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Noldor
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WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:05 am

As the title says, I would like to inquire whether Western Digital drives SMART firmware is known to be extra-sensitive to even the smallest vibration or restart.

Several days ago I bought a new HP Probook 430 G3 laptop. It has a Western Digital 500 GB drive. In about 5 days (with 46 hours of functioning), its g-sense error rate reached 30 and its unsafe shutdown counts stands at 20. Now, such numbers are not a big deal per se, but it's way too fast. The WD drive has the same number of g-sense errors as (for instance) an external 2.5 Seagate HD accumulated in 80 days of functioning. Another Samsung 3.5 drive (internal) reached 164 g-errors in more than 200 days of functioning.
There might be a (possible) explanation for this: the laptop is light and thin and I use many external devices, so connecting them to the USB ports might cause some slight vibration (especially in the beginning, since the USB slots were a bit tight). So could typing. But are WD drives really THAT sensitive?
I gave a google search and I noticed that there are many people who remarked that the g-sense error rate value of WD drives increases quite fast...

Also the WD accumulated 20 unsafe shutdowns. Unless a WD drives counts any restart after a program install or reboot after rummaging through the BIOS as an unsafe shutdown, there is nowhere where so many unsafe shutdown could have come from. In this regard, I have two external WD drives and they also accumulated unsafe shutdowns at a significantly faster rate than other drives like Seagate, Samsung, Hitachi, etc. My external WD drives don't have the G-sense error rate attribute (in order to make a comparison) and I really wonder whether WD didn't deliberately omit it, because an external drive, who is more prone to bumps and nudges, would soon pile hundreds of G-sense errors.

So, what's the deal with WD and its SMART?
 
TwistedKestrel
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:50 am

SMART attributes can sometimes be a bit ephemeral - I wouldn't worry about anything bad happening with those numbers. Maybe the anti-drop protection on the drive is tuned conservatively, which isn't so bad. Don't have a good theory for the unsafe shutdown thing, or what the drive even defines as an unsafe shutdown
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:08 am

A g-sense error does not mean the drive is failing, it just means that the drive had to abort and retry an operation because of shock or vibration. For mechanical HDDs used in mobile applications this is pretty normal. Unless you're seeing unexpected system freezes during disk activity I don't think you need to worry.

The "unsafe shutdown" attribute is also known as the "power-off retract" attribute. For a mechanical HDD it is the number of times power was removed while the drive was spinning with the heads loaded. If you do a hard power down, or if the OS does not put the drive in standby before shutting down, this count will increase. All modern HDDs automatically retract their heads off of the platters when power is removed, so this isn't a cause for concern either. The thing you really want to avoid is removing power while data is actually being written to the drive.

(The way HDDs do the power-off retract is interesting. Since power is going away they can't count on using the normal power rails to move the heads off the platters. There's a fail-safe circuit that turns the spindle motor into a generator, and the kinetic energy of the spinning platters is used to power the head actuator for the few milliseconds it takes to get the heads out of harm's way.)
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Noldor
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:18 am

just brew it! wrote:
A g-sense error does not mean the drive is failing, it just means that the drive had to abort and retry an operation because of shock or vibration. For mechanical HDDs used in mobile applications this is pretty normal.


I know that. But is it normal to accumulate several g-sense errors per day or are WD's anti-drop protection known to be tuned more conservatively?
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:52 am

Noldor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
A g-sense error does not mean the drive is failing, it just means that the drive had to abort and retry an operation because of shock or vibration. For mechanical HDDs used in mobile applications this is pretty normal.

I know that. But is it normal to accumulate several g-sense errors per day

Unless the laptop is sitting on a sturdy desk and not moved around while it is being used, I would say "probably".

