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Upon booting a computer I get an error "AHCI Port 1 Error, press F1 to continue." Ok, everything goes fine, I can perfectly boot into Windows (7). There I get a S.M.A.R.T. warning that my hard drive might be failing soon and I should recover my data.

I start a chkdsk, everything is fine. Sfc scan, everything fine. The hard drive isn't really ratteling or making any noise and a full HDD Regenerator scan also reports zero errors.

Should I be worrying? Could this be a false positive? Are there any other tests I could perform to see wether the hard drive really is failing?

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You should install a S.M.A.R.T. tool (e.g., CrystalDiskInfo or Passmark disk checkup) to know exactly which attribute caused the warning to appear and how far the value is above the threshold.

The most common trigger is an elevated reallocated sector count:

Count of reallocated sectors. When the hard drive finds a read/write/verification error, it marks that sector as "reallocated" and transfers data to a special reserved area (spare area). This process is also known as remapping, and reallocated sectors are called "remaps". The raw value normally represents a count of the bad sectors that have been found and remapped. Thus, the higher the attribute value, the more sectors the drive has had to reallocate. This allows a drive with bad sectors to continue operation; however, a drive which has had any reallocations at all is significantly more likely to fail in the near future.

This means that some sectors of your HDD have already failed! Those might be the last sectors you ever see failing, but it certainly increases the probabilities of a massive disk failure.

Failing sectors certainly don't cause any audible symptoms. Chkdsk only checks the file system, not the disk itself. If the sectors have been successfully, chkdsk won't find any problems.

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One of the symptoms of realocation failure is long pauses ( i.e. not connect to CPU use ) out of the blue. – Ramhound Feb 11 '13 at 15:57
OK, thanks for info. I checked what SMART error it was with one of those tools and it indeed was a reallocated sector count error. Will replace the drive asap. – Matthias Feb 12 '13 at 7:19

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