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Bad Sectors on Hard Drive

Posted on 2002-07-24
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Last Modified: 2013-12-28
I have a machine with Win98. The hard seems to have generated bad sectors. Each time I start the machine it scans the disk trying to fix the problem but hangs/freezes during the scandisk. I can bypass this by cancelling scandisk.

But is there a lasting solution to this?
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Question by:mafiq
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by:Kirgal
ID: 7176442
Hi Mafig,

The problem is that once you have bad sectors, you will get more and more. Normally, there is only one solution.
Get a new harddisk.
By canceling the scandisk, you leave errors on your HDD.
What you should do instead is to run a scandisk with surface scan (better to start in dos for this. F8 at startup and then type scandisk /all /autofix /surface )
and then it will fix the errors on the harddisk and mark them as unsusable.
But this is only a temporary solution.
The final solution is to get a new harddisk.

Kirgal
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by:rid
ID: 7176454
The solution may, unfortunately, involve getting a new hard drive.
1) back up all things you want to keep. NOW is your only chance, probably.
2) Find out the make of your hard drive and get a diagnostic program. They are ususally found on manufacturer's web site. Run the program.
3) After BACKING UP, you may try to zero-fill the drive, repartition and format, and then re-install your operating system.

Bad sectors and stalling scandisk constitute bad news. At least a format and new install of O/S is often required.

I assume you have done a virus scan, just in case...

Regards
/RID
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by:mafiq
ID: 7176472
thanks

will try the remedy in a moment!
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by:jpanderson
ID: 7177470
There is a program called spinrite that can sometimes restore a hard drive.  Its can be found at www.grc.com but the site is down at the moment.  Try it in a couple of hours or the next day...I'm sure they are just experiencing some tech problems.
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by:pleasenospam
ID: 7177739
I had a hard drive rebuilt once, when drives were more expensive.  That wouldn't
be cost-effective now.
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by:HJohnson
ID: 7178037
This is definately a hard drive problem - I had the exact same thing happen with a new drive (< 3 months old) - fortunately, it was covered under warranty.
Get a new HD.
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by:richardwilkins
ID: 7178987
The guys are right -- the hard disk is going.  Recommend that you copy it to a new one first, and Ghost (free from Norton) is very good.  Don't even start the drive any more.  If you need more explict instructions, please ask.  Bet you are using it now.

Hard drive manufacturers have utilities that can examine the drive, fix it better than scandisk, or tell you that it is beyond repair.  You can also determine its age and whether it is in warranty (usually 3 years).

Rich
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by:CyberWizard
ID: 7183341
once heard something silly, don't know if it works and I'd definetely back everything up before even attempting to do this and don't be surprised if the disk is lost after this...

what I heard was: if you have gotten a drive which has bad sectors, you can put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and when you take it out the bad sectors are gone.

use this tip at your own risk off course.


but you say that you have bad sectors but scandisk won't run. If that's the case how do you know the sectors are bad?

if it hangs in a surface scan it probably is the case, but scandisk after a system crash will not scan the surface.

try scanning in windows or using norton system doctor.

also go to your internet explorer and delete all temporary files, also go to windows\temp and delete all files, this is because dos scandisk can not scan long directory paths which are usually used by internet explorer temp dirs.

regards,

CyberWizard
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by:HJohnson
ID: 7184160
The freezer thing is really only for a "last ditch" effort to get a hard drive to work temporarily in order to get access to critical data.  Rarely works anyway.

(I hear 60gb drives are going cheap!  heh heh)


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by:pleasenospam
ID: 7184244
While you still have access to your computer, there are two things you should do:

1. Backup critical files and with an image program if possible;
2. Print any help that you can find from the computer manufacturer describing HOW
to get at your computer's hard drive in order to replace it.  That is, if you don't
already have a printed manual with this information.  Also, print out the specifications
for your computer, including those for your hard drive, so that you can get the correct
replacement.
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Expert Comment

by:asifsomi
ID: 7205745
when a message is appear for scan disk at start up. dont cancel it. once all bad sectors are fix you not receive such message again.
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by:rid
ID: 7205831
asifsomi;
The Q states that the disk gets scanned:
"Each time I start the machine it scans the disk trying to fix the problem but hangs/freezes during the scandisk."
So scandisk will not complete... Cancel is only way to continue, obviously.

Also, please read the tips on "Comments and Answers". The link is just above the comments text box.

Feedback from the author would be nice, too...

