In the last years adding new hard drives to desktop computers running GNU/Linux used to be very easy. The drive was just connected to the computer, partitioned, formatted and it worked well. It seems it may not be that easy now again.
I’ve bought a new Western Digital Caviar Green hard drive some time ago. I did some googling for using green hard drives on GNU/Linux and have found two surprising facts.
For first, new Western Digital hard drives use larger sectors and when partitioning the drive it’s important to align partitions properly otherwise performance of the drive will be poor. None of the tools I tried (fdisk, cfdisk, parted) was able to do the right thing. Maybe it’s because I’ve got older kernel on the computer and connecting the drive through a USB box to a laptop with recent Linux kernel didn’t help either. Should I synchronize installing new hard drives with operating system upgrades next time? Fortunately I could find a tip how to fix partitioning manually using fdisk.
For second, the Caviar Green drives park their heads just after several seconds of inactivity. It’s not much problem except for the drive lifetime. Indeed, according to my S.M.A.R.T. reports the expected lifetime of my new hard drive isn’t going to exceed the warranty period because of the frequent heads parking. Well, it’s only a counter after all and it mostly motivates one to perform backups regularly. The strange thing is that nobody seems to get the reason for such an aggressive parking policy in this kind of drive.