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Windows 7: How can I be sure a hard drive is really dying?

06 Apr 2013   #1
OvenMaster

Win7 Pro 32bit; Zorin OS 9 Core (in VM)
 
 
How can I be sure a hard drive is really dying?

A few months ago I was switching back and forth between AHCI and IDE with the BIOS and Registry fixes.

During that time, between testing and crude benchmarking, I tried saving a MS Works 6 .xls spreadsheet file and got "File does not exist", and I also lost two Macrium Reflect boot drive images on a five year old Seagate 7200.10 320GB IDE drive (model ST3320620A)

CHKDSK /R, HD Tune and SeaTools tests showed zero errors. Defraggler's S.M.A.R.T. readout said 0 reallocated sectors. Out of caution I moved the data off the drive and took it out of my rig.

If the drive passed all tests, how else can I tell if the drive is still in good shape and usable?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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06 Apr 2013   #2
marsmimar

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 
 

I don't think you can tell with 100% assurance that a drive is good or bad. Sometimes drives fail with absolutely no warning. Other times you may have some warning signs (strange noises, perfomance issues, etc) and the drive may just keep on working. This article gives some info about warning signs for hard drive failure.

HowStuffWorks "Signs of Hard Drive Failure"

My personal suggestion is to create system images on a regular basis. I use the native Windows 7 imaging tool, Macrium free, and Paragon free and each one is assigned to its own external hard drive. Also, my personal policy is to immediately replace a hard drive as soon as it exhibits any warning signs of failure. I might put the drive in an enclosure and use it for non-critical data storage or if it's really acting up, just toss it after wiping it clean with DBAN.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Apr 2013   #3
LMiller7

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit
 
 

When a drive fails a test for detectable issues you can be quite sure it is bad. But when a drive passes all tests you cannot be certain it is good. As the drive is 5 years old and you have lost data I would tend towards caution and replace the drive.

Even new drives that have passed all tests can fail. About 10 years ago I had a 40 GB drive a few years old. One day it was working fine, the next day it wasn't even detected by the BIOS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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06 Apr 2013   #4
essenbe
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint
 
 

I agree with the above. Marsmimar is absolutely correct, you can never be 100% sure about any drive, regardless of the age. My rule #1: Never trust any hard drive. Keep important data on different external hard drives and backup regularly to different external hard drives. Also, use imaging programs, but do not trust just 1. Use several. Even the best imaging programs can fail occasionally. Keep images on different external drives. The next time you do a clean install, after all updates, make images with several programs on different hard drives. You will never have to do a clean install again. You can just restore one of those images.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Apr 2013   #5
OvenMaster

Win7 Pro 32bit; Zorin OS 9 Core (in VM)
 
 

Okay, thanks everyone. I've been really lucky with drives for the past 12 years and never before had any data loss.
This also tells me that all my future drive purchases will be WD's.
After I whack the Seagate with a sledgehammer (always wanted to do that to a drive...), it's off to the trash.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Apr 2013   #6
Britton30
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

take it apart and save the powerful magnets from the HDD, they're fun to "play" with.

As a note, I've had two drives fail in 17 or so years, both were WDs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2013   #7
OvenMaster

Win7 Pro 32bit; Zorin OS 9 Core (in VM)
 
 

I've been stewing over this for months and I've decided to actually do something about it.

I took all the files off the known-good 80GB drive that's been in there, and put them on another drive.
I then reinstalled the questionable 320GB drive.
I am formatting it from scratch and I am going to subject this thing to every darn test I can think of. CHKDSK /R, HDD-Scan, HD-Tune, Eraser with 7 passes, SeaTools. Any problems, into the trash it goes.
If it passes all the tests, i will copy the files to this drive again and use it like I used to. Any file written to this drive will be also written to the folder on another drive. Same goes for erased and deleted files.
Daily I am going to keep a multi-column spreadsheet with entries showing how much data is on the drive and the folder, down to the last byte.
If there is even ONE byte difference between the folder and the iffy drive, the iffy 320GB drive gets canned without a second thought. One or two months of this should flush out any problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jun 2013   #8
OvenMaster

Win7 Pro 32bit; Zorin OS 9 Core (in VM)
 
 

Okay, I think the Seagate 320GB drive really is faulty.
I've had it on my new mobo since Sunday and occasionally it isn't detected in the POST, yet shows up in Windows Explorer.
Today it was detected in the POST, but after boot, data transfer to another HDD was only 14-15MB/sec.
Device Manager said it was operating in Multiword DMA Mode 2, not Ultra DMA Mode 5.
I'll erase the contents and toss it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jun 2013   #9
Britton30
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

Smart move I think. let us know if any issues.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jun 2013   #10
anutter223

Dual Boot Windows 7 Ultimate x64 & Windows 8 Pro With WMC x64
 
 
taking apart hdd

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Britton30 View Post
take it apart and save the powerful magnets from the HDD, they're fun to "play" with.

As a note, I've had two drives fail in 17 or so years, both were WDs.

you never want to take a hdd apart if you dont know the torque settings on the screws!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

also you can kinda tell if one is failing if you hear a clicking in it or chirping.


i just got done working on a laptop with a failing hdd

the hdd would chirp and screen will freeze after a few days it had COD ( Clicking Of Death ) and never worked since.

so like all the others said you can never be 100% sure if a hdd fails but chirping and clicking are 2 symptona of failing
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 How can I be sure a hard drive is really dying?




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