The historical problem to which people are referring is drives lying. There is a command in the ATA specification, FLUSH CACHE, documented as not completing until all data stored in drive caches is written to the disk. Back before ATX power supplies, many desktop drives completed the FLUSH CACHE command as soon as it came in, and then wrote the data from the cache to the platters as if no FLUSH CACHE command had been received, to improve benchmark results; it was sufficiently common a problem that Microsoft issued a hotfix for Windows 98SE and Windows ME that simply put in a two second delay before powering off the computer.
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