How To Prevent Bad Sectors in your hard disk

[Tips] How to Prevent Bad Sectors in Hard Disk

18 Tips How to Prevent Bad Sectors in Hard Disk

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

Definition

A bad sector on a hard disk is simply a tiny cluster of storage space — a sector — of the hard drive that appears to be defective. The sector won’t respond to read or write requests.

Bad sectors can occur on both traditional magnetic hard drives and modern solid-state drives. There are two types of bad sectors — one resulting from physical damage that can’t be repaired, and one resulting from software errors that can be fixed.

Types of Bad Sectors

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

There are two types of bad sectors — often divided into “physical” and “logical” bad sectors or “hard” and “soft” bad sectors.

Physical Bad Sectors

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

A type of bad sector in hard disk that is physically damaged, and neither the Operating System nor the disk controller can access them. Any kind of read and write operation won’t be able to help. There are only a few chances that your hard drive will develop physical bad sectors and we will tackle here on how we will prevent them.

These types of bad clusters may develop when hard drives are manufactured.

As you may know, there are millions of sectors on a hard drive (even billions, depending upon the storage size of it), checking each sector on a hard drive for bad sectors and resolving the issues with the area having bad sectors is not only time consuming but unwieldy as well.

For this reason, bad sectors are mapped out using numerous translator algorithms. It must be noted that physical bad sectors cannot be repaired. They can only be mapped out of hard drive via specialized low-level disk repairing utilities. Once mapped out, the disk controller or operating system doesn’t attempt to access those sectors for reading and writing data. Since physical bad sectors can’t be mapped out using conventional hard disk diagnostic and repair utilities, it’s recommended to buy a new hard drive, and send the hard disk with physical bad sectors to its manufacturer for recovering data from usable sectors.

Causes of Physical Bad Sectors

On a traditional magnetic hard drive, bad sectors can be caused by physical damage.

It can be a manufacturing error— your hard drive may have shipped from the factory with bad sectors. Modern manufacturing techniques aren’t perfect—no one is. Natural wear may have worn part of the hard drive down as well. Dropping the hard drive is another reason—causing the hard drive’s head to touch the platter and damage some of the sectors.

Dust and air can also be a cause.

Logical Bad Sectors

Unlike physical bad sectors, logical or soft bad sectors may develop on hard drives on account of many reasons. It is a cluster of storage on the hard drive that appears to not be working properly. The logical bad sector is a sector that suddenly becomes inaccessible to a disk controller software or OS. When an OS attempts to read/write data to logical bad sector, it takes quite a long time to complete the requested operation, and even if the process gets completed with no apparent issues, users face problems while reading the data written on logical bad sectors. These may be marked as bad sectors but can be repaired by overwriting the drive with zeros — or, in the old days, performing a low-level format. Windows’ Disk Check tool can also improve such bad sectors.

Unlike physical bad sectors, this type of bad sector is totally repairable.

There is a wide range of hard disk repairing utilities available out there that can detect the areas with bad sectors and attempt to repair them.

When logical bad sectors are repaired, users can read and write data to the area of the hard drive where logical bad sectors existed. There are various reasons for the occurrence of logical bad sectors on the hard drive, including virus/malware infection, improper shutdown, use of low-level disk format utility and more. A logical bad sector may also develop on a hard drive when a user attempts to save the recovered data from the drive where it’s being read from.

Causes of Logical Bad Sectors

Most of them are caused by software issues. For example, if your computer suddenly shuts off due to a power outage or a pulled power cable, it’s possible that the hard drive may have shut off in the middle of writing to a sector.

Viruses and malware can also cause logical bad sectors.

In some cases, it’s possible for sectors on the hard drive to contain data that doesn’t match their error-correction code — this would be marked as a bad sector.

How to Check Your Hard Disk for Bad Sectors (Windows 10)

Windows 10 comes with a built-in disk tool to scan the disk for discrepancies and especially bad sectors. This tool also claims to repair the logical bad sectors via deep, thorough scan mode. While attempting to repair the bad sectors, it may ask you to reboot the PC to check those portions of the hard disk which are not used while Windows is running. Furthermore, it needs complete access to your PC, and therefore, can automatically quit any on-going process.

Bad sector repair in Windows 10 using Windows built-in tool.

Step 1. Open This PC, right-click on your hard drive and choose Properties.

Step 2. Go to Tools, and then click Check

Step 3. Click Scan Drive

Step 4. Choose when to repair the file system. Wait for Windows 10 scan and repair the hard drive bad sectors.

Run Chkdsk /f in Windows 10 for bad sector

System File Checker (SFC) is a utility in Windows that allows users to scan for corruptions in Windows system files and restore corrupted files. This tool can also scan every sector on a disk volume looking for the bad sector. Let’s see how to remove the bad sector from hard disk using CMD.

On Windows 10, you can run a disk check using Command Prompt.

