Tuesday, 27 May 2014

3 Possible Things You Can Do to Repair Hard Drive Bad Sectors

Traditional hard drive carries multiple mechanical parts which degrades over time and affect its standard operation. Hard disk platter is one such equipment which plays the crucial role in saving and transferring the stored data. Due to its magnetic nature, the surface of the platter starts wearing out more often than normal. Once the magnetic area of the hard disk platter becomes damaged, it can’t be used by the system to store further data as well as the existing data become corrupt or damaged. Damaged area on the platters are known as Bad sectors of hard drive which will result in data loss of that particular area.


Bad sectors can also surfaced by physical damage delivered by dropping or throwing it on the floor. It is impossible to repair the damaged sectors physically, there are still some way out to repair it if the corruptions are logical (soft bad sectors) by running disk error checking tool in Windows or running disk utility in Mac. These utilities are designed to cooperate bad sectors smoothly so that it won’t hamper the saved data consistency and not damage its nearby sectors.

There are specially two types of bad sectors on the hard disk which may ends up in making your data corrupt or unreadable. 

Soft bad sectors: Such problems arises due to software malfunction, read/write head problems which scratched the data area of the hard drive and makes data become unreadable by the operating system. These bad sectors are fairly common and can happen with hard drive of any age. The easiest possible solution to get rid of the soft bad sectors is by completely formatting or erasing the hard drive. Formatting will fill zero bytes on each and every sectors of the hard drive and make it ready to be used once again.

Hard bad sectors: Any mechanical problems with the hard drive itself can result in hard bad sectors. Such bad sectors has tendency to damage its nearby sectors and soon, makes the entire hard drive with loads of bad sectors enough for making it completely failed. Hard bad sectors can’t be repaired and the best bet is to copy/move all your data immediately and purchase another hard drive to continue using your system without any trouble. Using hard drive recovery software will not help at all in such circumstances as the drive already becomes unreable by the BIOS and therefore, recovery software too can't read it anymore.

Investigating Bad Sectors
There are few simple steps to find out whether your hard drive having bad sectors; however we suggest you to follow the extensive method of pin pointing the bad sectors on your hard drive.

Disk error checking: Windows have inbuilt utility that performs detailed analysis for files and folders and check for their consistencies. In case you’re experiencing problem with scan such as crashing, showing error while checking disk, freezing etc. , it might be a sign of failing hard disk as the bad sectors might preventing the normal operation of disk error checking operation.

Surface scan test: This test is performed on the hard drive with suspected with bad sectors symptoms. While checking, it’ll check and mark the bad sectors and use spare sectors to replace them.

SMART Tool:It performs the series of test on the problem hard drive and gives exact record of health status of problem hard drive including the bad sectors count.

Once you found that the hard drive has fairly large number of bad sectors, you should immediately start seeking for alternative options to repair it or replacing the whole hard drive (if your budget allows).

Repairing bad sectors
Bad sectors can result in major disaster and all your hard disk data soon become inaccessible. While it’s almost impossible to get back data from the damaged sectors, you can try repairing the logically damaged bad sectors so it won’t affect the remaining area of the hard drive.

Follow steps carefully mentioned below and see if you can overcome with any or all the bad sectors you may have found during scanning.

#1. Check Disk Utility

Microsoft Windows comes with an inbuilt disk repair utility to fix minor or major problems with the system such as problems with the volume, cross linked files, bad sectors, directory related errors and more.

You can run this utility directly from ‘My Computer’ > Windows Explorer or using elevated command prompt window. Below are the steps to run this utility from ‘My computer’:
  • Open ‘My Computer’ by double clicking on it or directly press ‘window’ button + E.
  • Right click on desired hard disk volume/partition and choose properties for which, you want to check errors. In case you are not sure which volume to select first, start by selecting any volume and if the problem is not resolved, follow the same procedure to check errors for another volume.
  • On the Tools tab, click on Check Now button located under error checking section.
  • Pop up window will open and ask you to choose the desired task to perform. Ensure that you’ve check mark the two boxes stating ‘Automatically fix file system errors’ and ‘Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors’.
  • Click on Start to begin the scanning procedure.
Note: This utility wants exclusive access on the volume you’ve chosen to perform disk error check function. Also, the whole procedure may takes little longer time depending on the size of the targeted volume.

#2. Utilities provided from hard drive manufacturer
Famous hard drive manufacturer such as Western Digital, Seagate or Maxtor provide their own drive check utility such as Data Lifegaurd Diagnostics, Seatools for Windows and PowerMax.

These utilities were designed to perform error check function on the hard drive of only relevant manufacturer except WD Data Lifegaurd Diagnostics which generally detects hard drive from any manufacturers and attempt to repair bad sectors.

These utilities are fairly easy to use and runs in wizard based interface. Users with basic to advanced computer knowledge can efficiently use these tools.

#3. Disk Checkup from PassMark

It is a little different and comparatively easy to use utility which clearly draws barrier between normal and problem hard drive by executing tests based on the series of attributes. It comes with prebuilt SMART diagnostic tool which fetch all the required details from the hard disk and later, compares it with any normal hard drive which has nearly new or in perfect condition.