Sep 1, 2021
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A couple of months ago, I purchased a Seagate "Basic" 2TB USB external hard drive (STJL2000400).

Looks exactly like this:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Seagate-Basic-STJL2000400-Hard-drive-2-TB-external-portable-USB-3-0-gray/694094792

During light usage, it functions fine. However, I've been noticing that if I write a lot of data to it, for an extended period of time (for example, non-stop overnight), I will come back to it and find that it is running very slow, and even unresponsive at times.

While the drive is in this state, and I try to execute the ls in Ubuntu (to list the files in a folder on the mounted drive), the command just hangs. Sometimes it will take 5 seconds before the contents are shown. Sometimes 30 seconds. Sometimes more.

While the drive is in this state, and I run the command iotop in Ubuntu, the drive seems to show 99% "IO", which I believe is akin to the "100% Disk Usage" metric in the Windows Task Manager -> Performance tab? However, it also shows essentially 0 KB/s read/write, so I'm confused what the drive is actually doing if it's so busy yet not reading or writing anything.

When the drive has "rested" or hasn't been used for some time, and I benchmark the disk using Ubuntu's "Disks" app, the results look more or less fine, like this:



However, if I benchmark shortly after noticing the drive being sluggish, results are worse, like this (notice the results from 70% onwards):



Or like this:



I don't see anything particularly concerning in SMART:




To me, needing to wait 30 seconds to list a few files in a folder seems like unacceptably poor performance, and makes me think there's something wrong with the device?

Or is this expected behavior for the device, and I'm just expecting too much?

I never encountered such a performance issue before.

I would appreciate hearing other perspectives... Is this normal?
 
Last edited:

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
As I understand the benchmark graphs the problem(s) begin just after the 50% mark.

That external drive is not independently powered and relies on power solely via the USB cable - correct?

What SMART Data & Self-Tests specs (temperatures and attributes) do you see when the drive has been "rested"?

I am thinking that the drive is overheating.

Try raising the drive up off of the surface in some manner to allow more air flow under and around the drive.

Determine if the sluggishness continues. Compare test specs etc.
 
Sep 1, 2021
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Hello @Ralston18.

That external drive is not independently powered and relies on power solely via the USB cable - correct?
Yes, correct.

What SMART Data & Self-Tests specs (temperatures and attributes) do you see when the drive has been "rested"?
Here are the specs after plugging in the drive, after being unplugged for about 24 hours:




So about 18 degrees. I waited 20 minutes with the device plugged in but not using it, and the temperature didn't change.

A quick benchmark showed everything was working fine.

I am thinking that the drive is overheating.

Try raising the drive up off of the surface in some manner to allow more air flow under and around the drive.
I raised the drive up so that it's exposed to the air on all sides, and started copying a very large folder.

At 34 degrees, I noticed the sluggishness return:




To help me measure the amount of time the drive is unresponsive, I wrote a small bash function to measure the time it takes to list the files in the current folder.

Code:
function fn1 {
    BEFORE=$(date +%s) &&
    ls &&
    AFTER=$(date +%s) &&
    DIFF=`expr $AFTER - $BEFORE` &&
    echo "$(date +%Y)-$(date +%m)-$(date +%d) $(date +%H):$(date +%M):$(date +%S) Delay was ${DIFF} seconds" >> "/home/arladhod/Desktop/delays.txt"
}
I just manually run this fn1 command over and over, which sometimes catches these gigantic delays, and produces a text file that looks like this:

...
2021-09-02 16:12:07 Delay was 7 seconds
2021-09-02 16:12:16 Delay was 2 seconds
2021-09-02 16:12:25 Delay was 1 seconds
2021-09-02 16:21:18 Delay was 291 seconds
2021-09-02 16:21:25 Delay was 1 seconds
2021-09-02 16:21:33 Delay was 5 seconds
2021-09-02 16:22:06 Delay was 1 seconds
...
Immediately after that 291 second delay, I took another screenshot of the SMART specs:




Determine if the sluggishness continues. Compare test specs etc.
So yes, the sluggishness definitely continues even if I raise the drive off of the surface it usually rests on. Also, the issue seemed to start quite early (34 degrees), and the device really never seems hot, just mildly warm to the touch.

Does this sound like a faulty drive?
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
Just takes some specific component to be getting too hot and not the entire drive/enclosure.

Try raising the the drive higher, relocate/position the drive somewhere even cooler, or use a small fan to "add" cooling.

If you can continue to document that additional cooling (or any other measures at all for that matter) are needed to maintain drive performance then that certainly would make the case for a faulty drive.

And, just for the record, you do have the data on that drive backed up and proven recoverable and readable - correct?
 

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