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Hard drive has bad sectors. Is it dying or crippled?


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#1 signofzeta

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 12:33 AM

First of all, I want to know if my hard drive is dying, or crippled.  I will only replace if my hard drive is dying.

 

Here is the situation here.

 

The hard drive is 5 years old and came with my laptop when I bought it 5 years ago.

 

The hard drive has bad sectors.

 

292 of them are reallocated.

 

141 of them are pending.

 

141 of them are uncorrectable.

 

 

I have been monitoring my hard drive using speccy and crystaldiskinfo, and those numbers haven't changed.

 

I want to know with facts only, if:

 

My hard drive is dying, that is, my hard drive will be guaranteed to fail in the future like it was a ticking timebomb?

 

or

 

is it crippled, as in, it won't fail any time soon, or won't fail in a long time, but doesn't work to full capacity, and has a tendency to blue screen?

 

Is it worthwhile to shell out $50 to $100 on a hard drive when the screen on the laptop flickers some of the time, the headphone jack doesn't work, and the right speaker sometimes doesn't work?

 

Is there an exact science to determine when a hard drive will finally fail?

 

Crystaldiskinfo says the HDD status is Caution, while Speccy says it is Warning.  I looked at all the S.M.A.R.T attributes and Speccy says they are all good, but crystal disk info says Caution with the reallocated, pending, and uncorrectable bad sectors.

 

Is having bad sectors a snowball effect?  If one is there, more will be guaranteed later?


Edited by signofzeta, 27 June 2014 - 12:33 AM.


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#2 ElfBane

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 04:00 AM

There is no way to determine when the HDD will fail.

Yes, it IS failing.

How valuable is you information? Do you make backups?

 

If you feel the lappy is serviceable for another 2-3 years, then replace the HDD.

If not, then put the money towards a new PC/laptop.



#3 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 07:45 AM

ElfBane has valid info, if you do not have any data on the drive that you need or care about, you can keep using the drive. I guarantee at some point all hard drives will fail completely. They have spinning moving mechanical parts. That said, I have a few old Seagate drives that are still working after 10-15 years...

 

It is tough to say why you have bad blocks, if the hard drive has ever taken a bump or fall while on (I have seen a 4 inch fall destroy a drive), the head/(s) could have slammed into the platter spinning at ~5400rpms, this will scratch the platter surface and cause bad blocks, it could also damage the head/(s).

 

I typically use MHDD to test hard drives, this tool can also re-map bad blocks and disable slow blocks. NEVER erase delay blocks on a drive if you are currently using it for OS or data storage unless you plan on reloading and have your data backed up!!!!!!!!! It can cause the OS or data to become corrupt and un-usable. I will post how to use MHDD to test the drive below. If you want the advanced features I can post those as well just ask for them.

 

As a heads up, the drive can fail at any time, running a test on a bad drive may speed up the process so use the test I post below at your own risk... Backup your data before running the test if you can not afford to lose it.


Edited by zingo156, 27 June 2014 - 08:25 AM.

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#4 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 07:56 AM

If a hard drive has a smart status warning or the drive is questionable this test may be of use NOTE this test does not work with AHCI or Raid sata operation. It must be done with IDE, ATA, or compatibility mode:

 

Before running this test it would be a good idea to backup any data that you cannot afford to lose. This test uses the hard drive at 100%. If the drive is failing or has problems it is possible for the drive to fail suddenly especially during heavy use as this test will do. It is unlikely but still I recommend backing files up to be safe. Here are the instructions to run the test:

 

The first step will be to burn MHDD to a disc as an image (cd preferably). MHDD Can be found here: http://hddguru.com/software/2005.10.02-MHDD/  Click the Last version of MHDD, CDROM iso-image download and burn this file directly to a disc.

 

TO CHANGE SATA OPERATION: (You may need to use your keyboard arrow keys and enter key if you can not click to change settings).

After burning the disc, restart the laptop and start tapping f2 or f1 or delete right away to get into the bios. There you should see System Configuration, expand that by clicking the + button (or using your arrow keys and enter key). In that list there should be something called Sata operation. (Sata Operation may also be by itself in that first screen list)

Click on sata operation and take note of the current setting to the right it will probably be set to AHCI it will need to be switched back to this after MHDD is done running. Select ATA, compatibility or ide mode and then click apply. Save and exit the bios, or if apply was the only option you can use Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart.