Regards
/RID
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by:CyberWizard
ID: 7207088
come on asifsomi, how can you lock a question that is set to only 25 points, that's pretty greedy...

and mafiq, can you get some feedback on this?
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by:jbfstplk
ID: 7207290
I bet the drive went south -- they really do.  So, open her up , read the name of the manufacturer (model and serial no. if you want to) post and we'll tell you in baby talk what to do.
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by:harrlow
ID: 7208606
Are you sure scandisk hangs?

When bad sectors is detected, scandisk has to shift the data in those sectors to other parts of the hard disk before marking the sector as bad. This can take time as it would often been hard to read those sectors. (When there are errors reading the sectors, the harddisk tries again for a few times). If the harddisk is highly fragmented, scandisk can take time trying to find the next available space to shift those data to. If the new free space found is also bad, scandisk tries to write to those "new" sectors a few times unsuccessfully before having to find the next available space again. So, the process can be very time consuming and the computer will appear to have hung.

I would suggest you allow scandisk to run. It may not have hung, it could just be taking a long time. Anyway, it's better to run in dos.

Bad sectors are often physical defects on the hard disks and they gradually grow from the first bad sector. Many reasons for this, could be rust or dirt sometimes which will gradually spread though this is more common in older harddisks. Or, you somehow shook your harddisk or computer hard, and the drive head went plunging into the disk. For physical defects, it's best you get a new hard disk fast and transfer your data over because the problem is likely to get worse. Hard disks are quite cheap nowadays.

Sometimes, harddisk structure errors is wrongly reported as bad sectors. In which case, a repartition or reformat is necessary. Fdisk and reformatting will cause loss of data, so you may want to try partition magic, which you can find in downlaod.com

Finally, there are viruses that will trick you and the system into thinking that there are bad sectors when there aren't. You may want to scan the harddisk with an antivirus on a clean bootable floppy disk. Booting from your harddisk in such a situation wouldn't do the job.
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by:harrlow
ID: 7208607
The purpose of marking sectors as bad is to prevent those sectors from being used to store data.
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by:Kirgal
ID: 7208628
Hey, it is nice that everyone explains more and more, but just says the same thing for an author that apparently doesn't read this anymore.
Because if he did he would normally already react to this.
Anyway. One thing. Leave your fingers away from the freezer thing. It is totally stupid to put a HDD in a freezer.
The bad sectors can't dissapear like this!
It is like saying my car has a dent. I will put it in a freezer to fix the dent, because bad sectors are normally dents or betters tinny ticks which damaged a part of the disk itself.

Anyway, like I said, I don't think the author still reads this.
If you do, then please accept the answer or rejected or do anything, because I guess we talked long enough about this.

Thanks
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by:richardwilkins
ID: 7223772
Good comments.  Today I had a Quantum Fireball that was failing -- copied it to a new WD with Norton's Ghost, and gave it back to the customer, working.  The Maxtor diagnostic program, powermax.exe, when I ran it on the Quantum said that the drive was damaged and was a candidate for warranty replacement, except that when I checked the warranty, it was out of warranty.  What the heck -- rather than throw it in the trash, I did a low-level format which paused a few times (I guess), but finished.  The diagnostic found no damaged sectors this time.  I then loaded Win2K and ran scandisk.  No bad sectors or other problems were found!  I don't think I'll sell this drive to anyone, but I could give it away to some brave soul.
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by:Computer101
ID: 7375074
For reasons stated below, proposed answer rejected.

Computer101
E-E Admin

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by:Computer101
ID: 7376260
Hello all,
I am Computer101 from Experts-Exchange and also an expert within this topic area. This uestion has been open a long time.  What I am going to do is allow feedback from the questioner and xperts.  If it is not resolved, I will delete or accept an answer based on the info I have been given, Experts, feel free to offer input.  I will monitor these questions for a period of 5-7 days and come back and evaluate.  I will have another moderator (who is also an expert in this topic area) look at the question also to ensure we do the right thing for this question.

Thank you
Computer101
E-E Admin
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ID: 7757330
Question placed in PAQ

Computer101
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by:jbfstplk
ID: 7788206
Most, if not all manufacturers have diagnostic tools that can tell if a HD is defective.  Also, they can low-level format the drive, which often fixes or marks as bad those sectors which are not performing.  Also, I find that scandisk will crash when there are "bad sectors at the end of the drive".  This occurs when the cluster size is too small (Fat32) and if set to 8K or 16k, etc., the problem goes away.  Too bad this guy gave up.

