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Hard drive missing space - can it be recovered?


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#1 jdavola

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:41 PM

Hi all,

I have a peculiar problem with my laptop hard drie. I am running Windows 7 64 bit, 4 GB RAM, Intel i5-480m. My hard drive is a Western Digital, 5400 RPM. Please bear with the length - I just want to be as detailed as possible and give you all the information I have.

Yesterday I had to download a large (~2 GB) file (an installer). I'm using the current version (16) of Firefox. The download completed, and when Firefox said "scanning for viruses" it began to stall. I waited probably an hour, but everything seemed hung up. Task Manager didn't show any odd process other than "msmpeng.exe", which I understand is part of Windows Defender (which is the AV I use). Since there was no CPU usage for a long time I forced Firefox to close and restarted the computer.

Upon restart, the file I downloaded was there, but I couldn't do anything with it. Couldn't delete it, move it, or even right-click it. More significantly, I noticed my hard drive space literally dropping in real time as I was refreshing. After probably a minute, it had dropped by about 9 GB. I monitored Task Manager during this but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. I simplu couldn't stop the strange disk usage increase. The file I downloaded still showed a size of 2 GB in explorer. If I tried to delete the file explorer would freeze, and I had to close and restart explorer via the Task Manager.

At this point I scheduled a chkdsk and restarted the computer. The results of this chkdsk are attached in the text file "CHKDSK-1". (acquired from Events Viewer)

After logging in, I still noticed I was missing about 9 GB from what should be there, not including the size of the downloaded file. I was able to confirm this by running "WinDirStat" and comparing the disk usage reported by that program to the disk usage from checking the drive properties in explorer. Because the file could still not be deleted/moved/right-clicked/etc., I decided to do a System Restore to a point from earlier in the day. The restore completed successfully, and when I logged in again the problematic file was gone. However, the ~9 GB were still missing from my free space.

Next I ran disk defragmenter. It was able to recover just over 2 GB, but again comparing WinDirStat's reported usage to that from the drive properties, I was still missing 6.8 GB. I scanned my system for recently modified/created files to see if there was anything peculiar. No trace, it seemed.

I then scheduled another chkdsk and restarted. The results of the second chkdsk are attached in the text file "CHKDSK-2".

The chkdsk reports bad sectors, but I'm not able to interpret all the results in detail. Please also note that I did delete some files on my computer I didn't need just to free up disk space between the two chkdsk operations. I ran another defrag or two since then, but no additional space was recovered.

The total capacity of my C:\ drive is about 284 GB. WinDirStat reports that 218.2 GB total are being used by all files. That would mean I should have a free space of ~65.8 GB. However, right clicking the drive in explorer shows a free space of only 58 GB, and a disk usage of 225 GB. Basically, 6.8 GB of space are being unaccounted for. I am not sure if those sectors on my disk are corrupt, lost, or something else. I have attached two images. The first shows the disparity between reported disk usage from WinDirStat and Explorer. The second shows the disk management utility confirming the full 284 GB of the C:\ drive are seemingly intact.

At some point during the download of the aforementioned problematic file, Microsoft Security Essentials scanned it, my system froze, and after being forced to restart I literally saw free disk space decreasing as I refreshed the explorer window.

Can this space be recovered?
I would like to avoid wiping my HD and reinstalling, so any advice or tips people have to diagnose and recover my HD would be fantastic! The computer is running fine with no issues. I'm simply missing 6.8 GB of space that should otherwise be there.

Thank you deeply for reading this long post. I appreciate the time and help!

p.s. - I replaced my name with "XXXXX" in the chkdsk logs.

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#2 Budapest

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:57 PM

I would download the "Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for Windows" software from the Western Digital website and run a full diagnostic check of the drive.

http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=612&sid=3&lang=en
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

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#3 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:03 AM

Hi, thanks for your reply.

By "full diagnostic check" do you mean the option that says "Extended Test"? There's also "Quick Test" (which you don't mean) and "Write Zeros".

Also, it appears the Extended Test may ask me to repair bad sectors if they are detected. Should I not do this just yet?

Thank you.

Edited by jdavola, 31 October 2012 - 12:59 AM.


#4 Budapest

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:16 AM

Yes run the extended test. I would not repair bad sectors at this stage.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#5 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 03:00 AM

Just a small update that the Extended Test is running right now. There have been a few sectors on which the scan stalled for as long as 15 min. Currently on 45428991 out of 625142447 after 1 hour 20 min, so it may take quite awhile. I'm trying to keep an eye on things. Estimated time to completion is 20.5 hours, which seems quite high.

When it finishes I'll post a log file if it's generated, along with other notes and observations I'm making.

(posting from a different PC, not using the affected PC at all)

Edited by jdavola, 31 October 2012 - 03:15 AM.


#6 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 03:29 AM

Test stopped after 1 hour 50 minutes with error "Too many bad sectors detected".

:(

I'm going to retry it and go to bed. Will see where it is in 6-7 hours.

Edited by jdavola, 31 October 2012 - 03:32 AM.


#7 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 11:20 AM

7.5 hours after starting the second test my computer was asleep. I logged in and the Extended Test was still running, stuck on one of the sectors it stalled on during the first run. There was an estimated time to complete of 104 hours. I canceled the test since it appeared it was having the same issues.