Even loud noises can disrupt the operation of a HDD. A few months ago I saw a YouTube video (can't find it right now) where someone had a real-time plot of recovered disk I/O errors on a rack mount server. Just yelling through the front air intake vents caused a noticeable spike in error rates.
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:54 am

 
just brew it!
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:57 am

Glorious wrote:
https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=118540

Heh. Thanks. I forgot that I was the one who originally posted the link here! (I think a co-worker originally sent it to me on one of the internal Slack channels... since I work in the storage industry now we follow stuff like this pretty obsessively.)
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TwistedKestrel
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:58 am

just brew it! wrote:
(The way HDDs do the power-off retract is interesting. Since power is going away they can't count on using the normal power rails to move the heads off the platters. There's a fail-safe circuit that turns the spindle motor into a generator, and the kinetic energy of the spinning platters is used to power the head actuator for the few milliseconds it takes to get the heads out of harm's way.)

I didn't know that... I always assumed there was a tiny power reserve provided by capacitors. That is way cooler
 
Noldor
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:48 am

just brew it! wrote:
Unless the laptop is sitting on a sturdy desk and not moved around while it is being used, I would say "probably".

Even loud noises can disrupt the operation of a HDD. A few months ago I saw a YouTube video (can't find it right now) where someone had a real-time plot of recovered disk I/O errors on a rack mount server. Just yelling through the front air intake vents caused a noticeable spike in error rates.


But the laptop IS sitting on a sturdy desk and is not moved around while it is being used.
For instance, I have a second one and, after 110 functioning days, his g-sense error rate value is ZERO (his drive is a Seagate). True, this one is a 15.6 weighting 2.5 kg, while the other is a 13.3 weighting only 1.5 kg, while also thinner, so I assume this makes the latter more sensitive to vibrations, but even so, 30 G-sense errors in 2 functioning days seems exaggerated. That's why I wanted to know whether WD's anti-drop protection is more finely tuned than for other brands.
But I'd say we have a rather easy solution. If you (or anyone else) have any WD drives, preferable 2.5, can you check and specify their G-error rate values to see if this case is an outlier?
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:01 pm

All of the laptops in the family have SSDs in them now.

I do have a few WD 2.5" HDDs at home I could check. I'll try to remember to pop a few of them into a drive dock and have a look at the SMART data. It won't be conclusive though, since they're all older (probably ranging in age from 2 to 5 years).
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:19 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Even loud noises can disrupt the operation of a HDD. A few months ago I saw a YouTube video (can't find it right now) where someone had a real-time plot of recovered disk I/O errors on a rack mount server. Just yelling through the front air intake vents caused a noticeable spike in error rates.

Dang. I feel bad for yelling at my computers now.
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Noldor
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:43 pm

just brew it! wrote:

It won't be conclusive though, since they're all older (probably ranging in age from 2 to 5 years).


Since SMART also records the number of power on hours, it's easy to calculate the average.
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:44 pm

Noldor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:

It won't be conclusive though, since they're all older (probably ranging in age from 2 to 5 years).

Since SMART also records the number of power on hours, it's easy to calculate the average.

My point was that they are almost certainly a completely different model than yours, so we probably can't compare them directly.
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Noldor
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:49 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Noldor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:

It won't be conclusive though, since they're all older (probably ranging in age from 2 to 5 years).

Since SMART also records the number of power on hours, it's easy to calculate the average.

My point was that they are almost certainly a completely different model than yours, so we probably can't compare them directly.


It's worth a try, because I would expect there is good chance for the firmware to have similar functions. As I mentioned previously, the ultra-sensitivity to unsafe shut downs is common across all the WDs I possess (even though they are also different models).

A bit off-topic, but since you mentioned SSDs, is it true that they can lose data if they are not powered on for more than 3 months?
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:53 pm

Noldor wrote:
A bit off-topic, but since you mentioned SSDs, is it true that they can lose data if they are not powered on for more than 3 months?

Generally, you'll be fine. http://www.anandtech.com/show/9248/the- ... -retention

It's not a big factor until it's measured in years.
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:30 pm

...unless you've got a Samsung 840 EVO with the original factory firmware, in which case after 3 months getting your data back will be reeeeeally sloooooow...
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Waco
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:38 pm

caconym wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
Even loud noises can disrupt the operation of a HDD. A few months ago I saw a YouTube video (can't find it right now) where someone had a real-time plot of recovered disk I/O errors on a rack mount server. Just yelling through the front air intake vents caused a noticeable spike in error rates.

