How to prepare your hard disks

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Article Archived

This article has been archived - in the Synology Disk Station Manager Firmware, version DSM 2.2 and above, has improved functions and resiliency against disk errors when creating a volume within the Disk Station. As such, there is no need to perform the steps listed in the article below to prepare a disk before using the disk in the Synology Disk Station

For Non-Redundant Volumes

Users of Non-Redundant Volumes will see the following image to perform a disk check before proceeding with Volume Creation. It's recommended to use a Disk Check procedure.

DiskCheck.png

For Redundant Volumes

Users of Redundant Volume types can use complete consistency check to perform a disk check while creating a RAID Volume.

Archival Notes

The procedure listed below can still be used to test older hard drives, to ensure that the disk is still healthy, or to attempt to extend the longevity of an older disk.


Overview

This article is a simple guide covering how to prepare hard disks for use in the Synology product. This procedure is completely optional however it is recommended.

A reason for preparing hard disks is that lowers the risk of HDD downtime. Any hard disk purchased today will have bad sectors in it. Today's hard drives have a built-in capability called "sector remapping" which will remap (or repair) the defective sector with a backup supply of sectors. This process is seamless to the user and it doesn't require user intervention. However, if there are several defective sectors, the hard disk can time out while attempting to remap multiple defective sectors, which can result in the computing device that the hard disk is failing to respond correctly, or it can lead to other difficulties, such as communicating or retrieving data from the hard disk. Instead of "reacting" to the defective sectors, this procedure is a "pro-active" measure, which aims at reducing or eliminating the possibility of any computing device from encountering defective sectors on hard disks. Below is the guide on how to execute this procedure, how it works is by filling every sector with data, thus forcing the HDD to use every single sector. By using every single sector, it requires that all the bad sectors to be remapped immediately, instead of waiting to attempt to remap the sectors during system operation.

Notes:

  • Using Enterprise-Class disks can usually avoid this error, as most Enterprise-Class disks are designed to remap a defective sector under ten seconds (instead of several minutes with Desktop-Class); though being pro-active about defective sectors is still recommended for Enterprise-Class disks.
  • The differences between an Enterprise-Class HDD and a Desktop Class HDD are discussed here.


Primary Method

Using any of the mentioned procedures below will irreparably destroy any and all data on the target disks. Be sure that the correct disks are selected before using this procedure. For security sakes, please remove the power cords to the "primary" or "production use" (ie, live disks) before executing this procedure, if possible.

  1. Download Darik's Boot and Nuke and burn the ISO CD image
  2. Power down your PC
  3. Install the new HDD into said PC
  4. Start up the PC and boot up to the DBAN CD
  5. DBAN will boot up to a blue screen, with a series of options using the Function Keys, press "ENTER" to continue
  6. Now you will see a selection of HDDs (and partitions, if applicable)
  7. Press "M" on your keyboard, and move the arrow cursor to "Quick Wipe" and press the "Spacebar"
    • On the upper left hand corner, the method should state "quick wipe"
  8. Then using the "space bar" and "arrow keys", select which drive you wish to wipe, in this case, the new HDD that was just acquired
  9. Then press "F10" to start the process. There is no warning prompt, please be sure that you have selected the CORRECT drive to wipe
  10. After the wipe is completed, return the computer to it's original configuration and install the HDD in the Synology product and proceed with the Synology Assistant to install the Firmware on the Synology Product
    • For multi-bay products, it is recommended to use the complete consistency check when creating a RAID-volume, if presented.


Results

Smart.gif

Please refer to the attached screen cap to look at a defective drive, however, after several forced the sector remaps (a few burn tests) the drive behaved as normal without any further troubles. However at this point of degradation, it is best to send the drive for warranty repair/replacement, as the HDD no longer has spare sectors to remap defective sectors.


Alternative methods

Windows

This method is for those users who do not wish to open the insides of their computer (or own a Windows laptop)

  1. Download Roadkil's Diskwipe
  2. Install your new HDD inside a HDD enclosure
  3. Plug in the enclosure to your Windows PC
  4. Execute RoadKil's Diskwipe
    • Set the target disk accordingly, you can find out the disk number in the Disk Management Menu, from Administrative Tools.
  5. Set options to Random data, 1-pass, and execute
  6. Let the system work, as noted with the DBAN procedure, your will be allocating resources to the disk wipe; it may respond slower than normal. It will require many hours and the computer cannot be turned off.


Mac OS X 10.4

This link was found by forum user teo, and judging from the information, it should meet the same goals as the primary method, as long as the Disk Utility erases the entire hard drive.
Erasing a disk or volume


Linux

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M conv=noerror
  • Note: Be sure that the HDD variable (sda) is specified correctly


Notes

  • Formating is not the same as the above procedure
  • During the DBAN process, the computer is locked for that singular task, and it cannot be used for any other function. It is best to perform this procedure during the night, when the computer is not going to be used.
  • Other tools may be used, instead of using DBAN; the only pre-requisite is that the tool have the ability of "wiping" or "writing 0s" to every single sector on the hard disk
  • For laptop owners, if your laptop supports booting up to external HDDs, you can use the DBAN procedure to wipe your new disk, assuming you have the HDD inside of a external enclosure. If you wish for a Windows method, please refer to the "Alternative Method"
  • This same procedure is used to permanently destroy data on hard disks to prevent unauthorized data recovery, which is strongly recommended if the HDD is being donated, sold, or being recycled due to old age/performance. Selecting a higher level of destruction (DoD, Guttman, NSA Standard) is used to prevent unauthorized data recovery.
  • SpeedFan is free tool available for Windows, which can be used to read the SMART reports from hard disks.


Further Reading

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