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Hard drive has bad blocks, now what?

hambonehambone Registered User
edited March 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Well, after a few days of poor system performance, I've finally determined that my hard drive has one or more bad blocks. Microsoft Help and Support recommends replacing the hard drive.

Do I have any alternatives? Are there any utilities I can use to keep the system from using those bad blocks, or does the system do that automatically when a bad block is discovered?

Will the problem get worse as time goes on, with more blocks going bad, or is something like this a one-time deal?

edit: warranty expired a while back, by the way.

hambone on
Just a bunch of intoxicated pigeons.

Posts

  • CycophantCycophant Registered User
    edited March 2007
    It seems like performing a disk check utility like Scandisk or other programs will mark the sectors as bad and avoid using them. As well, apparently most IDE drives also have circuitry within them to detect such flaws as well.

    I've also read that some people say formatting can fix these bad blocks, but apparently when you format the drive just avoids mapping the bad sectors and thus, they "disappear" despite still being there, giving the illusion of being fixed.

    You could replace the drive if you wanted to, but as long as the drive is from a reliable manufacturer, I wouldn't worry about it. I'd back your data up a little more often, and keep an eye on the bad sectors - if it continues to grow, seriously consider ditching the drive. But if this was a one-time thing, I wouldn't worry.

    And FYI, although your drive is out of warranty, most manufacturers will replace a drive if this happens while in-warranty. Just in case this happens again.

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  • yotesyotes Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    First, back up all your non-trivial data right now.

    In my experience, disks with bad blocks will only get worse and worse. Recently, mine was dying, and getting Windows to boot was pure torture, 100+ bad block reports each time, took 10-15 minutes to start up. Further on, it wouldn't even boot at all because the registry got corrupted every few days. Scandisk couldn't even finish because it encountered too many errors, and formats took 10+ hours (for a 2gig partition!).

    The only thing I can recommend is to get a new disk, they're not very expensive, and it's much less annoying that way.

    If you'd really like to know how badly your HD is doing, get a SMART tool. If your re-allocated/current pending sector numbers are bad, that thing is dying.

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  • hambonehambone Registered User
    edited March 2007
    It's a laptop hard drive. I've never replaced one of those before.

    I assume I can just unscrew the hard drive compartment and unplug the old failing one, and swap in a new one. Is there anything else I should know about buying and replacing a laptop hard drive?

    What about brand recommendations?

    Just a bunch of intoxicated pigeons.
  • yotesyotes Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    hambone wrote: »
    It's a laptop hard drive. I've never replaced one of those before.

    I assume I can just unscrew the hard drive compartment and unplug the old failing one, and swap in a new one. Is there anything else I should know about buying and replacing a laptop hard drive?

    What about brand recommendations?

    It was my first time with a laptop drive, too. I'm using an ECS laptop, so I don't really know if there are any differences to real manufacturers like Dell, HP etc. I just had to unscrew the drive from its bracket and remove a small connector and attach it to the new one, that's all there was to it.

    It looked more or less like this.

    As for brand recommendations, my dead one was a Fujitsu, so I'm automatically biased against them. Seagate offers a 5-year warranty so they're pretty confident about theirs, but I got a Samsung with a 3-year warranty because it was a lot cheaper.

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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2007
    yotes wrote: »
    In my experience, disks with bad blocks will only get worse and worse.

    All hard drives fail eventually and this is one of the first symptoms. It's not an OMG type of situation, usually HDDs just gradually deteriorate before hitting a critical point where their performance is so crippled they are essentially duff or they just collapse in a heap completely.

    If there's a few bad sectors, it's probably nothing to worry about. If it looks like the bad sectors are a cancer growing larger every week, you need to seriously start thinking about backing stuff up and looking for a new drive.

  • Descendant XDescendant X Registered User regular
    edited March 2007
    I've got a 40 GB HD in my computer that has bad blocks and it's been working fine for the last two or so years. YMMV.

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