Dang. I feel bad for yelling at my computers now.

If it makes you feel better my NAS is sitting 10 feet away from eight 15" subwoofers. I tried reproducing the "yelling at disks" video while doing a scrub (which peaks out at around 1.8 GB/s) and saw no disturbances even at "annoy your neighbors because their dishes are rattling" levels of output from the subwoofers. Yelling at them didn't hurt either. :P

Perhaps it's only higher frequencies that cause problems, but it takes more than you'd expect to disturb modern disks. Perhaps random IO latency is far more affected but I didn't bother testing that.
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Noldor
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:57 pm

just brew it! wrote:
...unless you've got a Samsung 840 EVO with the original factory firmware, in which case after 3 months getting your data back will be reeeeeally sloooooow...


Eh? What does that mean?
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:08 pm

Noldor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
...unless you've got a Samsung 840 EVO with the original factory firmware, in which case after 3 months getting your data back will be reeeeeally sloooooow...

Eh? What does that mean?

http://techreport.com/news/28112/new-84 ... o-firmware

If you don't update the firmware, read speeds can drop by nearly a factor of 10 for older data.

Samsung releasing a clearly broken product, then dragging their feet on a fix, is one of the reasons I am (still) boycotting Samsung. Factor in the Note 7 battery fiasco, and the washing machines that fly apart if the load is unbalanced, and there seems to be a pattern of cutting corners lately.
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Waco
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:16 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Noldor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
...unless you've got a Samsung 840 EVO with the original factory firmware, in which case after 3 months getting your data back will be reeeeeally sloooooow...

Eh? What does that mean?

http://techreport.com/news/28112/new-84 ... o-firmware

If you don't update the firmware, read speeds can drop by nearly a factor of 10 for older data.

And if you wait long enough, I bet you'd get corruption / EIO trying to read some sectors.
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:03 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Samsung releasing a clearly broken product, then dragging their feet on a fix, is one of the reasons I am (still) boycotting Samsung. Factor in the Note 7 battery fiasco, and the washing machines that fly apart if the load is unbalanced, and there seems to be a pattern of cutting corners lately.

I have the fun additional problem that I won't buy non-Samsung TLC for a "real SSD", because Samsung's the only one that seems to get it right.

Basically, with many vendors going to all TLC, all the time, this means that I'm getting pushed into high-end SSDs. At least I did my build before the Crucial MX200 got replaced with the MX300...
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:10 pm

Waco wrote:
If it makes you feel better my NAS is sitting 10 feet away from eight 15" subwoofers. I tried reproducing the "yelling at disks" video while doing a scrub (which peaks out at around 1.8 GB/s) and saw no disturbances even at "annoy your neighbors because their dishes are rattling" levels of output from the subwoofers. Yelling at them didn't hurt either. :P

Perhaps it's only higher frequencies that cause problems, but it takes more than you'd expect to disturb modern disks. Perhaps random IO latency is far more affected but I didn't bother testing that.


Eight fifteens! How much is your cover charge and who's your resident DJ? :)
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:50 pm

caconym wrote:
Eight fifteens! How much is your cover charge and who's your resident DJ? :)

It's mostly for home theater effects. The towers have 12" woofers to cover most of the musical range, the subs only take over below 40 Hz. 5 Hz is a wonderful effect. :D
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Noldor
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:03 am

just brew it! wrote:
Noldor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:

It won't be conclusive though, since they're all older (probably ranging in age from 2 to 5 years).

Since SMART also records the number of power on hours, it's easy to calculate the average.

My point was that they are almost certainly a completely different model than yours, so we probably can't compare them directly.


Speaking of which, I've found this thread from 5 years ago: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r27071405-Why-is-G-Sense-Error-Rate-not-0-on-a-brand-new-hard-drive

Someone said "Also going forward, please remember that in the case of 2.5" drives mounted in laptops, the shock sensors tend to be extremely sensitive. I've seen many Western Digital 2.5" drives increment their RAW_VALUE simply by gently (VERY gently!) placing the laptop, while running, on a flat surface. It's generally normal."

