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Data Lifeguard Diagnostics - Interpreting and Acting on the Test Results

Posted on 2011-09-04
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I've been using Data Lifeguard Diagnostics in the form of GWSCAN from Gateway - as this version seems to deal with SATA drives.
My approach has been:
1) Run the SMART test.  If this fails then there IS a problem.  It usually doesn't fail.
2) Run the QUICK test.  If this fails then IS THERE A PROBLEM?  I've always assumed so.

If the QUICK test fails then there is a message displayed:
"Please back up your data and then run extended test OR run a full media scan to resolve this issue ...."

This implies that the result of the Quick test may be fixable.  Indeed, I've done it and the Quick test issue was resolved.
But, where does that leave one?  What does "resolve this issue" really mean?

My approach has been:
If the QUICK test fails then replace the hard drive.
But, if the 3rd step resolves the issue then am I doing someone a disservice by having them buy a new hard drive?
That's why I need to know more about what "resolve this issue" really means.
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Question by:Fred Marshall
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dbrunton earned 167 total points
ID: 36481400
Relocates sectors to compensate for bad sectors.

A hard disk may have a bad sector at A.  Hard disks have a set of extra sectors that they can use.  In this case they set the hard disk up so that when it trys to access A it accesses one of the extra sectors.

These two threads show where the process is occurring (unfortunately for the people concerned it didn't work)

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/251672-32-strange-problem-occured-raptor-expert-help
http://www.techsupportforum.com/forums/f10/solved-no-boot-into-xp-561012.html

Now are you doing a disservice to the customers?  I'd explain to the customers what is happening but recommend a new hard drive to them.  There is no guarantee that the hard disk is permanetly fixed.  It may develop further errors or it may work perfectly.  Their choice.
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by:garycase
garycase earned 166 total points
ID: 36481764
The Quick Test is NOT a thorough test by any means ... it simply gathers the SMART data from the drive, and gathers other dianostic info available on the drive (relocated sector table, etc.) and makes an assessment of the state of the drive.     A drive can have transient defects that will result in a failure of this test ... but before considering it bad it's a good idea to run the much more thorough Extended Test.

... In fact, even the Extended test isn't a 100% reliable indication, as it does not do any write testing unless it detects bad sectors and you have run it with the repair option.   But if a drive passes the Extended Test, it will almost certainly pass the Quick Test AFTER that.

"Resolve this issue" in the context you've asked about simply means to give the drive a chance to implement the SMART system's automatic recovery ... which will either rewirte a "shaky" sector or relocate it to a spare if that fails.

For testing a new drive, I've found the most reliable way to confirm a drive is fine is to do a Quick Test; then an Extended test; then Write Zeroes; and then repeat the Quick & Extended tests.    If anything fails ... RMA the drive.

For a drive that already has data (so you don't want to do the write zeroes), I use a Leve 3 pass of GRC's excellent Spinrite utility to test it.    If Spinrite says it's okay, it's okay.    If it finds problems, I replace the drive.
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by:nobus
nobus earned 167 total points
ID: 36482714
instead of Spinrite, i now use HDDregenerator, i found it running faster, and it ran even in cases where spinrite locked up : http://www.dposoft.net/hdd.html      

it has repaired several disks for me - none came back

what it does : it rewrites "weak" sectors, without even loosing the data on it
so, of course, like any software, it can NOT repair physical defects, only these caused by software
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by:coredatarecovery
ID: 36490339
No, You're right, replacing the hard disk is usually the right move.

Once a drive starts having problems and is relocating sectors it usually goes down hill from there.

If the drive is still under warranty, I have them send it back to the mfg and when the replacement arrives I usually throw it in as drive D and setup a backup script to duplicate the data areas of the drive to the replacement drive every day or once a week.

That way they get something out of the old drive without the risk of data loss.
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by:nobus
ID: 36493671
i don't agree, if you read what's on the hddreg site, it claims "about 60% of all bad drives can be repaired" and i must say i tend to agree with him, from experience.
also - since none came back - it REALLY repaired the problem
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by:Fred Marshall
ID: 36533777
Thanks for the good advice!
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by:nobus
ID: 36534335
you're welcome
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