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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
walking drives
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An occasional failure mode of magnetic-disk drives back in the
days when they were huge, clunky washing machines. Those
old dinosaur parts carried terrific angular momentum; the
combination of a misaligned spindle or worn bearings and
stick-slip interactions with the floor could cause them to
"walk" across a room, lurching alternate corners forward a
couple of millimeters at a time. There is a legend about a
drive that walked over to the only door to the computer room
and jammed it shut; the staff had to cut a hole in the wall in
order to get at it! Walking could also be induced by certain
patterns of drive access (a fast seek across the whole width
of the disk, followed by a slow seek in the other direction).
Some bands of old-time hackers figured out how to induce
disk-accessing patterns that would do this to particular drive
models and held disk-drive races.