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HP N40L: not getting HDD SMART data


HPLovecraft
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Hi all, I've already posted about this over at the Covecube Scanner forum, but I think my issue might relate to my hardware, not their software. I've have had a good look around this forum, but can't see the answer to my issue - please could someone point me in the right direction..?

 

I have an HP N40L doing (pretty light) family server duties in my home. Spec is:

  • HP Microserver N40L
  • 2GB RAM
  • WHS 2011
  • Running: Logitech Media Server, Plex, Lights-Out, and just added DrivePool & Scanner.
  • Centralised storage for all the family docs, music, pics and some videos to stream.
Hard drives are:
  • 1 x 250GB HP VB0250EAVER - system disk (listed by Scanner as 'ATA'). Connected straight to the spare SATA port on the motherboard (I moved it out of the built-in caddy to free up a slot. The system disk now lives in the optical drive bay)
  • 2 x 2TB Seagate ST2000DM001 - for storage (listed by Scanner as 'SCSI'). Connected in the server's drive caddies.
  • 2 x 3TB HGST Deskstar H3IKNAS30003272E - for storage (listed by Scanner as 'SCSI'). Connected in the server's drive caddies.
Other stuff:
  • My BIOS is set to 'IDE' mode
  • Device Manager lists the HDD controller as 'Embedded SATA controller'.
 
Have just installed DrivePool & am using it to keep my files duplicated (very pleased with it so far), and finally Scanner, to keep an eye on the disks for me.
 
I've found that only the system disk (plugged direct into the motherboard) passes S.M.A.R.T. info through to Scanner. Have tried switching Scanner to its 'Unsafe IO' mode with no change.

 

I'm not blaming Scanner, as Seagate & HItachi disk tools don't get S.M.A.R.T. data from the 4 storage disks either, nor does the separate test widget supplied by the Scanner guys.

 
Is there something about the way the N40L caddies are wired that would stop S.M.A.R.T. data being passed through? Seems a shame not to have this useful feature of Scanner working properly. Thankyou in advance, any advice would be gratefully received!

 

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Hi nrf - that's interesting (and encouraging) - do you happen to remember if your BIOS is set to 'IDE' or 'AHCI' mode?

 

Since I first posted it's been suggested to me that being on IDE mode might be a factor. I was thinking of changing it over to AHCI (I gather there's a registry hack that will allow this without reinstalling the OS).

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Yes, there is a registry hack. I don't recall what it is, but it's not hard to find with BING or google. I've used it several times without any issues. The only 'trick', if you want to call it that, is that you have to do the Registry mod while booted up in IDE mode, then reboot, go into the BIOS, make the change to AHCI, and reboot again.

 

Also, I would seriously look into upgrading the N40L to at least 4GB of RAM; 8GB would be even better.

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Though, I do believe that only affects the boot device.

 

That's interesting. I've done it a few times and it didn't seem to hinder access to other drives, but then I'm not sure if it would anyway.

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I should clarify, the boot device is the only one that is dependant on having the right driver installed.

 

Since the non-system disks are not critical, it will install the new device drivers for those disks after the system has booted.

 

But without the right driver for the system disk, you'll get boot errors or BSODs during boot (it's addressing a device that no longer exists)

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Thanks for the replies everyone (and for your advice over at the other forum too Drashna, I assume that's you too?). I'm not going to bug anyone any further about my lack of S.M.A.R.T. data until I've flipped the disk mode to AHCI - that's a little job for this weekend. Whatever happens, I'll report back.

 

@ikon specifically: you read my mind about memory, I'm definitely going to increase the RAM on the Microserver - probably just to 4GB because of budget constraints. Right now the Dashboard takes ages to load and admin tasks over RDP can be quite tedious.

 

I've done some housekeeping on the server since New Year and have a nice tidy OCD feeling about it right now: two new storage disks installed, system drive moved into the optical bay, backup regime overhauled, RAID1 thrown out and replaced by DrivePool (which is terrific - I'm loving DrivePool). If I can crack this SMART data thing, the server will be in the best shape it's ever been in!

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You know, if you get StableBit Scanner running I wouldn't even worry about SMART. Set up a schedule to have Scanner do surface scans of the drives and I think that's a much better indicator of drive health than anything SMART will tell you. Because it was developed by a committee, whose members all had competing and incompatible interests, SMART is an 'iffy' technology at best. I just don't trust it very much at all.

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Blimey, that didn't go quite like I'd planned..!

 

First off the good news: I switched to AHCI mode and all drives are now showing S.M.A.R.T. data, no problem.

 

Slightly alarmingly, once I'd rebooted for the last time, two of my storage drives (the most recent pair that I added at New Year) weren't picked up at all any more - Windows saw them as uninitialised. My buttocks clenched briefly until I remembered that they were well backed up, and also duplicated in DrivePool by the other pair of drives.

 

It did occur to me to go researching how to salvage the disks (I bet there is a way..?), but in the end I took the lazy way out: reinitialised them, reformatted them into the same partitions as before, added them to the pool, and went for a cup of tea whilst DrivePool did it's duplicate-y magic. It's still doing it now. There are some other (non-critical) files not in the pool, which I'll hopefully restore from a WHS2011 backup - I've been looking for an excuse to try this, as I always felt guilty I'd never put those backups to the test before.

 

So what did I learn today..?

  1. I need to be in AHCI mode to get S.M.A.R.T. data.
  2. Having more than one copy of my files is A Good Thing (actually, I already knew that).
  3. DrivePool is very clever (I'd already gathered that too), and my slightly fussy method of forcing duplication onto disks of different brands isn't as daft as it sounds.
  4. Having to connect a monitor & keyboard to my server so I can change things in the BIOS is a pain in the a**e, and I should avoid ever doing it again at all costs.

 

Thanks for the advice everyone, I do enjoy tinkering about like this, but only if there are brainy people on hand to point me in the right direction!  :D

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