Windows 7 Hard Drive Disk I/O Error

Posted on 2010-08-21
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Receive Intermitent Disk I/O Errors when performing various functions in Windows 7. Have already tried running scandisk.  Is their a tool available that would help resolve Disk I/O errors that is Windows 7 compatible and SATA Hard Drive compatible ?

Question by:RJDPCRRPTS

Accepted Solution

che6ausc earned 250 total points
ID: 33491492
You should check the health of the hard drive with a diagnostic:
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Assisted Solution

dlethe earned 125 total points
ID: 33491854
A few things -
* Click option under ADVANCED to scan/repair bad blocks.  This will repair bad blocks in partition but not full drive.  (If a block is not repairable, then it will let you know).
* Do not confuse scandisk with a diagnostic
* If disk is creating bad blocks after a scandisk (assuming you did the option to repair), then REPLACE the drive.  No need for diagnostics.  You ran one already, called Windows 7, and it failed the test.  :)

Expert Comment

ID: 33491895
When feeling uncertain about the condition of harddisk you oculd always read the S.M.A.R.T. information logged inside most harddisks. I use the freeware Speedfan, which also diagnoses and as an option controls the cooling fans inside the computer in the way you might decide yourself, which of course requires some technical skills.
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Expert Comment

ID: 33491914
S.M.A.R.T. is NOT infallible, BTW, but if your drive does trigger the S.M.A.R.T. alert, it is good enough for the manufacturer to accept the disk for a warranty replacement (if within warranty).

Assisted Solution

che6ausc earned 250 total points
ID: 33492142
You guys sound like running a hard drive diagnostic is like running a marathon.  The manufacturers created these diagnostics for a reason.  

I/o errors in windows can be caused by almost anything hardware and software related.  Even memory during paging operations.
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ocanada_techguy earned 125 total points
ID: 33496427
What errors?  Can you be more specific please.  What are the circumstances?
For instance, some modern and "green" drives have a sleep time they spin down, and I have seen instances where they spin back up but the OS and drive have a slight hiccup that causes Event Log errors.  In that case they can be ignored, but then how are you supposed to differentiate errors you can ignore from ones that require action, so ideally you can tune the power settings to stop the problem.

Do you have good backups?  At least all your important files and data you wish to keep?
Bad sectors happen normally over time, the magnetic surface on the platters doesn't keep in perpetuity without the occisional drop-out.
Be aware that scandisk with the fix bad sectors ticked (or /R option of chkdsk, same thing really, one is just a GUI front end) they do the job of setting aside bad sectors but they do a LOWSY job of recovering the data affected by bad sectors, "gives up" after a handful of retries, so yes the bad sectors are remapped to "spare" sectors, but without the data off the spot it just contains zeroes so the affected files/folders are now "corrupted" and you'd be expected to recover them from last good backup.

An aletrnative for bad sectoring, if the data is important and backups may not be current or exist, is  (or HDDRegenerator) which take "heroic" measures retrying literally hundreds of times and scientific statistical data analysis and signal variances to reassemble the data so most all if not all the data is recovered and copied to spare sectors before the bad sectors are remapped.  SpinRite also shows SMART data, and I prefer it's detailed logging and more informative screens over HDDRegenerator.  It's also an excellent preventative measure, setting aside "iffy" sectors before they become "bad" thus saving data and prolonging the useful lfe of your drives.  Full disclosure, to be fair, I've seen it have issues with some extremely large drive partitons, (but support will try to help) and a new version is overdue.

It is NOT a perfect indicator, more of a pattern or trend.  Reasons the smart flag might get raised are a bunch of bad sectors all in a row suggesting a disk crash, or the drive is not spinning up to speed properly, excessive temperatures, or other things.  On many settings a threshold of "0" means it will never raise a red flag for the purposes of smart.  Windows XP, Vista, 7, don't seem to include continuous S.MA.R.T. monitoring.  Unbutu does.   So what usually happens is when you turn on SMART monitoring in the BIOS, all that does is check at POST (power on self test) and if any smart thresholds are exceeded the red flag goes up, but that's the only time.

So, a suggestion like Speedfan by ghemstrom is a very good one.  With certain hardware makers they have an add-on tool that monitors fans, voltages, temperatures, and hard disk s.m.a.r.t., such as PCProbe II for ASUS motherboards.  I think it should be built into the OS, not that all motherboard makers include the necessary chipsets that monitor it mind you.  (My commercial, this is Windows 7, and this is MY idea, oh wait, they didn't do that one, oh look, a flying pig.)   Some corporate IT departments INSIST all machines chosen include that capability and use a SMS or centrally monitored add-on software to gather pull or push data or triggered alerts about the HEALTH from all workstations.

No reason individuals shouldn't have the same.  Look at the HWMonitor free/Pro app at  The single most frequent problems are bad sectors that never get fixed, drives that are failing and about to fail but users are oblivious, fans that stop working, temperatures that go to high, and power supplies that go and start supplying bad voltages.  All of these are very easy and very cheap to fix if caught early and all of these have serious and disasterous consequences if left unchecked.  It's incredible to me in this day and age that this stupidity still exists.  It's like having a car, with no oil, temperature, or engine warning lights.

The correct way to diagnose a hard disk is with the diagnostic tool appropriate to the drive.  Each manufacturer's is different. Don't try to use one manufacturer's diagnostic on a different manuf. drive, as you won't get anything true or reliable that way.  (Seatools works on Seagate and Maxxstor 'cause Seagate aquired Maxxtor, but Western Digital you must use theirs, and so on)
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This question has been classified as abandoned and is being closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See my comment at the end of the question for more details.

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