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Bad sectors oh HDDS - is it mainly an aging thing or pre existing problem.

Posted on 2010-11-18
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Anyone have an opinion (not a guess)
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Question by:fcek
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ken2421 earned 72 total points
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@fcek

Generally it is a matter of wear and tear and occasionally mishandling of a spinning drive like moving a PC while the drive is working. If a drive is not parked, it can damage sectors by contact with the platters caused by vibrations. Age causes some sectors to go bad. A drive plans for this and as blocks go bad or become unreadable the drive marks them to be ignored.

So it really comes down to the quality of the drive, it's internal parts, and it;s usage. Some drives deteriorate rapidly. I think with the modern drives having so much stored in such a small space we see more drive failures per Gigabyte than we used to. I plan drive replacements for SATA drives now at 3+ years. I used to think of the IDEs lasting 5 or more and SCSIs going 7 and beyond.

So by definition a drive will wear out. If the motor doesn't go or the electronics it will ultimately be bad blocks.

HTH,
Ken
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by:Anton74
Anton74 earned 72 total points
ID: 34170593
To add to that, there is a certain amount of variation in the longevity between identical drives from the same manufacturer; it can happen on a rare occasion that a nearly brand new drive fails, while another specimen of the exact same make and model might last longer than 10 years. This is simply due to slight manufacturing tolerances and a the luck of the draw (or sometimes perhaps trauma during shipping). Similarly, if you bought 2 brand new cars of the same model, it is normal for them to need repairs at different times down the road, and not in exact sync with each other even with similar usage patterns.

The norm however is for things to wear out over time mostly attributed to wear and tear caused by usage, and of course possible mistreatment (which includes excessive heat by the way, this tends to shorten a drive's life), precisely like ken2421 said.

Also, modern drives conceal bad sectors, by substituting them with one from a pool of spare sectors set aside for this specific purpose. This is done behind the scenes by the drive's firmware, and completely invisible to the OS and end user. This pool of spare sectors could be exhausted, at which point the drive can no longer conceal further bad sectors. I don't have hard numbers on this, but I believe this happens rarely, and when it does the drive is on its last leg.
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by:nobus
ID: 34171114
if you want more reliable drives, use the industry models designed for 24/24 use
or change over to SSD
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by:Michael-Best
Michael-Best earned 72 total points
ID: 34171475
Shock, vibration, extreme temperatures (too cold can be as bad as overheating) and stop / start cycles.
Generally laptop HDDs shortlive desktop HDDs for the above reasons.
HDD platters run on air bearings which is why a permanentely "on" (spinning) drive will likely outlast one that is stopping and starting ( the air pump starts when the platter starts )
For more info.:
http://www.hard-drive-help.com/technology.html
http://www.hard-drive-help.com/hard-drive-temperature.html

A good HDD/SSD monitoring and analysis application is recommeded.
http://www.hdsentinel.com/
(the free version is enough for home users)

Also HDD Regenerator may recover bad sectors:
http://www.dposoft.net/
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by:kevinhsieh
kevinhsieh earned 71 total points
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Everything that was been said is true, and your hard drive shipped with bad sectors as well, so the answer is both.

If you want to maintain your hard drive so that bad blocks get taken care of before they become a problem, or to recover a drive that has gone bad, pick up a copy of SpinRite 6. It works a a very low level to detect and correct bad sectors, and it will correct bad ones as well. It's an amazine piece of technology. It's all written is assembly, so don't panic when the download is only 163 kb.

http://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
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by:Michael-Best
ID: 34178753
Same technology:
HDD Regenerator 2011 $59.95
SpinRite v6.0 $ 89.00
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by:viki2000
viki2000 earned 213 total points
ID: 34180938
I always used with success HDD Regenerator, especially the version under Windows XP.
I tried also SpinRite, but I prefer HDD Regenerator - I find it faster if you use a trick (if you are interested I can explain it. I found it based on my experience with 5-6 HDD data recovered).

Regarding your initial question, I think you should read some basic data about HDD as for instance here:
http://www.mjm.co.uk/sectorremapping.html
http://whereismydata.wordpress.com/tag/hard-drive/
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by:nobus
ID: 34182228
>>   I find it faster if you use a trick   <<   please share - i am interested !
and HDAT2 does the same for free
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by:viki2000
viki2000 earned 213 total points
ID: 34182751
I will go little bit in some details before I share my approach (“trick”).

First, most of the common HDD have/had 3 years warranty and I have seen quite a lot in the my last company HDD not usable after 3 years and 1 month or 6 months.

