The hard disk drive (HDD) is a critical component of any computer system. The performance of a computer system largely depends on the performance and health of its HDD. This paper investigates degradation signatures for the estimation of remaining useful life and the assessment of health of a HDD. Most of the mechanical faults in a HDD results in head-disk collision or friction. As a HDD ages, it may experience gradual damage to the head and scratches on the disk. One can expect that changes in the condition of head and disk may result in comparable changes in the characteristics of HDD vibration and acoustic emission signals. Based on this premise, this research conducted experiments on HDDs subject to accelerated deterioration. HDDs are monitored through vibration and acoustic emission sensors. Extracting features from these sensor signals, HDD degradation signatures are created. The results indicate that though degradation signatures exhibit a gradual trend with HDD aging, accurate assessment remaining useful life and health are not possible using these degradation signatures. Poor signal to noise ratio is the main impediment in this approach. The conclusion is that the best vibration and acoustic sensors available for this application are neither sensitive nor selective enough to capture the changes in the head and the disk of an aging HDD.

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