nojay (nojay) wrote,
  • Mood: Partitioned
  • Music: Oh Give Me A Clone

Live Fast, Die Young

 I've been running a solid-state disk (SSD) as the boot drive on my desktop machine for about a year or so. It has certainly made the machine snappier but I've been watching it worriedly as SSDs have a rep for dying in service before their time. And so when my machine started misbehaving today I ran some SMART diagnostics on the SSD and got the Bad News, that the sector reallocation count was way up there in lights.

 SSDs hold their data in flash RAM, like a USB stick but mapped in the old-fashioned way that spinning disks do, in what are called "sectors", a name derived from the cylindrical geometry of old-style disk storage. Being flash i.e. built down to a price and prone to eventual failure at the chip level, the controller in the SSDs can relocate the data in a newly-defective sector to a spare piece of extra memory reserved for the purpose. However this extra space is not infinite and it seems the spare-memory limits on my SSD are close to being exhausted.

 I've cloned the SSD drive onto a spare HDD I had to hand and swapped it out. If you need to clone a Windows boot disk and are looking for recommendations I used the freeware (for non-commercial use) AOMei Backupper tool. It works from the desktop, no need to reboot to a live CD or disconnect drives etc. and it will copy your live boot disk to, among others, a SATA drive in an external USB drive housing and make it bootable in the process. Much less faffing around than the previous times I've had to clone a boot disk. I can't guarantee it will work in your case but it was no hassle for me (this time).

 I've ordered a new SSD, roughly the same size but a bit faster (SATA-3 rather than SATA-2) and with a three-year warranty. When it gets here I'll reclone my existing HDD onto it and hopefully that will be it although I'll be keeping a close eye on it in case it decides to leave a good-looking corpse behind it too. I'll see if the failing drive can be RMAed for a replacement but I'm not sanguine about it.
Tags: computers
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