chkdsk: "Adding 3241 bad clusteres to the Bad Clusters File" - How bad is it?

Hi all,

Windows Vista kept locking up when trying to access/save to certain folders in my 2nd HD (not primary).  When running chkdsk, it would hang/free at the beginning of stage 4 (of 5).

I eventually backed up all the files to the primary HD, did a 'quick format' on the HD and ran chkdsk again (this time from within Windows).  It completely successfully this time around, but with the following message which stood out:

"Adding 3241 bad clusteres to the Bad Clusters File"

How bad is that?  Is 3241 bad clusters a lot?  What should I do now?

I have several tools at my disposal, including Ultimate Boot Disk, SpinRite, and the option to zero-fill format my drive.

Also, the chkdsk log mentioned:

"122096000 total allocation units on disk.  122067129 allocation units available on disk."

Thanks!
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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
I would not worry unduly about losing a few bad sectors - you can try slow formatting the drive not quick formatting it, but if the drive has bad areas, then it has bad areas.
To put this into perspective, you have potentially lost 0.00265% of your hard disk drive.  Not a whole hill of beans!
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rindiCommented:
You won't be able to get any reliable results using tools from inside windows. Use your ubcd and run the HD manufacturer's diagnostic tool on it to test your HD. Most of these tools will tell you when you should have the disk replaced.
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ComputerTechieCommented:
I would use spinrite to go though the drive and have it check the bad sectors and find others and mark them.

CT
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
I'm doing a Zero-Fill Format now which is going to take several hours.

What should I run after that, the Diagnostics or SpinRite?
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ComputerTechieCommented:
i would run the diagnostic to see if the wipe was cleaned.

CT
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, in the middle of the Zero Fill (using Disk Manager v. 9.56 from Seagate Technology), I am now getting the following error:

"Write Failure to Drive
Continue?
(Y)es
(N)o"

That sounds pretty bad, what does it mean and what should I do?
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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
How big is your HDD?
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
500GB
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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
Is the drive still under warranty? - you might consider replacing it via the manufacturer.
Have you checked the manuacturers website for disk tools to check against the drive?
You are looking at a loss of 1.325Gb of space!
 
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
I bought the computer with this drive in a different country and about 3 years ago, so the Warranty might be difficult to effectuate even if it is still under Warranty.

Assuming the worst case scenario - that it is not under warranty and cannot be replaced - can I salvage this drive in any way (even if it means losing 1.325Gb of space)?  If so, how?  Do I click on "YES" to continue the Zero Fill?  And then what would I do?

Thanks for your help.
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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
I am not 100% au fait with recovering bad sectors - I'd personally not worry about it unless you are desparate for the space.
If the drive is 3 years old, then it is probably worth replacing anyway, as it may fail compeltely before long anyway, with your recent loss of sectors being the sign of things to come :-(
Check the serial number of the drive on the manufacturers website - you may be pleasantly surprised, but if not, then I'd personally buy another drive and clone the existing one onto it to make sure your data is safe.
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rindiCommented:
If the manufacturer's diagnostic tool says it is bad, then it is bad. There's no point in risking your data on a bad disk. Disks are cheap these days and easily replaced.

Usually warranty lasts 1 year for a PC. Although HD's often have a 3 year or even 5 year warranty, those disks that come in prebuilt PC's are usually OEM disks, and those only have 1 year warranty. You can normally find out if your disk still has warranty vie the manufacturer's website, some allow you to check the status by entering the serial number of the disk. If it still has warranty you just send the HD manufacturer the disk, the country doesn't matter. But often it isn't worth it because of the postal charges which can be similar to buying a new disk.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, here's an update.  This is just getting very bizarre.

So I completed the Zero FIll formatting on the HD2, which encountared 2 Write Errors during the process (I pressed "continue" on both).

I then formatted the drive in Windows.

I then used SeaTools DOS, which required me to temporarily changed the "RAID On" to "RAID Autodetect / ATA" under SATA Operation in the BIOS to get it to load (I had to do this because I was getting the same as per this thread: http://forums.seagate.com/stx/board/message?board.id=SeaTool&thread.id=88).  That fixed it and allowed me to load the SeaTools for DOS.

I then proceeded to do a Long Test on HD2.  The Long Test encountered some errors, and I clicked on "Repair All".  When the process completed, it said the HD2 "Passed after Repair".  The diagnostics info also showed that SMART is enabled on HD2 and it had NEVER been triggered.

To be thorough, I also did a Long test on HD1 which passed without errors or repairs needed.