Joe
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by:bullet_yap
ID: 8266987
first backup your hd, then perform low level format using disk manager, sometimes win98 misreported bad sectors, then fdisk your hard partition your hard disk :
    partition 1 : for system files about 20% of the total  size of the disk.
    partition 2 : for data and application files.

then format c: and install win98 second edition.

this will prolong usage of your hd while your saving to buy new ones.
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Expert Comment

by:Airwreck1
ID: 8763483
After Reading all you guys pontificating.. It seems that every body thinks scandisk will solve the problem... but then comes along a problem that after 2 days of running scandisk or Norton Disk Doctor.. the Bad sectors are not marked
or dwells Forever on one area and slowly marks the sector bad.. No where can I find a way to manually mark a sector bad.. I know I need to replace my hard drive and I will do that next month.. when I travel to the US.. but until that time I would like to manually mark sectors bad to stop using them
and when you ahve a drive that is partioned it is not the simple answer of low level formatting will solve the problem.. re formatted the partion with a /U /C paramter and then ran a surface scan again.. and sure enough it hangs at the same spot...
Does any one have a idea as how to manually mark the sector bad???? Norton Disk doctor 7.0 fro DOS and Win 3.11 had the ability to do that but I guess they thought we all are dopes and don't need that tool any more...

I did get a chuckle out of the freezer thing...what a hoot .. for the person who thinks that can't work.  must have never seen hail damage to a car before.. sure freezing the car won't help the small dents go away..but if you cook the car in the sun durring the summer... some of the dings will pop out..
Know this works cuz it fixed some of the hail damage to my car... GRIN... so who knows the Freezer just might work...
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by:rid
ID: 8764334
New login name, or just a dangling comment?

If you had read all the comments thoroughly, you would have noticed that not all comments suggest that scandisk would solve the problem.

The only way I have ever succeeded in removing/disabling/hiding bad sectors is through a zero-fill. This WILL remove all partitioning info on the
drive and you'd have to re-partition and begin from scratch with format etc. You cannot zero-fill a logical drive - the entire disk will be wiped. If the
author had given info about drive logical layout, other ideas might have come up.

The ONLY way to do something about this is to do a backup and then try to work on the drive with some suitable tool.

The freezer thing works in some instances when there is a mechanical problem (seizure, misalignment) and is known to be useful as a last resort. I would
not have thought about it in this case.

/RID
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Expert Comment

by:Airwreck1
ID: 8771306
Hi RID,

Thanks for getting back... And yes you are right I should have said that it is a 30 gig HD partitoned in to 6 seperate logical drives... and like I said I am due to replace this HD

I did read the all the comments thoroughly.. and saw that ScanDisk wouldn't always solve the problem.. I was just hoping that some one might have neglected mentioning some tool to manually mark sectors bad...Alas I guess not

But I will follow up with one question... With all this talk about backing Up Data.. is there something I am missing... Everybody seems to imply that 20 or 30 gigs is just a piece of cake to back up.. and even with a CDRW that would take about 30 Cd's..
IS it that I live in a third world country in the Caribbean that some other method hasn't filtered down to us po'folk's???

As for the freezer.. I was just commenting.. never thought it would address this problem...
Thanks Again....
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by:rid
ID: 8771405
I personally think that 30 GB of data is a tremendous amount of data. However, it must be in the user's interest to create a system by which important stuff can
be safely stored in a copy, should the original file(s) disappear. Irrespective of where you live... Since hardware failure is just a question of "when", not "if", this
applies at all times.

For such large amounts of data, a tape device may be the best solution. These may be prohibitively expensive. I don't use that sysem myself. Presently I use
a system where all important files exist on the "workstation" and on a "file server" (an oldish box with a couple of hard drives). At some points I burn all files that
haven't been changed for  a few months to a CD (and remove them from the server).

Of course, if you deal with music and movie files, you may have problems anyway with file sizes. If you have  a storage problem, you may have to do some
thinking about what is the really important stuff...

Hard drives aren't too expensive nowadays. You could get 2, and use one as a backup medium. It si not very probable that both will die at the same time.

/RID
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by:harrlow
ID: 8772406
Diskedit.exe can be used to manually mark sectors as bad. It is still provided in Norton systemworks 2003.

It's located in c:\program files\norton systemworks\norton utilities, unless you installed your norton systemworks in a different location.
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by:jbfstplk
ID: 8817195
Hey -- this question is 11 months old.  I never get that much info on my questions.  Can we keep it going until 7-24-03?  That might be a record, huh, Computer 101?   Anyway, backing up a drive could never be so easy today.   I bought a 40 Gb drive the other day for $63.  Two 120 s were about $110 each.  Ghost from Norton is still free and I own PQMagic 8.0 that is dynamite.  But if the manufacturer's disk checking utility tells you that it is toast, then believe it.  As noted above, some can be Zeroed and recovered, but my expert recovery guy (who is very wealthy) says, every hard disk will fail some day.  End of story.
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