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Plug: Lenovo service still rocks

I needed to buy a new laptop for work a few months back, and after a little agonizing between the MacBook Pro and a Thinkpad T61p, I plumped for the latter. As I noted at the time, one of the major selling points was the quality of IBM/Lenovo’s after-sales warranty service, compared to the atrocious stories I’d heard about AppleCare in Europe. I was, however, taking a leap of faith — I had used IBM service to great effect in the US, but had never actually tried it out in Ireland.

Sadly, I had to put this to the test today, after the hard disk started producing these warnings:

/var/log/messages:Feb  7 11:21:13 wall kernel: 
[2075890.116000] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 116189461
/var/log/messages:Feb  7 11:21:38 wall kernel: 
[2075914.824000] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 116189460
/var/log/messages:Feb  7 11:24:18 wall kernel: 
[2076075.072000] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 116189462
/var/log/messages:Feb  7 11:25:05 wall kernel: 
[2076121.932000] end_request: I/O error, dev sda, sector 116189463

It’s a brand new machine, and a Hitachi TravelStar 7K100 drive, with a good reputation for reliability — but these things do happen. :(

Interestingly, I thought this was a case of the Bathtub curve in action — but this comprehensive CMU study of hard drive reliability notes that the ‘infant mortality’ concept doesn’t seem to apply to current hard-drive technology:

Replacement rates [of hard drives in a cluster] are rising significantly over the years, even during early years in the lifecycle. Replacement rates in HPC1 nearly double from year 1 to 2, or from year 2 to 3. This ob- servation suggests that wear-out may start much earlier than expected, leading to steadily increasing replacement rates during most of a system’s useful life. This is an in- teresting observation because it does not agree with the common assumption that after the first year of operation, failure rates reach a steady state for a few years, forming the “bottom of the bathtub”.

Anyway, I digress.

I ran the BIOS hard disk self-test, got the expected failure, then rang up Lenovo’s International Warranty line for Ireland. I got through immediately to a helpful guy in India, and gave him my details and the BIOS error message; he had no tricky questions, no guff about me using Linux rather than Windows, and there were no attempts to sting me for shipping.

There’s now a replacement HD (and a set of spare recovery disks, bonus!) winging their way via 2-day shipping, expected on Tuesday; I’m to hand over the broken HD to the courier once it arrives. Fantastic stuff!

Assuming the courier doesn’t screw up, this is yet another major win for IBM/Lenovo support, and I feel vindicated. ;)

Update: the HD arrived this morning at 10am — a day early. Very impressive!