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How long do hard drives actually live for?

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@SeraphimLabs: Have you ever tried restoring/recovering hard drives or SSDs using Spinrite?

@SeraphimLabs: Have you ever tried restoring/recovering hard drives or SSDs using Spinrite?
-IainB (November 26, 2013, 05:08 PM)
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Did somebody say Spinrite? comes f0dder!  ;D

I was looking for a review of Spinrite on the DC Forum - an actual "use case" - but couldn't find one.
Sure, some positive comments from some people, and mostly negative comments from @f0dder, but not exactly good "reviewer" reports.
You can't establish by hearsay, opinion poll or argument whether a software tool performs its allotted task properly. You need some hard facts first - so, in the absence of a review, I usually do a "suck-it-and-see".

I searched various forums on the Internet to see who had tried Spinrite out and what problems they had, and decided I should give it a whirl. So I bought a copy.
My notes from this trial:
2013-11-22 1039hrs: After a great deal of trouble, finally created a Spinrite CD:
Could only do it on an imation DVD-R 16X4.7GB 2hr DVD.
Had to format it first.
Then used Easy Burner (Free) to write the Spinrite .iso file to the DVD.

When I booted and ran the Spinrite disc at boot, the first time, nothing happened, then the second time it worked (started to load the DOS), but stopped quickly with this error (this was consistently repeatable):

Invalid Opcode at FFFE 059D 3006 00E2 96D5 0008 0000 96D5 0000 6244 0B63 6218 96D5

Did a search for: "spinrite -InitDiskInvalid Opcode" and came up with lots of stuff  - e.g., "How to Fix Invalid Opcode Error in SpinRite".
Several people had found that:
...go into the BIOS, to the SATA mode setting, and change it from IDE to AHCI.  When I did this and then booted SpinRite again, I noticed that a bunch of the drive fields (hardware addrs, hardware irq, etc) were now listed as "unknown", but SpinRite was able to scan the disk now.

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Essentially, the various comments on this indicated that, if you could get at the drive's BIOS settings and tweak them experimentally, then the Invalid Opcode would not occur, and Spinrite would be able to scan the disk.
However, in my case, though the user is able get into the BIOS (no problem), there is no facility to access/tweak the BIOS settings for the hard drive, so I never got to find out for myself whether Spinrite could do its stuff as documented.
So I shall ask for my money back - not because the product is "no good" (I don't know that), but because it couldn't run on the drive I had specifically wanted to use it on.

That is why I asked:
@SeraphimLabs: Have you ever tried restoring/recovering hard drives or SSDs using Spinrite?
-IainB (November 26, 2013, 05:08 PM)
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I am genuinely interested to know. What the Spinrite author says when describing what his software does actually makes a lot of sense to me - at least, I think I understood what he was talking about - and though hard drive manufacturers have definitely upped their game by building in "self-healing" functionality (auto-copy of data from bad sectors to spare sectors), Spinrite apparently not only uses that technology but also does something that the hard drive manufacturers do not.
As I understand it, Spinrite tries to force the disk surface in the bad sectors to get back to full magnetic strength by persistently reading and writing and may even do a reverse polarity write to the drive's surface. It also persists in reading bad sector data by having the read head come in from multiple different directions to perform the read, until it gets a parity check (a good read).
Whether that forcing makes for a permanently reusable disk surface in that formerly "bad" sector is unknown, but it would presumably have to help.
Of course, if it is the drive armatures/mechanisms that are failing, then, as @f0dder seems to suggest, all that extra reading/writing could "overstress" the drive and make it fail real quick, so taking an image of the drive could be good risk-avoidance.
In my case, because of the SMART errors reported by HDS, I knew it was bad sectors, and the drive's performance was still 100%.

Stoic Joker: comes f0dder!-40hz (November 26, 2013, 05:32 PM)
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Where did he get off to? I haven't seen him in forever.

I have used it before on an experimental basis to see what it could do when turned loose on an aging drive, but it was a benchtop drive and not one of my good ones. Didn't really do enough with it to tell you about how it works, other than that it is a very time consuming process.

My last round of hard drive data recovery was done using dd-rescue, which returns a drive image that can be then re-cast back onto a new drive.


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