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The hard drive of my ThinkPad T42 finally failed after seven and a half years. I can't say I'm surprised, given that it had over 20,000 hours of use. However, I'd like to know whether it was a logical or physical failure so that I can better decide what to do with the drive.

Some relevant information:

  • The hard drive is a 80 GB model from Hitachi.
  • It failed after a full defragmentation. I have heard that the physical stress of a defrag operation can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
  • The first sign of trouble was that booting up took an abnormally long time. Afterwards, Windows XP somehow deactivated itself. Subsequent boots took an increasingly longer time until the computer could no longer boot.
  • No corrupted files when copying to another drive.
  • Scandisk complains of numerous bad sectors.
  • There is no audible clicking, whirring or scraping.
  • The Reallocation Event Count jumped to 91 within a short time. It had previously remained at 1 for several years.

Anyone have an idea what type of failure it was?

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Bad sectors aren't logical errors. –  Karan Apr 8 '13 at 18:31
    
If the issue was "logical", then writing a fresh filesystem (aka "formating the drive") would solve it. –  sawdust Apr 9 '13 at 0:26
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2 Answers

This sounds like a physical issue. The data may not be corrupt because the disk's firmware can move data from bad to good sectors.

If the disk is damaged and you run chkdsk it may incorrectly mark sectors as bad which have data.

Adding couple points: if you believe you are losing data instead of running stressful operations like chkdsk I would run a recovery program to pull data to a good drive.

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A bad sector can have bad data, that being marked is not wrong. It will attempt to move that data to a good sector though. –  AthomSfere Apr 8 '13 at 19:25
    
It will attempt although it may not succeed depending on the drive and the extent of damage. Thanks for clarifying my point. –  srini1990 Apr 8 '13 at 19:30
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Check your disks SMART stats, using a tool like SpeedFan for windows or palimpsest for linux. this will give you the stats you need for your evaluation. I woudl say, that if you are getting reports of bad blocks//reallocated sectors, your drive is dying, and its time to save the data that you can. when reallocated sector count rises mercurially, your time is getting short.

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