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Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

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Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Hi
I've noticed now that 2 of my hard drives which have been used for running virtual machines have drastically shortened their lives far faster than a normal aging of a disk. This has lead me to wonder if running 2 OS's directly from the same disk is a good idea and whether it is actually giving the drive a real hammering that it doesn't need.
My 2nd victim is on a machine dedicated to being a workhorse / server. It's now taking in excess of 5 minutes to boot and this is after i hear the hard drive heads clanging around several times and then it reboots, checks for a floppy etc. Obviously I'm not wanting to reinstall the host OS because its a headless box and that means dragging it out of the cupboard, connecting a monitor, KB, mouse etc (and its a real big heavy old box too!).
Anyway... what experiences have you had with virtual machines on your drives?
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Community Veteran
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

I have had Virtual pc's since 2000 and never had any problems with drives of any sort. Wear will be down to heat and vibration more than the drives being worked. The more drives you have the higher the chance of failure
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

I run all my server infrastructure in a virtualised environment, I haven't noticed any issues with the SAN recently.
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Quote from: okrzynska
dragging it out of the cupboard,

That might be a bigger clue to your premature drive failure.
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Quote from: okrzynska
My 2nd victim is on a machine dedicated to being a workhorse / server. It's now taking in excess of 5 minutes to boot and this is after i hear the hard drive heads clanging around several times and then it reboots, checks for a floppy etc. Obviously I'm not wanting to reinstall the host OS because its a headless box and that means dragging it out of the cupboard, connecting a monitor, KB, mouse etc (and its a real big heavy old box too!).
Anyway... what experiences have you had with virtual machines on your drives?

Quote from: chillypenguin
Quote from: okrzynska
dragging it out of the cupboard,

That might be a bigger clue to your premature drive failure.

I doubt it as it simply doesn't come out of the cupboard unless the OS needs reinstalling (and to date thats only once). You quote it like its a regular thing for me to drag it out yet its the total opposite - it lives there on a permanent basis. I thought I'd made it pretty clear that dragging it out was a very last resort...
@James: Do your VMs run 24/7? Mine were run, paused, run, paused etc pretty much every day which in itself would mean a lot of disk reading and writing on a daily basis.
@Sam: You may very well have a point about the heat as the cupboard does get rather warm in there with 2 machines running for an average of about 6 hours per day.
Might also be worth me mentioning that this is the machine that refused to shut down for ages a while back until I reinstalled the OS and I suspected then that it was either the hdd or the vmware server that was playing up. Reinstalled and went back to the VM player and no problems since but maybe the hdd does have an issue...
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Sorry okrzynska, my reference was intended to be directed at the "Cupboard" part not the moving.
I have suffered hard drive failures that I put down to the PC being located in a poorly ventilated cupboard. The magnetic properties of the materials used in hard drives changes with temperature, loosing its effectiveness.
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Ah now I see what you meant Wink
I did think about the heat thing but there are 2 other computers in there too. Only one of them is in regular use (it acts as a wifi AP) and its got a 10GB hdd which is at least 10 years old but still going strong.
One thing I've noticed since its been out of the cupboard is that when it crashes the hard drive makes that head clicking sound like the head has just hit the side of the drive (ok I know thats not physically possible but you know the sound I mean!).
I also thought about the PSU being overloaded as it has 1 hdd, 6 opticals (only 4 powered up and i've just unplugged 2 of those), floppy and a pci ide expansion card but I should think the PSU is decent enough to handle all that. Plus its still crashing with the extra opticals unplugged (which were never used anyway but thats another story).
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

VileReynard
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Quote from: okrzynska
One thing I've noticed since its been out of the cupboard is that when it crashes the hard drive makes that head clicking sound like the head has just hit the side of the drive (ok I know thats not physically possible but you know the sound I mean!).
I also thought about the PSU being overloaded as it has 1 hdd, 6 opticals (only 4 powered up and i've just unplugged 2 of those), floppy and a pci ide expansion card but I should think the PSU is decent enough to handle all that. Plus its still crashing with the extra opticals unplugged (which were never used anyway but thats another story).

That clicking is likely the disk re-calibrating after it has "lost" position on a track - it returns to track 0 and back several times.
What kind of disks do you have - I think a few SCSI disks were made that did this periodically as a "feature".
Do your disks allow sequential power up, so that the power surge on switch on is spread over 20-30 seconds.
After a backup, why not try one of those programs which "exercise" your disk, to see if you can force a crash?  Smiley

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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Quote from: chillypenguin
Does the drive support SMART
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-Monitoring,_Analysis,_and_Reporting_Technology

To be honest I don't know! They're mainly old drives people have given me after upgrades etc. I think i vaguely recall seeing the words 'SMART capable' and SMART disabled' in the bios though...
Quote from: Crucibleofevil
That clicking is likely the disk re-calibrating after it has "lost" position on a track - it returns to track 0 and back several times.
What kind of disks do you have - I think a few SCSI disks were made that did this periodically as a "feature".
Do your disks allow sequential power up, so that the power surge on switch on is spread over 20-30 seconds.

My drives are all IDE except for one external usb which i think is a SATA drive (no problems there yet!). No idea about the sequential power up either i'm afraid.
Quote from: Crucibleofevil
After a backup, why not try one of those programs which "exercise" your disk, to see if you can force a crash?  Smiley

Don't suppose you know of any freewares that do this?
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VileReynard
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Re: Virtual Machines - Do your hard drives live shorter lives?

Sounds like it might useful to download the appropriate disk recovery program from http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk and put it on a USB key etc.
I haven't used it myself.
I assume this is a Linux machine?
You could have a stab at trying http://pcsupport.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=pcsupport&cdn=compute&tm=14&f=00&su=p2...
(Download the DOS Grin Grin Grin version onto a bootable device) Smiley
These Windows people use the strangest things Smiley
Read the instructions FIRST.