Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ubuntu default acpi-support values shorten laptop disk lifespan

The bug is listed on launchpad.net and should get your attention:

"When switching to battery power, /etc/acpi/power.sh issues the command hdparm -B 1 to all block devices. This leads to extremely frequent load cycles. For example, my new thinkpad has already done well over 7000 load cycles -- in only 100 hours. That's at least one unloading per minute. Googling for "load unload cycles notebook OR laptop" shows that most laptop drives handle up to 600,000 such cycles. As these values clearly show, this issue is of high importance and should be fixed sooner rather than later.

Please see for yourself how often your drive is load cycling:
smartctl -d ata -a /dev/sda

(This command is for an SATA drive; you'll need to install the smartmontools package first.)

See also http://paul.luon.net/journal/hacking/BrokenHDDs.html for a rather dramatic account of the effects the current default values may have."

I have seen this happen to several Toshiba laptops I had under my wings, so I am always checking my installations to ensure this is not being activated on my laptops.

A pretty good fix is:
  • create a file "99-hdd-spin-fix.sh"
  • put in the following two lines:
    • #!/bin/bash
    • hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda
  • place file in following directories:
    • /etc/acpi/suspend.d/
    • /etc/acpi/resume.d/
    • /etc/acpi/start.d/

Spread the word!