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I have a 1Gig disk that's about 3 years old. The other day it went south, with OSX telling me that it could not repair it and leaving it in read only mode. I was able to salvage everything on it.

Now I reformatted it and it is happy again. Or is it?

Is there a way that I can stress test it or otherwise assure that it is once again reliable or should I just throw it out?

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I would put the hard drive in your machine, burn a bootable live Ubuntu Linux CD, and then boot from the CD and run the Disk Utility program that comes with Ubuntu. This will run the internal SMART self-tests which are a lot more thorough than what you get from Mac OS' Disk Utility. Here's an excellent page explaining how.

I'd be wary of a drive that seemed to fail once and then was reported OK by OS X Disk Utility. What you want to look for is failed reads and/or writes, which indicate the disk is failing physically. With what you know so far, you can't distinguish a hardware problem from a software one (i.e. the filesystem may have been corrupted and then repaired without any low-level failure on the disk, or a low-level failure may have precipitated filesystem problems). The SMART status as reported by Linux will give you the straight dope.

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I made a CD. But, how do I boot the mac with that CD? That I can't figure out yet. –  pitosalas Jun 6 '13 at 19:52
    
Hold down Option while turning on the machine and you'll get a menu where you can pick what device to boot from. –  dodgethesteamroller Jun 6 '13 at 20:41
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Actually that's what I tried and it didn't work. Just showed me the bootable Mac hard disks. Booting up holding down the "c" key did the trick though. –  pitosalas Jun 7 '13 at 0:40
    
Holding option works for OSX system disks. –  geoO Jun 10 '13 at 18:15
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