I then restarted and re-enabled the "RAID On" in my BIOS so that Windows would load, and restarted.

That computer started loading normally (although it seemed to take an extra two seconds or so during the initial RAID boot up info screen) and then I got the Windows Vista progress bar at the bottom.  After a few moments, the progress bar disappeared and nothing happened although I could see the hard drive light permanently on (it was doing something).  I left it on for a few moments and nothing happened, although the light stayed on.

I then tried booting into safe mode and saw that it was hanging on the "null.sys" fill.

I booted into Puppy Linux (via CD) and when trying to mount the drives, I got the following error:

"The ntfs-3g driver was unable to mount the NTFS partition and returned this error message:
Failed to write lock '/dev/sdb1': Resource temporarily unavailable
Error opening '/dev/sdb1': Resource temporarily unavailable
Failed to mount '/dev/sdb1': Resource temporarily unavailable

So, the inbuilt kernel NTFS driver has been used to mount the partition read-only"

So I can only open the two hard drives as "read-only" in Puppy Linux (never had this problem before).

I tried booting the Windows Vista CD to repair and it hangs on the screen with the colored background after the initial load.

So.....

What the heck happened and how do I fix this now?  Windows was loading fine on HD1 until now...

Thanks.

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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
If you are running the drive as part of a RAID array, running chkdsk on the array will be quite likely to blow up the array.
Extract from http://www.quetek.com/RAID_mistakes.htm
Chkdsk being run on one of the disks:
Chkdsk is a Windows utility that uses simple algorithms to recover data from a corrupt disk. Chkdsk can be started by the user or automatically by Windows if it detects disk corruption at boot time. (Windows will ask for confirmation before starting chkdsk but will start it anyway if no response is received after a number of seconds.) Chkdsk is not RAID-aware. Its algorithms only work in the simplest cases. In general, it must be avoided.

If chkdsk attempts to repair one or more member disks, the RAID data patterns will be destroyed, usually beyond recovery.
If you have killed your array then you will need to resort to your latest backup to recover the data, having rebuilt the RAID array.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the reply, but I did not run chkdsk this time around, only the Long Test from SeaTools.

Also, if the RAID was corrupt, why is the Windows progress bar appearing at all and why is it freezing on "null.sys" ?

Any more insight would be appreciated.  I have very important files on HD1 that I cannot lose (whose backup used to be on HD2 until yesterday's zero fill format of that drive).  I really need to fix this.

Thanks.
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Alan HardistyCo-OwnerCommented:
I would clone HD1 before you go any further as you sound like you are digging yourself a deep hole.
Have you tried last known good configuration?
Once you have cloned the HDD and tried Last Known Good, I would run a Windows Repair on the drive - boot from Windows CD-ROM and repair the existing installation.
Failing that - I would be buying a new drive or two and rebuilding from scratch.
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rindiCommented:
I don't seem to remember you mentioning anything about raid being used in your original Q, that can be quite important, and would be more important to know what type of raid you used?

Also at one point you were doing the zero fill of a disk, and that would empty the HD of any data (some tools call it "lowlevel format", so if after that you have problems starting your OS would be something I'd expect.

Usually if you can't mount a partition under linux, that means that a chkdsk /x is called for on that partition. This may have been brought up because of Vista not loading and you turning the PC off. That will normally corrupt filesystems and then you wouldn't be able to mount it properly under linux because it first has to go through the chkdsk.

Chkdsk has nothing to do with raid, rather it is used to repair the filesystems m$ uses, fat and ntfs. It works perfectly on raid arrays, and it should be run, but can take a long time, depending on the size of the drives and the number of errors. The main problem with chkdsk is when it is run on fat filesystems. Fat, contrary to ntfs, doesn't have any transaction logs, so if the PC crashed and lost data, chkdsk will not be able to repair anything, and delete the corrupt files, while with ntfs it can usually recover the corrupt files from the transaction logs.and will remove corrupt parts on the partition.

You should now boot your PC with the vista installation DVD. There is a repair option which will try to get your system running again. Among those repairs it'll probably also run chkdsk. Depending on your raid, you may be required to provide the raid driver via USB key or similar during the process.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the info rindi, but as I mentioned 2 posts up, when trying to boot from the Windows Vista CD to do a repair, it hangs before I can do anything.

As for the RAID, I believe both HD's use RAID but I don't actually have any RAID configured...in other words, both drivers are working independently.

 What other options do I have?