It seems more and more likely that my initial assumption was correct and that laptop drives (WD ones, at least) seems overly sensitive to any kind of movement/shock, no matter how small.
Can anyone else share their experience? Surely, many other people must have (or had) WD laptop drives.
 
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Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:32 am

Here are the stats (I filtered just for the specific attributes listed) for the drives in my spares pile that reported a G-Sense attribute (many of the older ones do not even report it, I omitted those):
Device Model:     WDC WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
Serial Number:    WD-WX11E83D7344
User Capacity:    1,000,204,886,016 bytes [1.00 TB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   096   096   000    Old_age   Always       -       3159
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       59
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   096   096   000    Old_age   Always       -       4
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       42
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       69
==========
Device Model:     WDC WD10JPVX-22JC3T0
Serial Number:    WD-WX31E73WVZ75
User Capacity:    1,000,204,886,016 bytes [1.00 TB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   096   096   000    Old_age   Always       -       3564
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       42
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   095   095   000    Old_age   Always       -       5
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       18
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       98
==========
Model Family:     Hitachi/HGST Travelstar Z7K500
Device Model:     HGST HTS725050A7E630
Serial Number:    TF1500WJGHRGAM
User Capacity:    500,107,862,016 bytes [500 GB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   073   073   000    Old_age   Always       -       12130
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       173
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       126
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       983055
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   083   083   000    Old_age   Always       -       175406
==========
Device Model:     TOSHIBA MK8037GSX
Serial Number:    77TIF4RTS
User Capacity:    80,026,361,856 bytes [80.0 GB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   081   081   000    Old_age   Always       -       7803
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1362
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       1305
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       5046349
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   066   066   000    Old_age   Always       -       342093
==========
Model Family:     Hitachi Travelstar 5K250
Device Model:     Hitachi HTS542525K9SA00
Serial Number:    080313BB2F00WDCT9J3C
User Capacity:    250,059,350,016 bytes [250 GB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0012   072   072   000    Old_age   Always       -       12467
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       810
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x000a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       105
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0012   099   099   000    Old_age   Always       -       10948
==========
Device Model:     HGST HTS541010A9E680
Serial Number:    JD10001V1HNK6B
User Capacity:    1,000,204,886,016 bytes [1.00 TB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0012   098   098   000    Old_age   Always       -       1025
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       15
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x000a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       10
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       139
==========
Model Family:     Toshiba 2.5" HDD MQ01ABD...
Device Model:     TOSHIBA MQ01ABD032
Serial Number:    52M6SC63S
User Capacity:    320,072,933,376 bytes [320 GB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   090   090   000    Old_age   Always       -       4228
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       248
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       4
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       16
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   095   095   000    Old_age   Always       -       55322
==========
Device Model:     HGST HTS541010A9E680
Serial Number:    JA1000100E3HGP
User Capacity:    1,000,204,886,016 bytes [1.00 TB]
SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       202
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       59
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x000a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       8
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       351

As noted previously, Power-Off Retract is a synonym for Unsafe Shutdown. No idea what's up with the Retract counters on the Toshiba MK8037GSX and the HGST HTS725050A7E630, but IIRC they came out of used/refurb laptops so who knows...

Note that the pair of WDC 1TB drives (first two drives in the list) spent most of their powered on hours as part of a RAID-1 hot swap array in a desktop system.
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ludi
Lord High Gerbil
Posts: 8022
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: WD drives have Extra-sensitivity to vibration and restarts?

Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:49 am

Noldor wrote:
It seems more and more likely that my initial assumption was correct and that laptop drives (WD ones, at least) seems overly sensitive to any kind of movement/shock, no matter how small.
Can anyone else share their experience? Surely, many other people must have (or had) WD laptop drives.

Had, maybe. Anytime I refurbish a laptop these days an SSD is the first upgrade, and whatever mechanical drive was in there is usually destined for the tech recycle box.
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