Dell E6410 Refurb & Odd Hard Drive “Power On Hours”

At my prior employer we had thousands of Dell D630 (my favorite) and E6410 notebooks or, as I like to still call them, laptops.  A side thought: a quick search turned up this post on why the term “laptop” has been phased out and an ironic example of Apple’s marketing from back in 2006 (Apple: “don’t put our laptops on your lap”) when “laptops” were transitioning to “notebooks” or “portable computers”.

The Dell D630 and E6410 laptops were bulletproof.  After the E6410, HP ProBooks were issued and, in my narrow sample size, did not live up to the same ruggedness.  Fast forward to my current leadership role where we have chosen to purchase E6410 refurbished laptops from Newegg.  Before jumping to conclusions, recognize our requirements: rugged, TPM equipped for Bitlocker, reliable, readily available parts, reasonable docking stations, and decent battery life.  Notice I did not mention “super-fast-ultra-high-performance”.  Most users, consistent with our users, have performance as a secondary requirement.  With over 100 refurbished E6410 laptops deployed, I can say confidently we were stewards of our financial resources easily saving ~$30,000 in new, current generation Latitude/ProBooks.  For those users needing more performance, we simply doubled the RAM to 8GB and swapped in an SSD.  The first generation i5 are fast enough.

Back to the original point of this post: artificial power-on time.  After having success with the E6410 refurbs, I purchased one for family.  After installing a clean copy of Windows 7, I quickly checked the hard drive S.M.A.R.T data.  This is what I found:

e6410 refurb power on hours

295,016 hours!
Or roughly 12292 days; almost 34 years.

My immediate thought was maybe the company that does the refurbishment somehow alters the S.M.A.R.T. data.  Well, a little digging, and I turn up this excellent FAQ courtesy of the open source project Smartmontools.

It turns out the S.M.A.R.T. data is rather vendor specific.  Instead of working with the command line and Smartmontools, I downloaded GSmartControl, a UI front-end for Smartmontools, and I got this updated screenshot:

e6410 refurb power on hours minutes

19836 hours + 43 minutes (Hex 1227bb converts to 118981 minutes divided by 60).  This is a much more plausible number.  Not sure where Crystal Disk got its number.

~2.26 years.  I was surprised at the few “Power Cycle Count” at  309 times.  The average power up had the drive powered for ~64 hours (19836/309).  I was also interested in the high “Load / Unload Cycle” number: 504,004 is high, very high.

The S.M.A.R.T. Wikipedia page sheds light on this metric:

Count of load/unload cycles into head landing zone position.[28]  
Western Digital rates their VelociRaptor drives for 600,000 load/unload cycles,[29] and WD Green drives for 300,000 cycles;[30] the latter ones are designed to unload heads often to conserve power. On the other hand, the WD3000GLFS (a desktop drive) is specified for only 50,000 load/unload cycles.[31]

In other words, if 504,004 is the real “Load / Unload Cycle” number, this hard drive has seen its share of wear-and-tear.

For now, the hard seems to be working fine.  One last thing: check out the Smartmontools for Windows Package by Ozy de Jong. It can easily install Smartmontools as a Windows Service and has out-of-the-box email and local warning messages in the event S.M.A.R.T. data detects a problem or failure.  In this case, this E6410 is not important enough to warrant self-monitoring via email but for anything critical or any remote systems (e.g. a BlueIris video security recorder that is very hard drive intensive at a remote location).



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