Thanks.
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rindiCommented:
If you don't think you are using raid, turn it off in the BIOS. Use compatibility or IDE mode (whatever it is called on your PC). After tht the vista repair will probably work. Now it hangs most likely because it needs the controller's driver...
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Thanks, I'll give it a shot and report back.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, that worked!  I was able to get into the Windows Vista Repair.

However, I selected "Startup Repair" and it found no errors.  So I opened the command prompt and ran a chkdsk /f on c: and it also found no errors.  Bizarre.

If I attempt to start windows with the RAID off, I first get a "SATA Secondary hard disk drive 0 failure" and after pressing F1 to continue, I see the Windows Vista progress bar at the bottom for a quick moment and then the computer restarts (again, at the same file, "null.sys")

I then re-enabled RAID and the same thing happened with startup hanging at the "null".sys" file except that it does not automatically restart and just hangs there.  Last Known Configuration also did not work.

What is this "null.sys" file that is preventing Windows from starting?  Should I restore Windows to an earlier point using the Vista Repair CD?
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Any ideas, guys?

Thanks.
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ComputerTechieCommented:
I say break the raid backup your data.
connect the raid delete the raid
create the raid again.
reinstall windows press f6 during install to install the raid drivers.
continue with os install.
install all the drivers and windows updates
restore data

CT
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Thanks CT but unfortunately I have no way of externally backing up the data.

Any other ideas?

Thanks.
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ComputerTechieCommented:
in that case I would get another harddirve to exchange  for the drive with data.

CT
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Why would I exchange the HD1 (with important data on the 2nd partition) if it passed the Long Test without any problems?

Should I just try re-installing Windows Vista on the 1st partition on HD1?  That way I don't mess with the 2nd partition and hopefully get Windows to work and load ?

Thanks.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Any thoughts, guys?

Also, rindi, what did you mean by "Now it hangs most likely because it needs the controller's driver.."  I mean, why can't it access the controller's driver with RAID turned on if that's the default setting?

Thanks.
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rindiCommented:
Windows only has some standard drivers for IDE controllers already built into it. It doesn't know anything about SATA or RAID controllers, as all manufacturers use others. For all those special controllers you need a driver from the manufacturer loaded so the OS will recognize any drives connected to those controllers. With XP you needed a floppy with the drivers on it for the install media to be able to load such 3rd party drivers, with Vista you can have them on a USB drive.

If you don't use raid, turn it off, also if your Controller can be set to special SATA or AHCI modes, turn those of, there is no advantage in using them. IDE or compatibility mode is totally adequate for single drive use.

When doing your Vista repair, remove your other drive which probably isn't used, it may be interfering. Only get your OS drive repaired, and go through all the repair options the DVD gives you. Once you have the system running with just one HD you can try to add the other.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, I turned RAID off in the BIOS and repaired and restored Windows to an earlier point.  The repair program said it could not detect the 2nd partition on HD1 nor HD2, but I proceeded anyway.  I then restarted and the same thing happened, it automatically restarted during boot-up.  I then re-enabled RAID and the same thing happened (except for the automatic restart).  So the Windows repair did not seem to fix the problem.

I then did the following, I turned SATA off for the 2nd drive in the BIOS and now Windows loaded normally (I probably should have tried that earlier)!

Now how come Windows loads fine with the 2nd HD turned off via the BIOS?  Also, how do I regain access to my 2nd HD?

Thanks.
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rindiCommented:
What exactly have you turned off, SATA mode, or the complete HD? If you only turned off SATA mode, then your disk should still be available through normal IDE or Compatibility mode. That's what I tried explaining above, not running in SATA mode has no disadvantages.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Here's what I did:

In the BIOS, under "Drives", it lists each SATA (SATA-0, SATA-1, SATA-2, etc...) corresponding to HD1, HD2, DVD1, etc... respectively, and then it lists SATA Operation.  Before, I was going into SATA Operation and switching from "RAID On" to "RAID Autodetect / ATA", which is what had allowed me to finally access Windows Repair even though it would give me a HD2 failure warning during bootup.

Now what I did is I went specifically to SATA-1 (that corresponds to HD2) and simply turned it off ("this field allows the user to enable or disable an ATA or SATA device") while leaving RAID On under "SATA Operation".

Does that make sense?  Where does that leave me now with regards to HD2?

Thanks.
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rindiCommented:
Can you post the mainboard's model and manufacturer?
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Sure, where can I find that info?

