John Howard - Senior Program Manager in the Hyper-V team at Microsoft

Senior Program Manager, Hyper-V team, Windows Core Operating System Division.

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Bad day at the office - disk help needed please

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I know how you all love horror stories, so for what it's worth, here's my sob story for the day. The good news (if there can be such a thing) is that I have a (hopefully) reliable backup of my data as of the end of last week. The bad news is that my Seagate laptop hard-disk is currently 78% through a full diagnostic check and reporting over 20 bad sectors so far. Now I always thought that running a disk check would ensure that Windows wouldn't use bad sectors on a disk - I had a problem like this a few weeks ago, and felt that a disk check would suffice. However, I "lost" (they're on backup) some VHD files for some virtual machines this morning plus a few other miscellaneous files. Windows was reporting event id 7 in the event viewer.

So, to all those hardware knowledgeable people - do I chance the Seagate diagnostics to remap the drive to not use the bad sectors, or am I doomed to failure with this drive. I don't particularly want to rebuild, although I do fortunately have a partition backup for the boot & system partition, so restoring to a new drive could be useful. Also, do I go for something like the new "Momentum" 7200 100GB Seagate laptop drives - not that I could find a UK distributor for these or is there something even faster? Big and fast is my only real criteria - if they did 500GB 15,000 RPM Ultra-320 SCSI hard disks for laptops, I'd be there like a shot, but sadly I'm stuck with ATA-100....

PS Make that 33 bad sectors now :-(

Comments
  • John,

    I would highly suggest that you get the drive replaced ASAP. Once a drive starts to show bad sectors it is on the road to full failure in a hurry and it seems like in your case you are on an accelerated path :-(
    The drive is more than likely under warranty as most have 3 yrs. on them. Get the manufacturer to replace it and then you have 2 options.
    1. Restore from the backups that you have.
    2. Try and ghost the current drive over to the replacement drive when it arrives.

    For the second option you'll need to get 2 adapters to allow you to connect your laptop drives to a desktop machine and use that as the conduit.

    Good luck

  • I'm afraid the hard drive is dying. You'd be best serverd to spend your time rebuilding on a different hard drive and be thankful you have such a recent backup. I've spent two and three days trying to rescue data from a device such as your Seagate only to end up having to rebuild without the data. Plus, it's real hard to fully bill for two days work without any data to show for it :~). Good luck!

  • Ouch! 6 months ago, I lost a 160 gig drive due to my swapping a power supply out. It decided that it just couldn't spin up. And by the time I was able to actually get it spun up, I still couldn't access the drive. The 80 gig boot drive got to the point where doing a POST regardless of hard or soft reset would tell me to backup my drive and replace it. I was able to grab another 80 gig drive and copy the partitions over, and it's not been a problem since.

    Now it's my understanding that the latest drives automagically remap questionable or bad sectors on their own. So once they start showing up, yeah, you're in trouble.

    I've been using a utility from Pantera Soft (http://www.panterasoft.com/) called HDD Health to see what is going on with my drives now.

    Personally, I'd replace the drive. ASAP, which is pretty much what I did with the 80 gig drive. Had I known about the 160 gig drive (via HDD Health or similar), I probably would have managed to at least get some essential data backed up out of that.

    And I know have a DVD burner for backups, not just my CD burner.

  • Well basically i have now lost 5 drives from the same system, ranging from Western Digital Raptors down to plain old Western digital 200gb drives. In total i have lost around 400GB of data. During my long hours of trying to save my data a product called PTDD from PTDD.com seems to be the best for recovery.

    The new drives are designed to die, plain and simple. My drivers where helped by a faulty powersuply, which you dont expect from a $600 Intel case.

    I think you need to replace the drive, probably try a Hitachi as they are really great. Samsung and Hitachi are the only drives that have not died.

  • Hi John,

    that drive is on its way out. A great utility to help keep your data is Spinrite from www.grc.com. This tool will do a thourough examination of your disk and remap out the bad sectors whilst moving data to reliable areas.

    Jeff

  • After my bad monday a few weeks ago with a corrupt hard disk, the good news is that I picked up...

  • As far as I know about how drives handle bad sectors: Each disk has a certain amount of "spare" sectors, probably spread out over the entire drive. These sectors are not included in the count for the total amount of available bytes on the drive, but they are used only in case a sector goed "bad". Even on a disk with no apparent bad sectors, "bad" sectors are usually present. They do not show up though, because those sectors are automatically remapped to nearby "spare" sectors.

    Only when a hard disk runs out of "spare" sectors (I suppose a bad sector can only be remapped to a spare sector that is physically not too far away from the bad sector) it will show up to the OS as a bad sector; since the firmware on the drive can't fix it, the OS has to know.

    Haven't done a search on this on the web, so I can't be certain that it actually works this way (or perhaps has once worked this way in older drives). I think it COULD work though; the overall picture looks OK to me.

    HtH,

    -Marijn

    p.s.: would it be possible to partition a drive in a way that all bad sector regions are located into tiny unused partitions (minimum partition size is 8mb or so I believe), and then you would merge the partitions into one big drive again by using some kind of raid scheme? Not sure if it's possible in windows, linux might be more flexible...

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