At some point, we have all found bad sectors in our hard drive. Bad sectors? What?
Yes, you read that right. A common computer problem, which we will deal with in depth, right now.
What is a bad sector? This is certainly the first question we should ask. After getting to know how they work, we will find the remedies and tell you how to fix the bad sector. This is a simple process where we can give maintenance to our computer so things keep running like they did on the first day. How to do this? Keep reading
What is a bad sector?
Hard drives don’t function sequentially; on the contrary, they work with very obvious-to-the-user bit ‘clusters’. These clusters are called sectors, and it is here where the system saves data.
This is a diagram of a sector inside of the hard drive.
When the hard drive tries to read or write on one of these sectors, and gets an error ‘answer’ it means that the sector is faulty. In other words, there is something that doesn’t work. What is it? There are two types of failures:
- Logical failure: when it’s a software error. Generally this is caused when the sector can’t be accessed (or its wrongly routed), making it unusable.
- Physical failure: when it’s a hardware error. This is the most serious problem, as a large part of the storage is lost; a scratch on the disk due to a strong blow usually causes this.
Both can result in loss of information, the first has a simple solution whilst the second one doesn’t even have one. So now that we know this, how can we find out if our hard drive has a bad sector?
How to know if my hard drive has a bad sector?
A long time ago Microsoft developed an application called Check Disk (chkdsk), which, by running the program, allows us to monitor the disc and get a simple disc status. Among other functions, it checks to see if there are any bad sectors.
Even though the usual thing would be to run chkdsk through the command-line interface (cmd.exe), Microsoft Windows has a graphic user interface to check for disk errors in a much more natural and intuitive way. The way in which it shows up will depend on the version we run, but the aim is the same:
- Open File Manager
- Right click on the unit you want to analyze (e.g. Local Disk C:) à Properties
- Click on the Tools tab
Click on Check now…
After this we follow the steps indicated by the program.
First of all we must talk about S.M.A.R.T. technology, which has been built into virtually all current hard disks, and which allows the disc to monitor itself in various categories for any possible errors. If it finds them, depending on the type of error, it will even ‘self-fix’ without notifying the user, in a completely automatic and translucent way. There is, however, the possibility that S.M.A.R.T. won’t detect all the errors, for which we have these other alternatives. Lets continue.
If Windows found mistakes, the steps to take to solve the problems will show up in same window where the information was provided. This is a simple, quick and straightforward way to do it, and just like there are options for Windows, there are options for Linux and for OS X.
Another option to fix bad sectors is much more aggressive, and involves what is known as overwriting with zeroes or full format; this consists of formatting the drive much more intensively than usual.
The simplest way of ‘formatting’ a hard drive is by deleting the sector’s location, where the information is stored. This will cause a loss of access but keep the data; formatting by overwriting with zeroes or low-level format will reset all of the hard drive data, absolutely everything, including the memory routes and any other traces. This will recover bad sectors and can be done through various tools such as Lowvel or HDD LLF, amongst many (many!) others.
The bad thing is that after formatting the disk we have to start from scratch and reinstall the system and all of our applications. As mentioned, this is the most aggressive solution, but also the one that best ensures right disc performance.
Remember, if this process seems too complicated, you can always contact 911-computer.com and we will visit you to diagnose and repair your hard drive. We work in The Woodlands, Houston, Spring and surrounding areas. Contact Us!