I ran a Quick Test and that completed fine in less than 2 minutes.

#8 hamluis

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:19 PM

Test results indicate that a new drive is in order.

Louis

#9 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 12:50 PM

So, I guess my understanding of the situation is that the bad sectors on my drive have been isolated so that they can't be used for storing/reading/writing data.

The drive is running fine, but those 6.8 GB seem like they are quarantined. I don't hear any strange noises from the drive. I understand that failure could happen at any point, though.

Are the bad sectors permanently damaged (e.g. hard/physical), or is it just specific to this particular install/image of the drive (e.g. soft/logical)? If I wipe the drive and format it, will that fix the issue and recover the lost storage capacity? I want to avoid a reinstall, but I unfortunately can't afford a new drive right now so I may not have a choice.

Are there other diagnostics, tests, or repairs you guys may recommend?

Thanks for the continued help.

Edited by jdavola, 31 October 2012 - 01:00 PM.


#10 hamluis

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:19 PM

Bad sectors, with data files on them...can possibly have the data moved from those sectors to another section of the hard drive. That is one of the functions which chkdsk /r tries to accomlish.

Once detected, bad sectors are "marked" as unuseable, Bad Sectors On Hard Drives - http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=1583&page=3 AND http://www.harddrive-repair.com/bad-sectors.html .

The key thing about bad sectors, IMO...is that such may be a sign of a continuously deteriorating hard drive. I can't say that it's necessarily so...because I have used drives with bad sectors for an extended period of time (after blocking out a specific section of the drive as "not to be used when formatting"...but I would not suggest that other users do what I did in that instance. I have multiple backups and multiple hard drives available...I can afford to experiment with situations that others may be unable to deal with if their Windows install becomes inaccessible.

Louis

#11 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:35 PM

In my case I didn't notice any performance issue with my HD before the issue with the downloaded file. I don't have reason to believe there is physical damage or wear to the HDD, but I can't be certain. Can such an issue I described in my OP lead to "hard" bad sectors? Or is this more of a "soft" issue where the logic in the current drive image has bad sectors?

Is wiping/formatting the drive the only way to recover these bad sectors? My understanding of chkdsk is that it identifies and closes off bad sectors, but other tools may be required to attempt recovery of those sectors. Or, based on the chkdsk files and scan results, do you think that this sector damage is permanent even if the drive is wiped?

I'm just trying to figure out my options, and see if there's any way to fix the drive's bad sectors. I would like to run any other diagnostic or repairs that people may suggest. I may try the Data Lifeguard Diagnostic again overnight, and make sure that my system can't go into standby if the hard drive stalls during the test. Maybe that would help to finish the test without interruption.

Thanks.

Edited by jdavola, 31 October 2012 - 02:49 PM.


#12 hamluis

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:15 PM

I've given you the best information and guesswork that I possess :).

I suggest you await input from other forum members.

Louis

#13 Budapest

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 05:37 PM

Generally if the Western Digital diagnostic software is showing bad sectors then these are not likely to be recoverable.

If I was in your situation I would replace the hard drive.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#14 AustrAlien

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 07:29 PM

I would like to run any other diagnostic or repairs that people may suggest

The hard drive needs to be replaced: That is fairly clear. However, if you are interested in learning more about the extent of the problem, you may wish to have a look at the S.M.A.R.T. data.

How to obtain hard drive S.M.A.R.T data on a Windows system and then paste the report into a forum post
  • Download the GSmartControl installer application:
    • Go to the GSmartControl - Downloads page.
    • Scroll part way down the page to where the current version available for download will be displayed.
      Posted Image
    • Click on the link to download the installer file to your computer.
      (There may be a mirror link there also which will enable you download the file if the main download link does not work for some reason.)
  • Double-click the downloaded application to run it and install GSmartControl on the computer.
    Note: Vista/Win7 users, right-click > Run as Administrator
  • When installation is complete, run GSmartControl:
    • Start GSmartControl from the Start > Programs menu.
  • When the interface has loaded and scanning for hard drives is complete, click on the hard drive icon to select the device.
  • Go to Device on the top menu > View Details, and a new Device Information window will open.
  • Click on the Attributes tab to display the S.M.A.R.T data values.
  • Near the bottom of the window, click on View Output and a new Smartctl Output window will open.
  • Right-click anywhere inside that window > Select All.
  • Again right-click in that selected area > Copy.
  • Now paste that in a reply to your topic.
    Note: Please enclose the pasted report in CODE tags so that the spacing/formatting is preserved (to make it easier for all to read).
    • Firstly, click on the "Insert code snippet" button Posted Image
      You will then see the "start" and "end" code tags (highlighted in dark blue/selected in the image) in the text box.
    • Click between the two tags to insert the cursor between the tags and then press <Ctrl+V> to paste the report there.
Reference: S.M.A.R.T.
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#15 jdavola

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 07:45 PM

Well that's unfortunate. :(

Do you mean that the sectors aren't recoverable in this install, or that even with a format/reinstall those sectors would still be damaged? I fear you mean the latter but just want to confirm so I understand.

I'll try the WDC tool again tonight after disabling standby, just to see if it can complete.

I appreciate the help. Right now I'm not solvent enough to buy a new drive, so it's a difficult situation for me. If there's any other repair utility I could safely run, I'd be happy to give it a try.




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