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Failing SATA Hard Drives?

Posted on 2014-08-07
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I have lots of hard drives that I believed to be faulty and beyond repair.  None of these drives made physical sounds to indicate the perceived failure but for one reason or another would not function properly.  Some would hang in the OS at some point, some would loop with a check disk failure of some sort and others were just generally quirky.  For testing I've used Cyrstal Disk Info primarily.  Also event viewer is useful.

I began reading that some of the errors like, pending sector counts could be cleared with a zero fill.  I decided to try this using HD Tune and wallah!  Now a few of these failing drives, all that I've cleared so far, pass with flying colors when I test with Crystal Disk Info.

In the first test I've completed I created an image of the possible failing drive using Acronis.  I then zero filled the hard drive with HD Tune.  Once complete and passing Crystal Disk Info I then recovered the image to the repaired drive.  This particular drive only had one sector with problems according to CDI.  The problem of general slowness and up and down performance is now gone with the above fixes applied.

Was that all it took?  Could this large pile of TB's upon TB's I have really be useful again?  Most of these drives are cheap drives that come in new consumer laptops and desktops.  Any and all advice is welcome.  Thanks in advance.
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Question by:1namyln
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garycase earned 2000 total points
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In general, once a disk starts accruing reallocated sectors, it's many times more likely to fail than a disk without any.    Pending sectors are sectors that the SMART system will reallocate on the next write ... so when you fill the drive with zeroes, that's generally what happens.    [It's possible that the writes succeed and the sector is simply cleared from the pending state ... but that's not likely true for many of them]

I'd look at the SMART reports on the drives after you've done the zero fill ... and if they look okay (a few reallocated sectors is fine ... but watch to see if this count increases -- a BAD sign).     If the SMART parameters look good; and the drives are working well;  then they're fine for many uses ... backups, secondary storage, etc. ... but I wouldn't use them as a primary system drive.
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by:nobus
ID: 40248055
it can also be due to sectors that were not written with proper amplitude.
i always run HDDRegenerator on my drives, to ensure they are written correct : http://www.dposoft.net/hdd.html      

it repaired many drives for me
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by:rindi
ID: 40248177
When you want to find out whether a disk is bad or not, you should always use the diks's manufacturer's diagnostic utility to find that out. 3rd party tools generally aren't as reliable as THE manufacturer's tool. Besides, if it finds a problem with the disk, it usually gives you an error code or report which you can use to RMA the disk (or get a warranty replacement). Those tools can be downloaded directly from the manufacturer's site.

Most of them are also included on the UBCD:

http://ultimatebootcd.com
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by:1namyln
ID: 40249735
Spoke to soon.  One of the two that were cleared now begins to show signs of problems again.
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by:garycase
ID: 40250231
Not surprising.   As I noted above, drives are FAR more likely to fail once they start having reallocated sectors.    I've read studies that say they're 40 times as likely to fail in the next 90 days than drives without any reallocations.
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by:nobus
ID: 40250293
i have not had problems with drives that were ok'ed by HDDRegenerator...
but it's your d ecision
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by:1namyln
ID: 40251751
I missed the HDDREgenerator comment.  My apologies.  I will test this program next.  Most of these drives would be used in NAS's with multiple drives.  This is actually how I found out this latest drive was failing as the NAS was notifying me.
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by:nobus
ID: 40251809
it claims about 60 % of reported "bad " drives are actually fine - after repair with this tool
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by:garycase
ID: 40251878
Both HDD Regenerator and Spinrite are excellent tools for attempting recovery of older drives.     I've had good luck with Spinrite managing to repair defective sectors so they could be read for data recovery.    But neither of these excellent tools can change the fact that once a drive start accruing reallocated sectors, it's a LOT (as I noted, some studies say 40 times as much) more likely to fail within the next 90 days.

With the size and very nominal price of modern drives, I no longer bother with Spinrite except when attempting to recover data from drives with bad sectors.    When a drive fails either SMART or the manufacturer's diagnostics, I simply toss it.   Just not worth the hassle when high quality NEW drives are only $40/TB.
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by:nobus
ID: 40251918
Garycase, it looks like spinrite has not been updated for years; maybe you know more about it?
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by:garycase
ID: 40251935
It hasn't been updated since v6 -- probably because it just WORKS :-)

There are a few things Steve has indicated he would change "one of these days" ... but clearly Spinrite isn't high on his list of things to do (probably because of the old "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage).

Note that most of the testimonials on the Spinrite page are from 2014 and 2013 ... so clearly the current version is doing fine for most users.
https://www.grc.com/sr/testimonials.htm
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by:1namyln
ID: 40251940
I've used Spinrite a few times and maybe it was because the disk I was using were un-salvagable but I was confused on how to use it.  GUI's have made me stupid in some ways.
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by:1namyln
ID: 40251943
And Steve Gibson is awesome!
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by:nobus
ID: 40251961
Thanks Garycase  for the speedy reply
i had cases where spinrite did not work, and HDDRegeneraor did work, that's how i started using it, and i'm very happy with it (btw - i also have Spinrite still on a floppy !)
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