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I was trying to partition my hard drive to install windows 7 without losing data, but I thought the process had locked up so I stopped it and restarted my computer. I tried again and it worked, but when I went to install win7, the computer started saying my hard drive was bad, and so did diagnostic tools. I wasn't having this problem just earlier that same day.

Been using the drive like this just fine for a month now, with the partitions remerged, but everything still says the drive is bad. I'm thinking about reformatting before I decide to just buy a new hard drive. Is this likely to work? My hard drive is a spinpoint F3 1TB.

Note: when I was partitioning, this drive had been my secondary storage drive. I was partitioning because I was making it my primary drive in a new build that day, but didn't want to lose data as I had no external to hold 350 gigs of data.


I've tried Seatools and CrystalDiskInfo. Here is the screenshot from CrystalDiskInfo: enter image description here

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What is "everything" ? How do you know it is bad? Are you sure cables are well? – ZaB Mar 8 '12 at 0:30
Seatools, and CrystalDiskInfo. I have checked the cables, everything seems fine there. The drive is functioning completely normally and has been for a month. Here's a screen of the results from CrystalDiskInfo: – Josh Mar 8 '12 at 0:34
Are you well with Linux and command line or you need windows tools? For me it would be easier to instruct you to rewrite disk to inhibit sector relocation using Linux. – ZaB Mar 9 '12 at 9:41
up vote 1 down vote accepted

No, interrupting the partitioning process probably didn't cause the hard drive to become bad. However, if you were using a utility to resize the partitions, a lot of data would have gotten shuffled around, and in the process some previously-unreported bad sectors could have been discovered.

It may be the case that the hard drive was failing already and that's why it originally seemed like the repartitioning process had locked up.

You should try running SMART diagnostics on the drive. If you don't have another computer you can plug it into, you can boot off an Ubuntu Live CD. First, unplug any other hard drives, then open a terminal and type the following:

sudo bash
apt-get install smartmontools
smartctl -a /dev/sda

Check the Reallocated Sector Count. If the raw value is greater than zero, the hard drive has already started failing and would be a ticking timebomb if you were to continue using it. If this is the case, you should replace it, especially if it's still under warranty.

Hard drives do have a certain number of "spare" sectors which will be used to automatically replace bad sectors, and once the spare sectors run out, chkdsk (on Windows) or badblocks (on Linux) will start to report bad sectors. Although it has generally been considered okay to have a few reallocated sectors, you may also notice increasingly worse disk performance as more and more sectors are reallocated.

Update: based on your SMART diagnostics, I'd recommend replacing the drive. If you want to use it anyway, I'd at least recommend checking the power supply and the power and data cables. Then I'd image the drive, do a full read/write test, and run the SMART diagnostics again before putting it back in service. But even then, I still wouldn't trust it.

To do a thorough disk surface test, follow the instructions below. (WARNING: this will destroy all data on the drive!) Alternatively, you can do a chkdsk /r in Windows, but that won't be quite as thorough. Note that this will not reset the drive's SMART data. You will have to check with the drive manufacturer to see whether they have made any tools available to consumers which will do this. (My guess would be no, since unscrupulous fellows could then sell defective hard drives that look like new, perfect drives, according to the SMART data.)

  1. Remove all other hard drives, flash drives, etc. (So you only have the goofy hard drive and the CD/DVD drive)
  2. Boot off an Ubuntu Live CD
  3. Open a terminal and type this command (you'll probably want to let it run overnight): badblocks -wvs /dev/sda
  4. After badblocks finishes, run your SMART diagnostics again and compare with the previous values.

The badblocks command listed above will make four passes, writing and reading each of the following patterns: 10101010, 01010101, 11111111, and 00000000--leaving it completely zeroed in the end. Afterward, you will need to partition and format the drive.

Again, because of the high read error rate reported by the SMART diagnostics, I still wouldn't trust the drive to reliably store anything that can't be easily restored or reproduced.

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Well, one of the diagnostic tools I used was CrystalDiskInfo. I'm going to see about getting a bootable CD for diagnostics, but here's an image of what crystaldiskinfo said. The numbers seem a bit extreme considering how well it seems to be working, but this program may be reliable? – Josh Mar 8 '12 at 0:28
That is very odd. If the drive is under warranty, you should definitely be entitled to a replacement. If not, I would probably just stop using the drive, but I'd contact the manufacturer anyway. If, however, you want to keep using it anyway, I'd check the power supply and the power and data cables. Then I'd image the drive, run a destructive read/write test on it, and run the SMART diagnostics again before putting it back into service. I definitely wouldn't put anything on it that can't be easily recovered or reproduced--but you already have redundant backup sets, right? ;) – rob Mar 8 '12 at 0:47
Alright, I'll do that. But what do you mean by a 'destructive read/write test'? Also, can you recommend me a good way to do a full format? Actually haven't done it before, though I imagine it's fairly easy through the basic windows 7 interface. And I do have backups, as of today, lol. Only just got a useable external this afternoon. Still have to transfer about 230 gb though. – Josh Mar 8 '12 at 3:18
Yes, you can do a format by right-clicking on the drive in Computer or Disk Management, selecting Format..., and making sure to uncheck the Quick Format box before formatting. However, you can do a slightly more thorough format in Linux. See the Update at the end of my answer for detailed instructions. – rob Mar 8 '12 at 20:28
Also, keep in mind that it's a good idea to always have at least two backup sets. A few people I know were diligent enough to keep backups, but then their backup drives went bad and weren't replaced right away. You can probably guess how much they were able to restore from backups when the production drive failed. – rob Mar 8 '12 at 20:35

Stopping a partitioning process shouldn't (from my knowledge) actually make the disk unusable. It may make the data on the disk hard to recover or lost forever.

The disk may be failing and if so check the SMART status with a 'Live CD' OS like Ubuntu or Fedora.

If the drive checks out then try partitioning and formatting the disk with fdisk and mke2fs in one of those Unix systems. I have had problems with Windows complaining about disks and unable to do any kind of work (partition, format, etc) until I used outside system to bring the file-system to a usable state. Windows seems particularly reluctant to recover from disk errors and then not provide easy tools to correct the issue.

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