COMMON BOOT MENU/BIOS keys: https://support.fixmestick.com/hc/en-us/articles/201577043-How-to-get-to-your-Boot-Menu-or-your-BIOS-settings

 

Now with the burned disc in the drive after a restart, start tapping (F12 Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo), (F9 HP), or (Esc HP, Samsung, Sony) on the keyboard (or change your boot options to boot to cd/dvd first). This will bring up the boot options menu. Select cd/dvd/cd-rw drive and hit enter.

If this worked correctly and booted to mhdd you should see a screen that says Microsoft windows 98 startup menu. You can let the timer run out or just hit enter on option (2 . Start computer without SCSI support).

 

Now you should see a screen with numbers, most of these will not have any device listed behind them but one number should for example on my dell computer number 6 has WDC WD1600BEVT-75A23T0… and at the end a number in white which is the size of the drive.

Example: If your drive is a 500gb I would expect that number in white to be somewhere around 500,107,862,016 or close to. Find the correct drive to test then on the keyboard type the number in front of the drive (in my case it was 6) and then hit enter.

 

Now you should have a screen with MHDD> and a blinking cursor.

Now hit F4 on the keyboard 2 times and this will start scanning the hard drive.

You should be able to see the computer start scanning, each block represents 255 sectors (130560 bytes) on the hard drive. What we are looking for will show up on the right side of the screen.

There is a list on the right which shows numbers:

<3

<10

<50

<150ms

Etc…

 

Anything below the <150ms is a slow sector or a problem sector. Slow sectors <500 or >500 will slow down the computer. If there are a lot of these one after another (several 1000 or more) the drive should probably be replaced. Also if you have any at the end that were marked as UNC this means the drive has uncorrectable errors and the hard drive should probably be replaced.

Basically if you have any sectors that are below <150 (green) let me know and if possible the total number of them.

 

If all of the sectors were ok and fell within the range of:

<3

<10

<50

<150ms

Then the hard drive is ok, if there are only a few that are slow <500 or >500 the hard drive should be ok to use.

 

NOTE: that if there are many slow sectors one after another or you start having error after error the drive is in bad shape and I recommend ending the test. To end the test hit the Esc key.

 

After you are done testing you will need to go back into the bios by restarting the computer and tapping F2, F1, Delete (or whatever key gets you into bios). Go back to Sata Operation and change it back to the default which probably was AHCI.

Then restart and the computer should boot again.

(If you are getting a blue screen and the computer restarts go back into the bios and confirm that Sata Operation is set to what it was before changing it to IDE, ATA, or compatibility).


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#5 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 08:22 AM

To answer a few of your questions, having bad blocks does not mean the drive will start failing more suddenly. Bad blocks absolutely can and will cause BSOD. If windows trys to write to those blocks or read from those blocks you will generally get I/O errors and then a BSOD. I have had quite a few drives with bad blocks and slow sectors, I have re-mapped bad blocks and erased delays and those drives still work fine.

 

Some drives have failed suddenly that started to show bad blocks. It really depends on what is causing the bad blocks. A bump to the drive that results in the head hitting the platter may cause bad blocks in one area of the drive platter (a physical scratch to the platter). If the head did not get damaged, you can remap those bad blocks. Then the drive may work for years without problems.

 

If the issue is a head related problem which would cause bad blocks at random (the block is generally ok but it is an error while reading the block related to a bad head) This would be an example where the drive needs to be replaced, there is no way to repair a head with software tools.


Edited by zingo156, 27 June 2014 - 08:24 AM.

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#6 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 09:06 AM

One last thing I forgot to meniton, that post for the MHDD test is a canned speach I made a while back, it is general for unknown bad drives. You do not need to end the test when you see UNC errors one after another, I would expect to see at least 141 bad blocks since those are still pending. If you start getting more than that, it might indicate a problem and I would probably end the test.


Edited by zingo156, 27 June 2014 - 09:07 AM.

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#7 signofzeta

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 12:13 PM

I used a program called HD Tune and performed an error scan.  Irt says that 0.1% of the blocks were damaged, that is, 2 blocks of a 50x50 grid shown up as error red, and the rest were error free green, so I don't know what to believe.

 

I normally use this for internet access, and playing older games, especially connecting it via lan to my newer laptop.  I do want to keep this laptop functional though, at least for a few more years.