They are designed to work at the limit – demagnetizing problems, because in each company everyone looks now for savings and they make good things according with the required standards – at the limit, everything being cheaper,, but not so good as they were in the beginning when they were very strong/healthy.

Sometimes by mistake I drooped a HDD from hand on the floor, of course had the damaged sectors, sometimes becoming an unusable HDD.

The worst experience that I had was with 2.5” HDD from laptops, particularly Toshiba HDD. I want to believe due to the mobility/mechanical schlock – in laptops or external HDD.

When I realized I had bad sectors on HDD, in the past, after I recovered the data, I formatted the HDD, then I identified the areas with bad sectors and I created 2-3-4 partitions in such way the bad sectors remained in unallocated area – this was still OK for a PC with no so important data, or where the main data was saved on server. I knew that reallocation of the bad sectors was at the limit, bur still worked for at least 1-2  more years.

In most of situations from my experience, I identified the bad sectors close to that area where the heads of HDD are parked, meaning an end of disc(s) – not only there, but mostly there – as the heads would not have been parked correctly.


Now, coming back at HDD Regenerator:
-You start the program and is going with a certain speed (let’s say acceptable), faster inside to XP, and when it finds bad sectors then is moving really slow, Kb (like the eye of a dead man) and I am not the man with so much patience when we speak about hundreds of GB today. And you do not know how long is going to take – I tried sometimes 7-10 hours, over night or wasted a day.
- I feel better when I know how big the damage, in how many places is, how big is each zone with bad sectors – because it gives me the feeling that I know when is going to end the job, or maybe I will throw that HDD in the garbage.
- So, because I prefer to do things instead of waiting, I used simple a concept from mathematics that I apply many times in life: the “halving interval”. When you identify the zone then you a bit logarithmic.

Let’ say you have a 100GB HDD.
Start HDD REG and scan from middle 50GB. If in 5-10-15 min everything is still going fast then stop scanning and start again from 25GB; Then again 10GB
Then 5GB, Then 2GB or 3GB, Then 1GB, until you find the problem, usually under 50MB sometimes.
Looks scary but is a pretty fast procedure, under 1hour, or maybe 2 maximum. But after that you know the mapping of bad sectors. Is not so slow as it looks.

Now is coming the interesting part. Let’s say I have some bad sectors around 50MB and all over between 5MB and 50MB spread random.
I found that HDD REG is working faster or at least my impression, when it repairing from bad sectors (as end of bad sectors) towards good sectors compared with repairing from beginning of bad sectors towards all the bad sectors that finds in its way – seems like good magnetized are has influence over bad magnetized area, or a not so bad scratch – this is a just a thought.

So, I start around 50MB, fins bad sectors, repairing – I know when in less than 5-10 min is going with faster scan. Then I stop and start again at 40MB or 45MB if is slow, and again and again.
The advantage is: is faster and bad sectors are repaired again and again giving you certitude.
The disadvantage: many start/stop of the scanning.
But keep in mind – over all, even if seems as “sisyphus” work, is faster and you know exactly what is going on and when job will be finished, only that are a lot of steps from your side.

It worked each time for me.

Good luck to you too!
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by:nobus
ID: 34182914
i see your point - and as a matter of fact - i did the same !
next time, try HDAT2 scan and repair
and - the latest HDD Regenerator is faster also !
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by:viki2000
viki2000 earned 213 total points
ID: 34182949
Some additional info for who is interested:
http://entertainmentstorage.org/articles/Hard%20Disk%20Drives_%20The%20Good,%20The%20Bad%20and%20The%20Ugly.pdf

ftp://193.167.42.127/pub/Theses/2006_MSc_Semakin_Stanislav.pdf

Some of the software that I tried:
DiskMonitor
HDDObserver
HDDlifePro
SmartHDD
ArgusMonitor
CrystalDiskInfo
HDData
HDD Health
HDD Scan for Windows
Stellar Smart
ActiveSmart
DiskMonitorFree
Disk Doctor Drive Manager
Disk Monitor Free

I like too HDD Sentinel, but scares me with the estimation of the end of life.
In fact all these software, some better than others, are based on reading the S.M.A.R.T parameters – all of them.
The difference between them is only how the prediction of failure – meaning interpretation of the data is done.

When you are in trouble with your HDD, do not forget the electronic board too, where the microcontroller that has the SMART parameters is placed:
http://www.harddrive-repair.com/pcb-repair.html
http://www.harddrive-repair.com/hard-drive-parts.html
http://www.datarecovery.com/parts_exchange.asp
http://www.deadharddrive.com/
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by:fcek
ID: 34217909
Thanks everyone
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