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Format fails due to bad sectors

Posted on 2003-02-24
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I'm trying to repair an old PC for a friend.  The problem is a few bad sectors on the hard drive that messed up the Windows system directory.

I started with a Win95 startup disk and tried to run Win95 setup from the CD. However, setup tries to run Scandisk on the C: drive and this hung (I let it run for hours an dhours in case it was trying to copy data elsewhere, I also tried a defrag of the disk first, Scandisk still hangs).

I tired to delete the directory on which Scandisk was hanging but I can't seem to do this, even though it is empty.

So, I gave up and repartitioned the disk.  Now I need to format the disk before reinstalling the O/S but the format is terminating due to the bad sectors.

Format tries to recover sector 17 and gives up after a few hours, saying "Format Terminated".

I know the only real solution here is to buy a new HD (or a new PC) but I'd like to help this friend out as she has cooked me a few nice meals while I've been trying to fix this problem :)

Is there a way to repartition and format the disk so that it avoids the bad sectors and doesn't try to recover them?

Thanks,

Kev



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Question by:kevincherubini
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28 Comments
 
LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:drcspy
ID: 8011919
you would need a program called 'spinrite' from www.grc.com but it'd probably cost more than a second hand drive.....almost certainly lol....and even then you must be aware that bad sectors are a sign of a failing drive.....go to a used puter shop and get another drive it'll be the cheapest option...
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:ShadowWarrior111
ID: 8013241
Can you run scandisk on the hdd? If can, try to run through scan and it will mark the bad sector as bad. Btw, you can also try to use this command to format -> format /c .
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by:ShadowWarrior111
ID: 8013259
Sorry, the command should be format c: /c .
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:PublicFatality
ID: 8013285
see if you can dig up an old program called maxlff, its a low level formating tool.  Low level the hard drive and then recreate your partition.  At this point do a format c: /c /u.  This checks bad sectors and does an unconditional format.  If all works run scandisk /auto /surface and that that run, you may be able to get the drive back into working ordr like that--BUT its probably not worth the 10+ hours invested
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LVL 17

Accepted Solution

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rayt333 earned 300 total points
ID: 8013520
What is the size of the HD? you can pick up older HD's for almost nothing at a computer show or on Ebay. That would make her happy and would be worth the cost in my opinion.
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:drcspy
ID: 8013803
<.......agrees with rayt333 and again I suggest a cheap new or second hand drive (wiht no bad sectors :-) ) is the best/simplest/easiest answer
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Expert Comment

by:richardlee
ID: 8014675
Hi Kevin

If you still want to recycle the disk, you can try to look for this utility AEFDISK (check through google.com).  This is an enhanced FDISK utility.

You will have to re-install the system again, wiping off old data anyway.

1. boot up DOS diskette with AEFDISK utility
2. At DOS prompt, type: AEFDISK /delall
   This will delete all partitions.
3. Use DOS utility FDISK to create a new partition.
4. Use DOS utility FORMAT to reformat the disk
   Eg. A:\> format c: /c/s
   This command will format the harddisk C: and will
   recheck existing marked bad sectors again, and put
   the System files on it so that it can boot up by itself.

NOTE:  If you still get bad sectors after this, just throw the harddisk away.  It's not worth storing files in it as it might just crash anyway.

Give it a go...

-richard
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Expert Comment

by:flashtek
ID: 8024277
I would not even bother trying to recover this drive.. bad sectors in my experiance will spread, damn annoying for the end user...

I agree with the going to a computer shop option, I would do that first.
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Author Comment

by:kevincherubini
ID: 8024690
Thanks for all the comments and suggestions so far - I've tried a few options with format and fdisk.

The error I'm getting now looks a lot more serious - "Track 0 bad - disk unusable".

Now, forgive me for asking a silly question, but does this mean that the disk is unusable?  Would AEFDISK or something like WDClear help to recover Track 0?  What about that maxlff and a low level format - would that help to restore Track 0?

I'm really clutching at straws here, I know, and I really should just buy a new disk.  I've just got one of those tenacious personalities and I hate to be beaten by a piece of metal and silicon.

The PC is terribly old anyway and my friend really should have thrown it away years ago but as I said she is a really good cook so I've enjoyed working for food :)

Thanks again.
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 8025815
From the present situation, almost anything could be tried. Get a suitable llf (or zero-fill) utility and try it. It needs to be run from a bootable floppy. Proceed with fdisk and format if you don't get any severe error messages.