#8 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 12:32 PM

If everything still seems to work fine, I would suggest you keep your important data backed up frequently (on a different source such as external hard drive or flash drive) and then continue to use it.


Edited by zingo156, 27 June 2014 - 12:32 PM.

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#9 signofzeta

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 02:39 PM

Do you have any experience in restoring the backed up files onto a new hard drive?  I never had to do any restoring so I don't really know how this works.

 

First, my windows vista laptop has Windows vista pre-installed.  It also comes with some sort of recovery disc.  If my hard drive dies, then how do I get a copy of windows vista onto my new hard drive without having to buy a new copy of windows?

 

I have a Seagate external drive, which comes with a backup program, and I think Windows Vista has a built in backup program.  How do these programs work?  Exactly what do they back up?  Do they backup everything, including the OS and system settings?

 

I tried using the seagate backup tool that came with my external, and tried to do a backup a few months ago, and the backup failed, so I don't know if it is too late or not.  I don't really mind if I get a clean install, so long as I am able to boot up windows vista on a different hard drive, as if it was a new computer, when this current one dies.

 

I also want to be prepared with my windows 8 laptop as well.  I created a USB recovery drive already, but I read that it is only useful with the same hard drive that it came with, so using it to restore it to a new hard drive when that one dies is pretty much useless.  So any ideas on how to boot windows 8 on a different hard drive, when the first one finally dies?


Edited by signofzeta, 27 June 2014 - 02:44 PM.


#10 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 02:54 PM

Do you have any experience in restoring the backed up files onto a new hard drive?  I never had to do any restoring so I don't really know how this works.

I generally backup the entire hard drive to an external drive or server etc (your external seagate drive will work fine), (Do not backup to a hard drive that you are going to load the os on), you may have to take permission of all of the users on the computer if you have more than one user on the computer (in the users directory) to copy all of the data from there. After a reload, you copy the files back to the computer and move them to the appropriate directories.

 

First, my windows vista laptop has Windows vista pre-installed.  It also comes with some sort of recovery disc.  If my hard drive dies, then how do I get a copy of windows vista onto my new hard drive without having to buy a new copy of windows?

 

I have a Seagate external drive, which comes with a backup program, and I think Windows Vista has a built in backup program.  How do these programs work?  Do they backup everything, including the OS and system settings?

 

I tried using the seagate backup tool that came with my external, and tried to do a backup a few months ago, and the backup failed, so I don't know if it is too late or not.  I don't really mind if I get a clean install, so long as I am able to boot up windows vista on a different hard drive, as if it was a new computer, when this current one dies.

You would install windows vista from the recovery disc assuming it contains the operating system. In some cases you may have to order a new disc from the manufacturer. There should be a windows vista product key on the bottom of the laptop. If this is worn off you may not be able to activate windows. Most manufacturer restore discs come pre-activated so your restore disc would be the best bet if your key is worn off.

 

I do not have any experience using the seagate backup tools. To my knowledge there is no way to backup windows settings outside of doing a direct clone/image of a hard drive.

 

In your situation because the drive is still usable, cloning/imaging the drive may be the best option. Unfortunately this may require having a way to connect the new hard drive to the current computer. You could buy a new hard drive and a usb to sata hard drive adapter. USB will be fairly slow to clone. Also sometimes clones fail especially when bad blocks are involved. If it does fail, you would need to load windows vista from your recovery disc and you would have to re-install all of your software.

 

If you chose to clone the drive to a new one, you need to buy a hard drive that is as large or larger than your current hard drive in (GB) example if you currently have a 120GB drive to clone this you would need to buy another at least 120GB hard drive or bigger.

 

I use clonezilla but you must be careful when cloning, if you get the drive letters mixed up you could clone a blank drive over your current OS drive and you would potentially lose everything.

 

You can learn about clonezilla here: http://clonezilla.org/ I use the clonezilla live disc or run it from a linux distro such as parted magic.

 

If you do not have much experience with copying and pasting files, I recommend doing a bit of research. If you do not feel comfortable doing any of this, you could call a local shop and see how much they would want for the service.

 

You could also try to use the windows backup image option: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/back-up-programs-system-settings-files#1TC=windows-7

 

I have not done much with imaging. If you go the image route, you may be able to make the backup image directly onto the seagate external hard drive and then install the new hard drive and restore the image to the new drive from the seagate external.


Edited by zingo156, 27 June 2014 - 03:06 PM.

