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USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

FAST '08 Abstract

Pp. 223238 of the Proceedings

Awarded Best Student Paper!

An Analysis of Data Corruption in the Storage Stack

Lakshmi N. Bairavasundaram, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Garth Goodson, Network Appliance Inc.; Bianca Schroeder, University of Toronto; Andrea C. Arpaci-Dusseau and Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau, University of Wisconsin, Madison


An important threat to reliable storage of data is silent data corruption. In order to develop suitable protection mechanisms against data corruption, it is essential to understand its characteristics. In this paper, we present the first large-scale study of data corruption. We analyze corruption instances recorded in production storage systems containing a total of $1.53$ million disk drives, over a period of $41$ months. We study three classes of corruption: checksum mismatches, identity discrepancies, and parity inconsistencies. We focus on checksum mismatches since they occur the most.

We find more than 400,000 instances of checksum mismatches over the 41-month period. We find many interesting trends among these instances including: (i) nearline disks (and their adapters) develop checksum mismatches an order of magnitude more often than enterprise class disk drives, (ii) checksum mismatches within the same disk are not independent events and they show high spatial and temporal locality, and (iii) checksum mismatches across different disks in the same storage system are not independent. We use our observations to derive lessons for corruption-proof system design.

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Last changed: 7 May 2008 mn