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Author Topic: Hard Drive Diagnostic Software  (Read 11559 times)
tinjaw
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« on: November 26, 2007, 07:23:09 AM »

Today an unfortunate event brought to light a gap in my knowledge. I knocked a 300 GB portable hard drive off of my desk and onto the carpeted floor. The drive shows up and I tried to use the built-in error-checking tool (scandisk) that is part of Windows XP but I get an error dialog about 75% of the way through.

Checking Disk (F:)
Windows was unable to complete the disk check.

I shut my laptop and the hard drive down and went to work. I started them both up here at work and got the same error.

I am aware of tools from the various hard drive manufacturers to diagnose the hard drive itself. These programs will tell me if I have any trouble with the hard drives, but will not tell me about any problems with the data that is on the drive. I need to know what files, if any, have been lost or damaged. I want to know if I need to reformat the drive and check for bad sectors.

I realized that I have always relied on Scandisk for this and I do not know of any alternatives. What software do you suggest I use?
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f0dder
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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2007, 07:40:14 AM »

Humm... drive vendor diagnostic tools typically will not work when the drive is attached via USB or FireWire, but requires you to attach via SATA or IDE - and typically only works when connected to the "main" IDE/SATA ports, not RAID ports etc...

The quick SMART scan typically doesn't tell you anything, or at least nothing you don't know (the one thing that is worth watching for is "reallocated sector count", nonzero means get rid of the drive... but you should have detected that because of clicking noises before seeing it on SMART stats).

If you run a full surface scan (could be called differently in the diagnostic tool), each sector of the drive should be checked, and afaik this will also kick in sector reallocation for bad sectors. Problem is, I dunno if you can get a list of the sectors that have been reallocated, and even if you did... I don't know a program that will tell you which files on the filesystem contain those sectors.

Sorry, this was a lot of text and not much help, I'm afraid :/
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2007, 07:48:28 AM »

While I detest Steve Gibson's hysterics sometimes, his SpinRite low-level disk scanner has brought some dead drives back to life for me.  Its not free, however: $89

Was the drive running when it fell to the floor?  If so the head might've crashed... that's pretty catastrophic.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2007, 08:18:26 AM »

f0dder, Ralf,

Thanks for the tips.

f0dder, I understand about the limitations of the USB connection, but I was already prepared to take it out of the case and put it in a sled and into a box with a drive bay to test it if need be.

Ralf, The head crashing was the first thing I thought about when I realized the drive had fallen. It was on, but 1) may have been in power-saver mode 2) the power cord was what I tripped on and it pulled the power from the drive, so that may also have caused the heads to go to park.

Outside of attempting to copy each file to another drive, can you think of any way to test all of the files on the drive? I also understand that just because the file copies, that doesn't mean it isn't damaged in some other manner.
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ChalkTrauma
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2007, 08:50:22 AM »

How about:

http://www.hdtune.com/

and

http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

I also bricked a eGo portable USB drive and used Knoppix to get it back, you can view my post here:

http://www.iomegasupportf...029&highlight=knoppix
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2007, 09:28:41 AM »

Also, take a peek at the system logs.  Might be some useful leads there as to why Windows barfs while running scandisk.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2007, 10:19:49 AM »

Also, take a peek at the system logs.  Might be some useful leads there as to why Windows barfs while running scandisk.
I don't know why I didn't think of that, but after looking, there was nothing there related to scandisk.
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f0dder
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2007, 05:21:32 PM »

Humm, it might be possible to write a trivial script to check which files have problems - iterate through the entire drive, and try reading each file entirely. On failure, spit out filename and move to next file. Would take a while, but would probably work... and should be trivial to hack together in, say, Python.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2007, 05:32:29 PM »

Dirty Trick f0dder! Like I don't already have enough to do and you throw out that obvious hook baited with Python! Shame on you.

Well, I sicked BeyondCompare and Super Flexible File Synchronizer on the the drive while at work. The news wasn't all that bad. First of all, I had forgotten that I had just started to use this drive and only had manged to fill up 26 GB of it so far. And it seems like there is one directory that is inaccessible, but that is just copies of some freeware and is easily replaced. I am going to go on the assumption that BC2 and SFFS are telling the truth and I copied everything besides that one directly successfully to another drive. Now I am going to do a full format of that drive and see what happens. Hopefully only a few bad sectors and I am good to go.