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#11 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 03:01 PM

Sorry, I edited the above post a few times, read through it again.


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#12 signofzeta

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 03:08 PM

It is not really the end of the world for me if I have to reinstall everything and update everything again, so long as I am able to install vista on the new HDD.  Any ideas on how that is done when my vista was preinstalled on my laptop?

 

I also tried to backup using vista's backup and restore, but unfortunately, it doesn't backup the files needed to run the OS, or any program files, which makes it kind of useless.

 

At this point, I mainly use this computer to play games, and the games are made prior to 2005 anyway, with the newest game being Quake 4.  I mostly play Doom, Doom 2, Quake, and Quake 2 on this computer, as well as the many You Don't Know Jack titles, which I can just copy paste from my external hard drive.  I pretty much have some sort of copy of some important stuff that was on this dying hard drive on my external hard drive.  I personally deleted all the important files, and pretty much if this HDD dies, I don't lose much.  The only thing I want to salvage is for me to be able to install Vista on a new hard drive when this one fails.

 

As I said before, I have a windows 8 laptop, but it never came with a recovery DVD, but everything is in a recovery partition.  If the same fate happens to that laptop, with the HDD dying and all, how do I reinstall Windows 8 on a new HDD?



#13 zingo156

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 03:22 PM

For the vista computer, the restore disc may contain the operating system. I do know for certain without seeing the disc. If the recovery disc does contain the os, the exact steps for replacing the drive and loading vista would be:

 

1. Replace the hard drive.

2. Power on the computer and put the recovery disc into the computer, boot to this disc. You may have to restart and go into your bios using F1, F2, or delete (depending on make and model), then change the boot priority to boot from the cd/dvd drive first.

3. When the computer boots from the disc, it should guide you through the recovery process and install the operating system. It may restart several times. Eventually you will have windows vista installed and get to the setup screen. It will ask you to re-enter your user name the time and location etc. Just like when it was new out of the box.

4. In some cases recovery discs do not come with drivers, if this is the case, you will need to download the drivers from the manufacturers website and install them.

 

For the windows 8 computer, the steps would be the same but if the hard drive failed, you would need to get a restore disc from the company that manufactured the computer. In my experience the restore discs can be ordered for around $20 or in some cases they are free, it seems to vary depending on the brand (manufacturer) of the computer.


Edited by zingo156, 27 June 2014 - 03:31 PM.

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#14 signofzeta

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 03:28 PM

Clonezilla seems a little complicated to me.

 

As for my windows 8 laptop, I create a recovery drive on my USB, but I read that you need some EFI partition, that already came with my hard drive, to be able to recover WIndows 8, meaning that recovering Windows 8 on a new HDD is useless.  I don't really understand how all of this works.

 

I am completely unsure if the recovery DVD or recovery partition works on a HDD different from the one that came with the laptop.  Considering that the HDD from my vista laptop is dying, I just don't know how to reinstall Vista on a new HDD without having to buy a new copy.



#15 signofzeta

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Posted 27 June 2014 - 03:30 PM

For the vista computer, the restore disc may contain the operating system. I do know for certain without seeing the disc. If the recovery disc does contain the os, the exact steps for replacing the drive and loading vista would be:

 

1. Replace the hard drive.

2. Power on the computer and put the recovery disc into the computer, boot to this disc. You may have to restart and go into your bios using F1, F2, or delete (depending on make and model), then change the boot priority to boot from the cd/dvd drive first.

3. When the computer boots from the disc, it should guide you through the recovery process and install the operating system. It may restart several times. Eventually you will have windows vista installed and get to the setup screen. It will ask you to re-enter your user name the time and location etc. Just like when it was new out of the box.

 

For the windows 8 computer, the steps would be the same but if the hard drive failed, you would need to get a restore disc from the company that manufactured the computer. In my experience the restore discs can be ordered for around $20 or in some cases they are free, it seems to vary depending on the brand (manufacturer) of the computer.

 

I seem to have posted just as you posted yours.  So do you know any brands that give their restore discs for free?  Both my laptops are from Asus.  Also what about the recovery partition?  If I made a recovery drive, isn't that technically the same thing as the Recovery DVD that was supposed to come with older laptops?

 

I just lost one block.  Rather than 141, the pending and the uncorrectable bad sector count is now 142.  That was after I did the error scan using the HD Tune program.


Edited by signofzeta, 27 June 2014 - 03:32 PM.





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