Hard disk bad sectors, IO errors- any remedy?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by aigle, May 21, 2013.

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  1. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    I have an external USB Seagate HD. It,s about 5-6 years old and all of a sudden it started to show bad sectors, with IO errors and I have lost some data that I had saved over it. It fails SeaTools and WG Hard Disk tests.

    What is the next course of action? Just discard it or there is any remedy?

    Thanks
     
  2. sdmod

    sdmod Shadow Defender Expert

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    If you value the data on the drive backup or clone to a new drive as soon as possible...don't hope for the best and leave it until it's too late. If the drive becomes noisy and you are losing data it's usually only a matter of time nefore it dies.
    You could look at Steve Gibson's Spinrite to try to fix your bad sectors but hardrives are not that expensive these days. I would go for for a new drive.
     
  3. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Thanks.

    I also read to do a deep format or writing zeros on hard drive.
     
  4. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Writing zeros on the disk is not a format (deep or otherwise). All formatting does is lay down the tracks and sectors where the zeros (and ones) are saved. If the disk was already formatted, reformatting does not overwrite the data. It just reports the space is available but the data is still there, and recoverable.

    You need to "wipe" the drive to ensure no recoverable data is left behind, though nothing is really wiped either. Instead, the wipe program writes a bunch of random (or nonsensical) 1s and 0s to every storage location on the drive several times, thus overwriting (the wipe) any of your previously saved data. I typically recommend Eraser – which uses DBAN for that, or CCleaner has an effective wipe drive feature too.

    But Eraser, DBAN, and CCleaner all need access to the disk to work and if the drive is so full of errors it will not let these programs have full access, they may not work and some personal data may still be recoverable by a very resourceful and determined badguy (with a very expensive forensic analysis laboratory) or a highly funded crime lab, or very expense (into the $1000s) independent data recovery services.

    For sure, since that drive is old, and because it failed the drive maker's own diagnostics, I would not trust that drive for anything and it should be discarded (not in the trash but electronics recycling bin). If you cannot get one of the wipe programs to complete, you may need to take drastic measures by drilling 3 holes through the drive about 3/4 to 1 inch out from the spindle.

    Badguys are opportunist and will not waste time or money on a physically destroyed drive - unless they are personally targeting you and believe the data is worth it. An unlikely scenario unless you are Maxwell Smart or 007. ;)
     
  5. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Thanks for your input. Drive is still very much accessible and I can read and write data to it. Only SeaTools and WesternDigital Diagnostics etc are failing on it with I/O errors. And i lost a good amount of stored data over it. So again my question is: Can it be used, even for unimportant data, to try Linux Distro booting from a USB external HD OR it must go to bin?

    Regarding destroying it, I don,t have any thing of utmost importance. I think I will not bother for physically destroying it or even erasing. BTW I don,t find any electronics recycling bins here!
     
  6. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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  7. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    o_O Sorry but I am not following you. How many more specialized diagnostics programs do you need to tell you the drive is unreliable? How many times losing a good amount of stored data does it take to convince you the drive is no good?
    So again my answer is, "because it failed the drive maker's own diagnostics, I would not trust that drive for anything and it should be discarded".

    Almost every community has an electronics recycling center for old TVs, computers and other electronics to keep hazardous wastes and precious metals out of our landfills. I would be surprised if where you are in Saudi Arabia does not have some sort of recycling center nearby.

    While low-level formatting still has its advantages in same rare cases, it will not fix any physical damage already on the disk nor will it fix anything with the drive's on-board controller. Bottom line, I would not trust that disk to save my own phone number.
     
  8. Kerodo

    Kerodo Registered Member

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    Yeah, I would have to agree with you on that. The drive can't be trusted. And nowadays, the prices of external usb drives are pretty reasonable...
     
  9. EASTER

    EASTER Registered Member

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    Hi Aigle

    I went thru something similar before with a couple of IDE drives that were Western Digital. The most disturbing part of one of those (500gb) was that it housed our beloved FD-ISR and i had something on the order of 10 bootable snapshots with lots of stored data. I also experienced I/O errors but could still boot to some of them but not the main snapshot that stored useful data.

    With no choice left i used a separate disk on different IDE channel and proceeded to copy over as much useable saved data as possible and snapshots.

    Xyployer was able to see (unhide) valid files. I used file recovery software but since this disc had been partitioned and reinstalled so much that didn't yield very much recoverable data.

    Once you pull the files you are able to recover then use some newer file recovery apps because they have improved in non destructive methods to rescue files then ever before.

    After i completely wipe my malfunctioned drive, i reinstalled XP and it did ok for a few weeks but before long the same I/O errors returned. The drive obviously had reached its limit so that was it for me.

    However. You raise a worthwhile Alternative, something i didn't do, and that's use it to boot a live Linux Distro. or even try and see if you can install it. If Linux runs without problems at least untilled that drive grinds to a screeching halt, you can use it sparingly to determine how long it lasts. Experimentally speaking of course.

    Best of luck and sorry about that drive. I know the frustration.

    Regards EASTER
     
  10. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. Time to get a new external with USB 3.
    I got the lesson, you can,t trust a single backup. For future I am going to keep one extra backup in the cloud for the most important data. Time to use free ADrive account.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2013
  11. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    ok, I got it. For the bin I need to look for it again.
    Thanks
     
  12. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    We abuse our environment enough with things that are hard and expensive to control. Where we toss our electronics trash is something we can easily control with little effort.

    Thanks.

    Well, that might be a good lesson too, but the real lesson here is you can't trust a single hard drive to keep your data safe, and especially can't trust a drive with recurring errors.
     
  13. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    Personally, I like to archive things i do not use so I don't fill my laptop HD.
    For that i use 2 external disks.
    For my backup, only one disk (which means 2 copies of everything).

    That's pretty much how i set up things for now.
     
  14. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    Backup all your data as soon as possible. :D
    I had one HDD that started to give me problems, sometimes the OS would not read the disk, 0 byte files, IO errors and 2 months later . . . it failed. Luckily i backed up the data long before that happened.
     
  15. Keatah

    Keatah Registered Member

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    To answer the OP's original question directly and simply:

    1- Once a disk develops errors (more than one sector) it is time to trash it. These things are dirt cheap, and you'll spend more time trying to "fix" them several times over than what they're worth.

    2- You may try to recover data, you might get lucky via imaging. But if you really value your data it is time to check with a pro services. They have tools and techniques you do not.

    3- Backups are king. And two additional copies of important and irreplaceable data is a good idea.
     
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