I tried booting into Ubuntu Live.

The HDD spun up when I opened GParted, but once that finished scanning it spun down again. Otherwise it stayed spun down.

So I guess I'm back to trying a reinstall or a CRON script.
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Unread 21-02-2017, 06:05 PM   #7
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

Hmm, surely pfSense is the problem then. Do they offer any kind of support?

And what can a CRON script do to stop this?

Also, is the NanoBSD install an option?

https://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/Fu...BSD_Comparison

Last edited by Strider; 21-02-2017 at 06:20 PM..
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Unread 22-02-2017, 01:54 PM   #8
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

They do offer support - if you pay for the premium version.They have forums as well but before I resort to that I want to see how much I can narrow it down.

The theory is that I could use a CRON script to continually write and rewrite a text file to the drive, thus preventing it from sleeping. In Windows you can get a program called NoSleepHD (among many others) to do this. I have no experience with CRON though so that option is rather daunting.

NanoBSD is an option but I really don't want to, it's more limited and RAM might bottleneck performance.
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Unread 22-02-2017, 04:38 PM   #9
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

Quote:
The theory is that I could use a CRON script to continually write and rewrite a text file to the drive, thus preventing it from sleeping. In Windows you can get a program called NoSleepHD (among many others) to do this. I have no experience with CRON though so that option is rather daunting.
Ah, that make sense. It should be fairly simple.

First create a Shell script to write a small file.
Code:
#! /bin/bash
dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/randomfile bs=1M count=1
Then use the crontab command to add a cron job to run say every 15 minutes.

Code:
1,15,30,45 * * * * /home/myUser/random.sh

Here is an excellent guide from nixCraft on Cron:

https://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/how-do...-or-unix-oses/

You might be able to achieve this using a single cronjob without a shell script.

Code:
1,15,30,45 * * * * touch /home/myUser/random.txt
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Unread 23-02-2017, 07:08 PM   #10
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Re: Hard drive spinning up and down constantly

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I gave that guide a read and it does seem simple, I'll give it a go later (low blood sugar atm!).

I wonder though, seeing as the highest frequency I could set is 1 minute, if the HDD may still spin up and down between script runs. I'll have to try it and find out anyway.

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