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Does the load cycle count shown below, using SMART, show the total count of the hard drives lifetime? What is the maximum count?

Load_Cycle_Count 0x0032 081 081 000 Old_age Always - 39246

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Assuming your drive firmware is operating correctly, you have had 39246 load cycles for the lifetime of the disk.

I've read that 500,000 to 600,000 is fine for most drives, but I believe this is defined by the manufacturer. You should go to the manufacturer's website for more information.

It's a good idea to track how many sectors are being remapped. If these increase rapidly it's time to think about replacing the hard drive. sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda, for example, will also list the most recent I/O errors for drive /dev/sda.

It's always time to think about how adequate your data backups are.

You can use palimpsest to get an overall summary of how your drives are doing. See also How Do I interpret HDD S.M.A.R.T Results?

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Thank you, that was helpful indeed! I'll check out those links you provided. –  mattrudlles Jul 29 '12 at 12:12

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