Step 1: In Start, type cmd, right-click it and select Run as administrator

Step 2: type sfc /scannow

Step 3: (if there are errors) chkdsk c: /f /r

  • sfc /scannow
  • chkdsk c: /f /r (fix errors and recover data as possible)
  • bootrec /fixmbr
  • bootrec /fixboot
  • bootrec /scanos
  • bootrec /rebuildbcd

Check Disk offers a limited set of disks repairing mechanisms, and hence, you can’t rely upon it.

After it successfully repairs all the bad sectors on the hard drive, you should check each disk partition for potential read and write issues via a third-party disk utility. There is a lot of it online, and most of them are free.

Data Loss and Hard Drive Failure

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

Data stored in Hard Drives are critical, especially if they are for your business.

The reality of bad sectors brings home a distressing fact — even if your hard drive is otherwise working properly, it’s possible for a bad sector to develop and corrupt some of your data.

This is another reason why you should always back up your data — multiple copies are the only thing that will prevent bad sectors and other issues from ruining your hard drive’s data.

Read: How to Make Your Computer/Laptop Faster [Helpful Tips and Tricks]

18 Tips on How to Prevent Bad Sectors in Hard Disks

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

1. Handle your hard disk with care.

The HDD may be mostly made of metal, but you have to handle them like eggs. 

2. Never move your PC while it is on. Never.

Shutdown. Shutoff. Move the PC. Then turn it on.

3. Do not put anything on top of your HDD.

If you’re going to store it, make sure they are in proper packaging (anti-static bags and clamshells or styrofoam boxes).

4. Only hold or handle your HDDs by their edges.

Never touch the printed circuit boards or electronic parts.

5. Always use anti-static bags for your HDD

6. When mounting HDDs use the proper screws.

Use coarse thread and shorter screws as opposed to the screws for CDROM drives and Floppy Drives, which are a fine thread, and the case screws which are coarse thread but longer.

7. Use as many screws to mount your HDD as possible.

The usual screws used are four, some techs will use only three, but there are also HDDs mounted using only one screw. The four screws will ensure proper heat transfer from the HDD to the case and will handle the vibration properly.

8. Tighten but not over tighten the screws.

Your screws are steel; the HDD case is aluminum, you endanger or damaging the thread in you HDD if you tightened it too much

9. You may mount the HDD in any way.

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

You may mount it in level, un-level, upwards, downwards, or vertical whatever it takes to make it fit your casing. There will be no problem performance-wise. But keep in mind, in the future (let’s say two years), you have to unmount and reinstall the HDD in a configuration the same way to what it has been accustomed to. For example, if you vertically mounted it for two years, then do it that way.

10. Keep your HDD’s cool.

Blow fans on them, use coolers. At the very least, make sure your casing is adequately ventilated. Heat shortens the life of HDDs. But Choose carefully on what fans you will use, choose the fan which produces less vibration.

11. Properly connected cables.

Make sure your cables are good and connected correctly.

12. Right Power Supply

Make sure your power supply is up to snuff. This is where most HDDs fail after serving you for a long time. Low 12-volt rails kill HDD motors. Bad 5V kill HDD electronics.

13. Power connectors.

Make sure your power connectors (those white plugs with yellow, black, and red wires) fit well. Loose connectors provide lousy power. After running your PC for a while, say 15-30 minutes, touch your connectors, if they are hot, then if there’s something loose, replace with a spare connector and label the bad connector. If you do system checkups, it is good to take note of heat discoloration on power connectors and replace those bad ones;

14. Blackouts do not just kill lights; they kill HDDs.

Blackouts are sometimes accompanied by bad power spikes and deadly voltage fluctuations. If you can afford a good UPS, buy one.

15. Properly transfer the HDD.

When transferring HDDs between systems, don’t just take it and install it into another and voila! Done.  Please make sure you get into BIOS first and make sure that your new system is set to auto. If your old system detected the HDD using manual or non-standard parameters, then duplicate the parameters first in BIOS in the new system before booting up. You might mix up all your data if your new system tries to read the HDD using the wrong parameters.

16. If you use your PC a lot, defrag your partitions once a month.

If not, defrag once every three months will be fine. For those of you who think that defragmentation speeds up your HDD’s death, that’s not entirely true. If your partition is quite fragmented, your HDD will be doing a lot of unnecessary work by default. It will be going back and forth, trying to get to the different parts of your files scattered all over your disk. Besides, with a defragmented disk, you will have a more responsive PC.

17. Install enough RAM.

How To Prevent Bad Sectors In Hard Disk

You don’t want your HDD swapping files back and forth from system RAM and the swap file. Lots of work for the HDD making a slower PC.

18. Partition your HDD.

At least two partitions. One partition for your Operating System. The other one for your data. This way, if your OS gets corrupted (and it happens), you don’t have to perform PC acrobatics to get your data back. You can reformat your OS partition and be assured that your data is safe in a separate partition.

Conclusion

Bad sectors are just a reality of hard disks, and there’s generally no reason to panic when you encounter one. However, you should always have backups of your important files just in case a freak bad sector strikes — and do all the tips we’ve shared to prevent bad sectors in your hard disks.  

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