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This week, my harddisk made me an early christmas present in the form of a single defect sector. To make up for the puny size of the present, it chose a sector inside moricons.dll for that.

This means that now the system takes about 5 minutes to boot before Windows gives up and moves on, and there's 2 dozen scary "critical failure" entries in the system log after every boot, which is annoying. OK, admittedly, I shouldn't complain, it could be worse, the bad sector could be in ntldr...

SMART info more or less indicates (for what SMART can indicate anyway) that the drive is mostly OK. Soft Read Error Rate has a score of 96, and Current Pending Sector Count has a raw value of 8, which translates to a score of 100. Acronis DriveMonitor makes this an issue (lowering the overall rating to 75%), HDD Health calls it "excellent", giving an overall rating of 95% (which is what this harddisk from day one). No single score is below 95 (power on hours and spin up count), and most are 100 anyway.
Well, whatever, I've seen drives with perfect SMART values fail from one second to the other, and drives with moderate values work for years. So, I'm inclined not to put too much weight into that overall.

Now... to the problem: I don't feel like trashing the disk just yet (that's planned with a new OS install upgrading to Win7 early next year, independently of this issue), but in the mean time, I would still like to have a smoothly running system again.

Therefore, I feel tempted to tamper with it, but before I render my system entirely unusable (since I've never done this before), I'd like to verify that my planned procedere is likely to suceed in having a working system again:

  • Copy moricons.dl_ from the Windows install disk, rename it to, and unzip it.
  • This gives an intact 5.1.2600.2180 version (the broken one is 5.1.2600.5512 - but I guess this makes not much of a difference, since it's an icon-only DLL, and an outdated copy should work better than one that can't be read)
  • Run chkdsk /r /f` which will "repair" the file (i.e. delete the file without asking, tell the drive to remap the sector, and toss some unreadable junk into a file with a hexadecimal number)
  • Hopefully Windows still boots after this (is that a reasonable expectation, or do I need to have something like BartPE ready? -- but then again, what's that good for in case chkdsk has nuked the entire file system...)
  • Delete the junk file generated by chkdsk, copy the new DLL to %windir%\system32
  • Reboot. Pray.

Maybe I just shouldn't touch anything, since it still kind of works... if annoying, but it works. Unsure...

But, is there anything fundamentally wrong with the planned approach? Is this a sensible approach at all?

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Seems reasonable, but I think I might see if SFC will fix it first. (sfc /scannow from an administrative command prompt.) – Shinrai Nov 14 '12 at 16:00
@Shinrai: Well, thank you. sfc really did it... I had completely forgotten that this thing exists. I should have left it at that, too. After sfc, all was fine. I ran chkdsk thereafter just to be sure that the defective sector(s) is/are marked properly, and behold, as expected, it marked 1 sector and screwed up the entire system. I spent the next 5 hours getting the computer to boot successfully again. If you want to make the sfc tip an answer, I'll gladly accept it. – Damon Nov 14 '12 at 22:18
I honestly figured you had tried it and just didn't mention it, since you're certainly knowledgeable enough to have known about it. Didn't occur to me you might have overlooked it, heh. I've added an answer. :) – Shinrai Nov 14 '12 at 22:51
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The built-in system file checker is usually pretty good about fixing isolated problems like this. From an administrative command prompt, just run sfc /scannow.

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