I still am looking for a program to use if scandisk can't do its job at some point in the future.
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f0dder
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2007, 05:55:22 PM »

Yeah, full format and then the manufacturer's diagnostics tool, and be sure to look for "remapped sector count" in SMART info.
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- carpe noctem
PhilB66
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2007, 07:58:31 PM »

CheckDisk (scroll Down) - (Download)

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tinjaw
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2007, 08:16:47 PM »

Thanks Phil. I will try it out and report back.
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kimmchii
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« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2007, 08:25:56 PM »

have you tried chkdsk?
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kimmchii
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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2007, 08:30:34 PM »

you can try speedfan too, click the "perform an in-depth online analysis...." button and see how many warning you get for smart data:

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tinjaw
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« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2007, 08:39:21 PM »

have you tried chkdsk?

kimmchii,

chkdsk was deprecated by scandisk. And I guess that I should say that I am using the GUI version found on the Tools tab and not the command line version of scandisk.

I don't have SpeedFan on the laptop, but I can check the SMART data via other means. I'll do that when I run the manufacturer's disk utility on it. SpeedFan is getting better and better all the time though. Good little utility.
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2007, 08:46:34 PM »

Despite chkdsk being superceded, I've found some issues chkdsk handles that scandisk won't -- and vice-versa.

chkdsk /r/f performs a full sector-by-sector scan of the whole disk surface; pack a lunch.

Oh, and tin, when you get around to formatting the volume... be sure and do a "full" format instead of a "quick" one, which assumes your bad sector table is up-to-date.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2007, 08:51:32 PM »

chkdsk /r/f performs a full sector-by-sector scan of the whole disk surface; pack a lunch.

Maybe I will let chkdsk /r/f run overnight before I do a format. Does that handle NTFS?

And yes on the full v quick, that I planned on.  Wink
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #17 on: November 26, 2007, 08:53:22 PM »

Maybe I will let chkdsk /r/f run overnight before I do a format. Does that handle NTFS?

Indeed it does.  Good hunting!
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kimmchii
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« Reply #18 on: November 26, 2007, 08:55:18 PM »

i suggest you run chkdsk without the switch first, it will finish in less than 30sec and you will know how is the overall health of the hdd, then run the full scan.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2007, 09:02:16 PM »

I got some hits
[copy or print]
...
File record segment 20072 is unreadable.
File record segment 20073 is unreadable.
File record segment 20074 is unreadable.
File record segment 20075 is unreadable.
...
100 percent completed.               File verification completed.

Errors found.  CHKDSK cannot continue in read-only mode.

Time to set up for scan on boot and reboot.
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f0dder
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« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2007, 05:34:36 AM »

Ummm, I thought that it was chkdsk that obsoleted scandisk? The last time I saw scandisk was on Win9x boxes smiley
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- carpe noctem
nosh
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« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2007, 06:14:13 AM »

MS used the same name for the utilities if I'm not mistaken. "chkdsk" can be traced back to the MS-DOS days and caused some serious problems in Win9x with utilities like Magic Folders that had a somewhat unconventional approach to the file system  (it whacked off all hidden folders in MF's case.  Grin )
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Ralf Maximus
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« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2007, 10:51:35 PM »

Time to set up for scan on boot and reboot.

So.....?
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tinjaw
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« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2007, 05:01:48 AM »

So.....?

When I rebooted, it started to perform the chkdsk, but on the C: drive. I went to bed. When I woke up Windows was booted and I can't tell if it even did a chkdsk on the external USB drive.

So I have shelved this until the weekend when I will put the drive in a sled and stick it in a box so it is connected to a proper IDE controller.
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f0dder
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« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2007, 06:41:31 AM »

When you schedule multiple boot-time CHKDSKs, they are all performed - although with all the trickeries of USB drives and reassigned letters, I dunno if there's a risk of that failing.

Shouldn't be necessary to do boot-time chkdsk of an external drive though, you should be able to do that under normal windows operation :-s
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