Regards
/RID
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:PublicFatality
ID: 8026825
as what rid said a good low level format "may" fix it up... although track 0 problem ussually is not a good sign considering tha is where io.sys sits on the drive (to be bootable)   Try the low level format, heres a link to the low level format and a page on it:
http://www.ameriwebs.net/groupworks/george/maxtor.htm

It may take some time to low level the drive but be patient, if the status screen (ex. 10024 of 3000402) pauses or hitches attimes while low leveling consider the drive still bad.  IF all goes well, parition and format it nd you should be good--all in all you should still consider replacing the drive.  Your local computer store should have cheap used drives, at our store we sell used 4GB drives for like $20!  Keep in mind though, not all stores test the used drives and sell them as "AS-IS"

Hope his helps

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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:joinaunion
ID: 8036724
i,m not sure what kind of hard drive you have but if it is quantum or maxtor goto www.maxtor.com and search for a program called powermax download it then copy it to a 3.5 floppy boot your puter with a win 98or 95 boot disk then put in the floppy at the a prompt type powermax it will detect your drive and ask if this is correct choose yes if it is when you get to the options choose low level format this rewrites zeros to all sectors bad or good you do not need to run it long about 10 min then stop it go back to the options and choose factory recertification once this is complete at the options choose install confirmation if all is good the hard drive will be ampty now .Exit the program put your boot disk back in and run fdisk and choose to delete primary partition,after that is done then choose to create a primary partition then resart your computer,leave your win98 boot disk in and choose to start with cd-rom support,then at the a promt type format/c: when that is done restart the puter again leave the win98 boot disk in choose cd-rom support when it starts then put the windows disk in then change the prompt to the cd-rom device and then set up windows again good luck
0
 

Author Comment

by:kevincherubini
ID: 8040597

Sorry, I should have said.  The disk is a Western Digital - I mentioned WD Clear up above there somewhere and I just assumed that you guys knew what this was - mea culpa.

I will try the "zero-fill" thing this weekend - and hopefully get another hot meal thrown in for my trouble - and let you know how I got on.

Thanks once again for all the comments and suggestions!
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:rayt333
ID: 8044974
Download the Data Lifeguard from WD before you go and try it to see if it helps any.
http://support.wdc.com/download/

Or direct link:
http://support.wdc.com/download/dlg/dlginstall_10_0.exe
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Expert Comment

by:wheeeee12345
ID: 8049156
you have to buy a new hard drive...if there were originally only a few bad sectors and then they spread to track 0, they'll just spread more, and it will crash soon

but like other people said, they are very cheap
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:joinaunion
ID: 8055742
goto http://support.wdc.com/download/index.asp and download dlg diagnostic it is a zip file so you will have to extract the files to a floppy disk and run the program from dos this also does a low level format (re-writes zeros to all sectors)
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LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:rayt333
ID: 8057244
Do I hear an ehco?
0
 

Expert Comment

by:rambler24
ID: 8075571
Bin the disk and get a new one (preferable) or risk a second-hand one. Messing around with an obviously failing HD is a total waste of time unless you're trying to recover valuable data. Even if something like a low-level format seems to fix the HD by marking clusters bad, you're only storing up trouble for the future. Doctors know when to give up on a dying patient. Follow their example.
0
 

Expert Comment

by:SHONNER
ID: 8105771
Bad sectors are worn areas of the drive that get worse each time the drive head touches them.  Bits o' drive scrape off and land on other areas of the drive which then ruin those sectors when the drive head races over.  Faulty drive head servo arms that damage sectors in this way eventually ruin the whole drive if you can get them to further seek more tracks.

So no.  Fancy partitioning will not fix a drive that has a drive head scraping away at it.
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
ID: 8112285
I agreed 100% with SHONNER.
0
 

Expert Comment

by:SHONNER
ID: 8112507
WORN = Write Once, Read Never.
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
ID: 8112850
Hey, it's EE fault: I cannot edit my own comments!
Should have read: "I agree 100% with SHONNER"
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Author Comment

by:kevincherubini
ID: 8112852
All right,  I've got the message.  

I bought a second-hand disk from a PC spare parts store - larger, faster, cheaper, better and so on.

Thanks for all the various suggestions and comments.

Now, who wants the 100 points?

0
 

Author Comment

by:kevincherubini
ID: 8112866
All right,  I've got the message.  

I bought a second-hand disk from a PC spare parts store - larger, faster, cheaper, better and so on.

Thanks for all the various suggestions and comments.

Now, who wants the 100 points?

0
 

Author Comment

by:kevincherubini
ID: 8112913

EE fault is right!  

Why are my comments appearing twice, two minutes apart?

0
 
LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
ID: 8112922
rayt333 <- looks like he suggested replaced the hard drive first.
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Adam Leinss
ID: 8112929
Because you hit refresh which posts the message again...wish they would fix that too!
0
 

Author Comment

by:kevincherubini
ID: 8112988

Thanks aleinss. You're right - rayt333 was first with that suggestion and also gave me a nice link to the WD site, which was a possible solution.

Thanks also to richardlee, PublicFatality and everyone else who took time to answer my question.

I'm off now to see if I can get free meals from somebody else.

Cheers,

Kevin
Will work for food.

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