Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Can I always retrieve back the folders and files on a hard disk that contains bad sectors? As far as I know bad sectors do spread, and it can cost your OS unable to bootup if the bad sectors are in the OS drive. But whether it will spread to a situation whereby it's totally unable to retrieve any files and folders or not is something I don't know...

share|improve this question

The first thing to do is to image your drive to a new one, so you're not working on the bad copy. GNU ddrescue is good for this, because it copes with bad sectors.

Once you've run that, depending how badly the image is damaged, you might be able to pull files of from a liveCD (Knoppix, for example); or you might have to use a specialist tool. The data recovery guy I work with swears by GetDataBack (NTFS version, in your case), it's not free, but if it can pull of your data, it's a worthwhile investment, as this may happen again sometime..

If this is business critical data, don't try yourself - take it to a professional.

share|improve this answer
+1 for "if it's critical data, don't try this at home" – Piskvor Jul 29 '09 at 21:19

From pavsaund's comment on my answer to your other question:

scan disk + check disk can help extend the lifetime of the disk by fixing and recovering files.

If no other changes have been made to the disk (beyond marking the bad sectors) you might be able to get the data back.

There are other data recovery tools but I haven't had to use any so I can't recommend one. A Google search for "data recovery software" shows that there are a lot of products out there.

share|improve this answer

I've tried to recover files that were already partially overwritten or in a bad condition.

My guess would be that if files are (partially) in a bad sector, the recovering software will have a hard time retrieving the files in a perfect state. Meaning they will probably be corrupted.

All I could find so far to do anything about bad sectors would be a low level format, but that would also erase the data... Though perhaps it's more important that you fix the bad sector than retrieve the files on the disk.

share|improve this answer

SpinRite is probably the best tool I've used for doing this sort of thing. Regarding data recovery, the website has this to say:

DynaStat data recovery technology performs deep statistical analysis upon unreadable sectors to recover all or most sector data. Where other utilities give up, SpinRite's DynaStat recovers every last bit of data. See the Data Recovery page for further information.

Check out the SpinRite testimonials page for further praise of this tool.

share|improve this answer
I don't like their marketing-speak, especially "no other utility does this claim". How would they know unless they surveyed all other available utilities often and missed none? – dbkk101 Jul 26 '09 at 17:12
Yeah, it may sound like hollow "marketing-speak", but Steve Gibson of Gibson Research, creator of SpinRite, is not the sort of guy to make false claims. He's a really down-to-earth old-school coder (he programs in assembly!) who has been around for years. He's also co-host of the Security Now podcast. If you can't trust Steve, you really can't trust anyone. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he really had surveyed all other utilities in great depth. – Charles Roper Jul 26 '09 at 17:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.