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How to repair bad sectors on hard drive: 3 ways
Written by: Ilia
Data recovery specialist, guest author, journalist.
What are bad blocks
An unreliable or unreadable sector of an HDD is usually called a bad sector or a bad block. The more bad blocks you have, the worse and slower your storage device operates. When there are more bad sectors than allows the amount stated by the manufacturer, a hard drive stops working. You can prevent damage by carrying out special software "treatment" of your computer from time to time.
Where does bad blocks come from
You can find bad sectors even on new non-used hard drives. Moreover, they don't have to be sectors unavailable for reading/writing information by default, sometimes potential bad sectors are label as "non-operational". Thus, the manufacturer and SMART software module prevent the damage of user's data recorded on "unstable" sectors.
Apart from the factory ones, in HDD defect list you can also find storage device sectors with physical and logical, as well as upcoming defects.
Among physical defects are:
- mechanical damage,
- servo marks destruction,
- mechanics and electronics hardware failures.
To logical defects belong:
- failure of check sum due to read/write errors,
- destruction of sector headers under the influence of neighboring electronics magnetic field.
Sectors potentially dangerous in regards to errors are called upcoming.
3 proven ways of how to
fix bad sectors on an HDD
HDD Regenerator simultaneously works with the software and hardware part of a storage device which makes it possible to significantly prolong your hard disk drive lifetime with a minimum reduction of its volume. In order to be able to repair bad blocks, you have to perform an analysis:
- In "Regeneration" tab select the first item "Start process under Windows".
- Close all the running apps so to allow the utility to access all the HDD sectors.
- If an access error occurs, click "Cancel".
- In the opened console window select the second mode (enter "2" and press "Enter") and perform a check from scratch, i.e. do not change the proposed start value.
Upon the completion of scanning HDD Regenerator displays a report with two important points: Bad sectors founded and Bad sectors recovered.
In order to repair bad sectors, you have to go through the mentioned above steps once again with the only difference: select the first item — "Check and recover bad blocks". We suggest you performing it in Windows safe mode.
VictoriaHDD operates on the same principle, but this utility has more features, though the users who have faced this problem for the first time will find its interface more complicated. The first difficulty lies in the need to create a bootable flash drive with "Victoria". Which can easily be done via the utility WinSetupFromUSB.
You'll have to slightly change BIOS settings in order to download from a flash drive:
- In "Main" section select "SATA Mode" and assign "IDE" value to it.
- After the changes are made you must save them and restart your computer, in the majority of BIOS you have to press F10 and confirm your intentions.
You can repair bad blocks via VictoriaHDD in the following way:
- Boot from a flash drive using the utility.
- When the downloading is complete, select a port (press P button on the keyboard) and click "Ext". PCI ATA / SATA for SATA or IDE for a hard drive with corresponding connection interface.
- Press "F4" in order to activate BB mode: Erase 256 sect.
Note! After detecting a bad block the program tries to recover it, but instead it erases all the information stored on the sector, so you MUST create a backup copy of all the files before proceeding to checking!
- When it's done, repeat the process in BB mode: Classic REMAP are sectors which can't be repaired so they will be transferred to the backup area, thus slightly speeding up the operation of your HDD.
After using "Victoria" you have to load into Windows and find "Properties – Tools – Check – Scan drive" in the local drive properties.
Windows built-in utility CHKDSK is another option to work with bad sectors for those who want the process to be easy and simple. In order to start scanning and recovery in an ordinary way:
- Type CHKDSK [disk path, for example, C:] /F /R in the command prompt.
- Press "Enter" and wait for the utility to check everything stored on your HDD.
- Restart your computer.
CHKDSK can't repair
hard drive bad sectors unlike HDD Regenerator and VictoriaHDD can. It can only detect them and mark with flags. The system takes the marked sectors as faulty ones and doesn't attempt to read/write information onto them. But it's better to run CHKDSK at least from time to time than do nothing at all to prevent the spread of bad sectors.
Obviously there is no program that can fix mechanical damage. Even logical failures can't always be repaired. Therefore, you shouldn't think that programs designed for repairing bad sectors will always save you and treat them as tools able to prolong the operation time of your hard disk forever. Consider them as software which can prevent problems occurring after extensive use of an HDD.