Don’t forget: This advice is posted with my Standard Disclaimer. Please read that before proceeding.
01. If the drive is not a new sealed retail drive, check SMART values are okay before testing. (smartctl -a /dev/sdX), save to compare later.
02. Run SMART short test (smartctl -t short /dev/sdX)
03. Run SMART conveyance test (if supported) smartctl -t conveyance /dev/sdX
04. Some drives will only update some SMART attributes if offline data collection is enabled. To make sure, turn offline testing every 4 hours with smartctl -o on and then start an offline test (smartctl -t offline /dev/sdX)
05. Verify drive passed all these tests (smartctl -l xselftest,selftest /dev/sdX). Create a second log file for comparison later.
06. Zero the drive with dd (dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX bs=4M status=progress).
[!] Keep an eye on the drive temperature (if supported) with smartctl -l scttemp the logged historical data will vary between manufacturers. [/!]
07. After ZEROing the drive, it will have reallocated any bad sectors from the factory. Compare the SMART values to the ones you took at the beginning, paying close attention to Pending and/or Reallocated Sectors.
08. Check the drive’s error log (smartctl -l xerror,error /dev/sdX) to see if there are any reports of non-fatal errors which haven’t resulted in a bad sector.
09. Next comes a full write test. You can either use the long test, using badblocks which will perform 4 full read and 4 full write tests. (badblocks -wvsb 4096 /dev/sdX) This can take tens of hours. If you are in a hurry, you can also use a single pass test. (nwipe?)
10. After completion again check the SMART values (smartctl -a /dev/sdX) and compare them to the original readings.
[!] Some drives also support extended device statistics (smartctl -l devstat /dev/sdX) which can show you some non-standard stuff. [/!]
11. If the drive passes these tests without error it will usually be a good drive. The surface has been written and read from several times to ensure there’s no major problems.
12. If you want to stress test the drive mechanism (actuator/heads) you can use fio to perform small reads/writes at random locations across the entire disk surface. Be sure to keep an eye on the temperatures while doing this. If the drive isn’t properly cooled you might run into problems. It is probably reasonable to run this test for around two or three hours.