Posts Tagged ‘Hard Disk


Quick Look: a not so mysterious hard disk

I’ve been quite busy over the holiday break, but whilst visiting my parents I found what I thought was a mystery hard disk. Here’s a photo.

It has Trigem on the label, something I’ve not seen before. I didn’t know until looking closer at the drive much later that it’s actually a Samsung drive manufactured for Trigem, who was the company behind e-machines. So it’s no surprise that it was in an e-machine that Dad found it.

If you look on the underside of this drive you can see that the board is even labeled as being a Samsung Voyager 3A, 4A or 5A.

Having discovered it’s not exactly as mysterious as I thought I decided to power it on and give it a quick test to see if it works. Given that it had been floating around Dad’s shed for quite some time I was quite surprised that it spun up and had no bad sectors. It achieved about 9MB/s using a USB2IDE adapter when reading the entire surface. I loaded up some disk diagnostic software to check out what kind of condition the drive is in.

It identifies itself as a Samsung SV0322A spinpoint drive and despite its age it seems in relatively good condition. It’s quite small at only 3.2Gb, but it will probably be useful for a retro machine running either DOS or Win9x, so I’ll be adding this drive to my collection of other retired hard disks.


A Tiny Hitachi Hard Disk

I was given this small Hitachi hard drive that I just had to photograph and share.

Here it is next to a standard sized 2.5 inch drive. Amazingly it is almost half the size of the full sized drive, and yet has 4 times the capacity. The drive was made in June 2004 and has the Travelstar name printed on it, indicating that this was likely an IBM model. Hitachi and IBMs hard drive division had merged in 2003, IBMs Travelstar and Deskstar series drives became a part of the Hitachi line. Even after the merger IBM continued to use the now Hitachi parts, this particular example came out of an IBM Thinkpad.

Unlike the IBM Deskstar, Hitachi drives have mostly had a pretty good reputation. I only every saw mostly 2.5 inch drives in the wild, usually in laptops.

Here is a shot of the underside of the drive, nothing really all that special to report. Until next time…


Hardware Donation

It’s not everyday that someone moves house, and when someone I know moved house recently they found a pile of old computer gear they didn’t want anymore. They asked me if I wanted any of it and of course I said yes! So last weekend I got this rather large box of old computer gear. I just had enough time this weekend to unpack it and take some photos.

Continue reading ‘Hardware Donation’


Hard Disk Heaven

Unfortunately my computers main hard disk and back up drive have once again thrown up some SMART errors, that whilst thankfully are non-fatal, have sent me into a flurry or backing everything up. This got me thinking about all the hard disks I have floating around in my collection and so I decided to dust them all off and take some photos of the more interesting ones.

MiniScribe Drives

MiniScribe Drives

First up are two MiniScribe MFM hard disks from the early days of PC computing. The one on the right shows the common use of stepper motors to move the heads in early hard disks, the other may be one of the first to use voice coils, we can’t tell from the outside.

MiniScribe as a company is famous for how they went out of business. They were running low on funds, but wanted to make everything look good on paper, so they sent out a bunch of bricks instead of hard disks to some customers who were in on it. They laid off some staff involved shortly after, who of course went to the papers and of course the rest is history. A rival company Maxtor ended up buying their intellectual property.

Full Height 3.5 inch SCSI Drives

Full Height 3.5 inch SCSI Drives

The second group here are all full height 3.5 inch SCSI drives, all around the 200MB capacity. In the back left is a Conner cp3200F, a drive that came out of a 486 we had in my late teens, as far as I know it still works. At the back right is a drive made by Digital (Digital Equipment Corporation), this would have most likely been in one of their computing products of the time like a vax station. It may actually be a re-badged drive from another manufacturer such as Conner. You’ll notice they both look very similar. Also in picture is an old Quantum ProDrive 210S and a Maxtor LXT213SY.

Common SCSI Drives

Common SCSI Drives

Here we have a Quantum ProDrive LPS SCSI drive (top) that was very common in early Macintosh machines. I had heard that these drives had a problem where the lubrication in the spindle was too stiff for it to spin up until warm. Users were instructed to try to jolt the machine in such a way as to loosen the grease and start the drive. I guess they could have also warmed it up by some means. The story sounds a bit fanciful, but I didn’t use machines with these drives so I don’t know how true it is.

The drive on the bottom left is a Seagate ST31055W SCSI drive that is quite a bit more modern. Drives like it were frequently used in commodity PC servers in the early 2000’s. The drive on the right is a fujitsu MAN3184MC SCSI drive with an all in one connector. This connector was commonly used in more high end equipment and was frequently found in Sun machines. My old Sparcstation 20 will accept these drives and it was developed in 1992. This type of drive didn’t fall out of favour until SAS became the norm for servers, many servers currently still running are using these drives. I’m lucky to have a number of these drives spare including four 10,000 RPM HP drives of this type.

Some smaller IDE drives

Some smaller IDE drives

Two of these drives are remarkable in the form factor they seem to fit in. Both are Seagate drives, a ST51080N and a ST5660A, which are about 1GB and ~500MB in size respectively. You can see that they are both significantly smaller than the Western Digital Caviar drive, which is about the standard size for most 3.5 inch drives today. The Western Digital drive is a Caviar 11200 10G disk, and as such is younger than the other two. It seems to have an IBM sticker on it, so at some point it came out of an IBM machine.

"Modern" drives

“Modern” drives

The last three drives are somewhat more modern than the rest, two are laptop drives which are an IBM TravelStar and a SATA Hitachi 120G drive. Both are pulled out of laptops from when I was working in IT support. The third drive is a Western Digital WD3200KS drive which is SATA and 320G. This used to be my main drive for a time until it developed bad sectors and got retired. I keep it pretty much only for nostalgia and the fact it has a nice backup of my system on it from the time it died. Whilst it was purchased in roughly 2006, it is a good physical representation of what modern drives look like today.

This concludes the photo tour of the mostly retired hard disks of my collection. In the time it’s taken me to prepare this post, I’ve managed to run the Western Digital tool on my main disk, and it is now looking healthy again without any data loss. I’ll still need to replace it sooner or later as errors like this are often indicative of more arriving soon. The backup drive is looking distinctly much less healthy, but at least it wasn’t storing anything more than a backup, so I’ll simply replace it when I get some money.

I’ve found it interesting that the older drives I have are more reliable than my modern equivalents, some of the old ones still work with no bad sectors, and I’ve put them to use in my Sun machines. Most however are untested. I’ll be keeping all the older drives as they have historical value even if they don’t work. Some like the small Seagate IDE drives I picked up simply because of the small form factor and are in my collection mostly as a curiousity.

I also have a bunch of modern hard disks that are untested, but are frankly mostly unremarkable, so I may dispose of them if I need space. They might become a good source of strong magnets.

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