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Hard drive SMART Error

1720 SMART Drive Detects Imminent Failure / Failing Attribute: 01.

This has been occurring, for the past 3 years, on a HP-Compaq dc5850 micro tower desktop running Win 7 Pro (32 bit). The HD is a Samsung 500 GB SATA drive. The computer itself runs at 2.8 GHz,  4 GB RAM, AMD Phenom II x3 720.

As I mentioned above - this has been going on for three years before the computer was brought to me. Pressing F1 allows the computer to continue booting normally and no other issues are experienced. I have been to HP site and forums with little help. The links to the HP diagnostics don't work (for this computer). The forums say install the firmware for the BIOS and/or hard drive. Others say just to replace the hard drive. Before I try the firmware route I would like to try and get some clarity on this issue.

Can anyone give me a more definitive answer on just how to handle this error message even if it is only to replace the hard drive.
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First, that disk is well beyond the manufacturer's warranty.  

Personally I would add another 500GB sata drive, and mirror it.  Then not only will you get a nice speed improvement, but also you are protected against data loss WHEN that disk does die.  You are on borrowed time.

As for the message, you can get a SMART error for a lot of things, from the HDD being dropped, to the bad block table being full.

SMART is not infallible.  You get false positives and missed negatives.   BIOS updates are a waste of time unless the release notes say they fix a bug that causes a perfectly good disk to create SMART alerts.
You can turn off the SMART checks for the hard drive in the bios, although this is not reccomended. As previous mentioned that SMART is no infalliable you can get false positives indicating that the drive is bad. When you do get a SMART drive error code then it is best to test the drive throughly with a hard drive diagnostics tool created by the drive manufacturer. If this test has past then it may be safe to turn off the SMART checks in the bios. You are really taking a chance of losing your data on your drive if you continue to use it when the drive is starting to fail.
Besides of the (excellen) tips above:

If you want to know what's tripping in the drive, use one of the various HDD diagnostics programs out there who is capable of reading out SMART. I.e. "defraggler" (a free defrag util) is capable of that.

With that info your further steps may be more justified. Anyhow: A new HDD (or a mirror twin) is always cheaper than a data recovery or even a coplete FUBAR crash.
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Gary Case
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