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Honest bad sector reading or SCAM?

Posted on 2007-12-04
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Last Modified: 2010-05-18
Sent my secretary to the local computer dealer with her computer,  with the simple instruction to install some extra memory.    This was one of two computers purchased at the same time from this same dealer.   The second computer was used by one of my professional staff,  and the memory was increased on that computer about 5 months ago - no problem - not a big thing.     So I was expecting the same treatment with my secretaries computer.

But later in the afternoon my secretary gets a call stating that when they tried to defragment the hard drive,  allegedly it hung up because there were  too many bad sectors.    So when faced with the prospect of incurring the cost of extra memory,   plus extra hard drive,    I instead decided to get my secretary a new computer.

After the old computer was brought back to the office,   I decided to run chkdsk,   with the instruction to fix bad sectors.    It ran with no problem,  so I decided to review the chkdsk log,  using event viewer.     The log showed "0 bad sectors.    

This fueled my curiousity even more so I ran disk defragger in windows xp.    When the Analyze display came up,  it showed that the disk was essentially compacted with no real need of defragmenting.    But I ran defragger anyhow to see if it would give an error message about bad sectors,   which supposedly my dealer had gotten.     But the drefragger ran without any problem,  and slightly improved the compaction according to a display.

When I reviewed the chkdsk log,   there were only two dates:   one a few days before the day the computer was taken to the dealer,  and the second when I ran chkdsk myself (12/3/07).    I.e. there was no record in the event viewer of the dealer running chkdsk,  on 11/29/07 when he had the computer in his shop.

Question:    do computer repairmen have a way of running defragmentation and/or chkdsk that does not show up on any computer log?     If there isn't,  then am I correct in assuming that this dealer misrepresented facts to me in order to sell me a new computer?      Is there any way that the defragger routine can give a false bad sectors message?

dscpa491        
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Question by:storhaug
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6 Comments
 
LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:spoxox
ID: 20407660
There are certainly third party utilities that would do the defrag and more. These would maintain their own logs.
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by:jamietoner
jamietoner earned 30 total points
ID: 20407672
He could have ran it outside of windows from a live cd like bartpe(not sure why though were the system boots). I would be wondering why he didn't run an actual hard drive diagnostic if he though it was bad. I have seen disk defrag stop due to file system problems(bad or corrupt sectors) but more often that not they are fixed with a chkdsk. This repair man sounds kinda fishy to me.
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LVL 8

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by:Jeff Perry
Jeff Perry earned 30 total points
ID: 20407774
This is conjecture, but it is possible that the dealer used a Pre-Installation Environment such as Winternals, Barts PE or the like to run a disk scan that would not be logged within your OS.

It does sound suspicious.

While I wouldn't say it is impossible for a program to give a false positive, I don't believe I have ever encountered it with disk defragmenter.
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:bhnmi
ID: 20407821
Sounds like he wanted to sell you a drive and charge you to install it.
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Assisted Solution

by:SLFuqua
SLFuqua earned 30 total points
ID: 20408239
I have BartPE on my thumbdrive and often just boot to it to run chkdsk, there is just less to interfere with the scans and any needed repairs. But I agree with jamietoner, he should have run the manufacturer's diagnostic to confirm; chkdsk isn't reliable for sector repair, although it's useful for checking clusters (logical issues); and defrag is not even a diagnostic tool.

Then again, maybe he did run one and confirmed, and just didn't mention it. It should have been done though, a good part of the time the manufacturer's diagnostics can recover and relocate data from bad sectors, mark the bad sectors as such, and voila, good drive.

Best,
sl
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LVL 92

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by:
nobus earned 35 total points
ID: 20410588
if he ran chkdsk - you can ask him how, and say that you are a bit suspicious - present him with your findings.
then you can come to an understanding. Maybe he was trying to do the work he was asked for (new ram) too well, and ran a sytem check with diagnostics.
Another possibility could be bad contacts -  So let him explain first what happened and how.  He surely will understand he'll loose a client if he does not present you with a solid explanation
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