The PC itself is a Dell Dimension 9200.
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rindiCommented:
That's probably enough info. I'll check the Dell site.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, thanks a lot, I appreciate it.
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rindiCommented:
In the BIOS under SATA operation, select ATA mode, that should be equivalent to IDE or Compatibility mode. Enable the HD's so all are seen, then try again.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
This is what I was doing before, which finally allowed me to go into Windows Repair, but when loading Windows, it kept automatically restarting automatically when hitting the null.sys file (see posts ID: 24841310 , ID: 24841766 above).

What else can I try?

Thanks.

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rindiCommented:
Now try zero filling that disk again (not the one that works, to be sure it is best to remove the disk that works completely from the system. When that is done, add the good HD again and try booting.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, I will try that and report back.  (I'm a bit averse to removing components from my computer as I'm no pro, so I might just try it first without removing HD1).

Also, the Zero Fill takes about 25 hours to complete on the 500 GB, is that normal?
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rindiCommented:
Yes it takes long. It's better to remove the good disk, otherwise it is possible to make mistakes and format the wrong HD. Also, it may be worthwhile to make sure what manufacturer the HD is actually from. It is best to use the manufacturer's utility to zero fill or lowlevel format it. That might also take less time. When you open the case you should see what manufacturer the HD's are from.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Both HD"s are from Seagate and I use an older Seagate tool to zero fill them, maybe that's why it takes so long.  But in order to use the newer SeaTools DOS, I have to disable RAID otherwise FreeDOS won't load correctly (as per: http://forums.seagate.com/stx/board/message?board.id=SeaTool&thread.id=88).

Should I maybe try disabling RAID and using the new SeaTools DOS to see if it zero fills any faster?
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rindiCommented:
You should always run lowlevel disk tools from non raid systems. All the manufacturer's utilities can be found on the UBCD, if that hasn't yet been mentioned:

http://ultimatebootcd.com
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Yup, UBCD is what I was using for the zero fill, although it contains an older version of the Seagate tools.  I'll turn off RAID in the BIOS and do a zero fill from the newer SeaTools DOS in case it's any faster.

I'll report back when it's finished.

Thanks for all your help.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
OK, by doing a quick zero fill (called a Erase Track Zero - Quick Zero fill to erase the data and partitions from a drive. This option requires one second to complete), I was able to get Windows to finally load under normal circumstances (SATA-1 on, RAID on).  However, it loaded slower than normal, and when I went to initialize the simple drive in Windows together with a quick format, the Windows Disk Manager froze, so I'm now doing a complete zero fill (called a Full Erase - Fills the entire drive with zeros. It can be used to recover bad sectors and erases all data.  This is not a Secure erase).

That will take about a day to complete, but hopefully it will fix the problem once and for all.

In the meantime, any ideas why the Quick zero fill allowed Windows to finally load normally?
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rindiCommented:
Leave raid off all along, you only need it if you are actually going to use raid (mirroring). Otherwise you just have more overhead and in case of issues more things to think about.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
The Dell BIOS explicitly mentions that even if you use a single HD it is better to leave RAID on.  Furthermore, if I turn off RAID, the 2nd HD is not detected even though no RAID configuration is set for it.

Any ideas why the Quick zero fill allowed Windows to finally load normally?

Also, I'm doing the complete zero fill as mentioned above but in 40 minutes it's still at 0% and at LBA 133888.  At this rate it will take several days, so should I abort and use the older Seagate tool to zero fill which does it in 25 hours?

Thanks.
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rindiCommented:
Sometimes there may be something on the 2nd HD that can cause problems, and with the 0-fill you deleted that.

If you want to use raid, you should start with a fresh installation from the beginning. First setup your HD's to be a mirror, then install your OS, making sure you have the raid drivers ready on USB for the installation. Your system should then only see 1 HD as they contain the same data.
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NeedExpertHelpAuthor Commented:
Problem fixed.

Here is how I did it:

1) I zero filled the drive using the new SeaTools for DOS
2) It failed near 72%, presumably due to the write errors encountered during the previous zero fill using the older SeaTools in the UBCD.
3) I did a Long Test, which Passed after Repair.
4) I enabled RAID in the BIOS.
5) I loaded the Windows Repair CD (which loaded with no problems this time, even with RAID on and SATA-1 (HD2) on).
6) I created a new partition and formatted it using the Windows Repair CD.
7) I restarted the computer and everything now works like a charm.

Having said that, even the the HD's SMART was never triggered and even though it passed the Long Test after repair, there most certainly is physical damage on the drive which is causing the new zero fill to fail.  However, I'm hoping the Long Test repairs have mapped out these bad sectors so that they are avoided by Windows (please let me know if my hope is unwarranted).

Thank you everyone for your help, particularly rindi.
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