Sometimes laziness doesn't pay off

April 14, 2017

My office workstation has been throwing out complaints about some of its disks for some time, which I have been quietly clearing up rather than replace the disks. This isn't because these are generally good disks; in fact they're some Seagate 1TB drives which we haven't had the best of luck with. I was just some combination of too lazy to tear my office machine apart to replace a drive and too parsimonious with hardware to replace a disk drive before it failed.

(Working in a place with essentially no hardware budget is a great way to pick up this reflex of hardware parsimony. Note that I do not necessarily claim that it's a good reflex, and in some ways it's a quite inefficient one.)

Recently things got a bit more extreme, when one disk went from nothing to suddenly reporting 92 new 'Offline uncorrectable sector' errors (along with 'Currently unreadable (pending) sectors', which seems to travel with offline uncorrectable sectors). I looked at this, thought that maybe this was a sign that I should replace the disk, but then decided to be lazy; rather than go through the hassle of a disk replacement, I cleared all the errors in the usual way. Sure, the disk was probably going to fail, but it's in a mirror and when it actually did fail I could swap it out right away.

(I actually have a pair of disks sitting on my desk just waiting to be swapped in in place of the current pair. I think I've had them set aside for this for about a year.)

Well, talking about that idea, let's go to Twitter:

@thatcks: I guess I really should have just replaced that drive in my office workstation when it reported 92 Offline uncorrectable sectors.

@thatcks: At 5:15pm, I'm just going to hope that the other side of the mirrored pair survives until Monday. (And insure I have pretty full backups.)

Yeah, I had kind of been assuming that the disk would fail at some convenient time, like during a workday when I wasn't doing anything important. There are probably worse times for my drive to fail than right in front of me at 5:15 pm immediately before a long weekend, especially when I have a bike ride that evening that I want to go to, but I can't think of many that are more annoying.

(The annoyance is in knowing that I could swap the drive on the spot, if I was willing to miss the bike ride. I picked the bike ride, and a long weekend is just short enough that I'm not going to come in in the middle of it to swap the drive.)

I have somewhat of a habit of being lazy about this sort of thing. Usually I get away with it, which of course only encourages me to keep on being lazy and do it more. Then some day things blow up in my face, because laziness doesn't always pay off. I need to be better about getting myself to do those annoying tasks sooner or later rather than putting them off until I have no choice about it.

(At the same time strategic laziness is important, so important that it can be called 'prioritization'. You usually can't possibly give everything complete attention, time, and resources, so you need to know when to cut some nominal corners. This usually shows up in security, because there are usually an infinite number of things that you could be doing to make your environment just a bit more secure. You have to stop somewhere.)

Written on 14 April 2017.
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Last modified: Fri Apr 14 00:40:00 2017
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