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Will running SpinRite on a good drive with data be an issue?

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migrated from serverfault.com Nov 5 '09 at 9:35

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

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In mock Steve Gibson's voice: "Well of course its fine, spinrite is meant to keep your drives healthy!". Leo: "Hmmmm... that is just great, I feel real positive about that, I do" ... :-) –  Kyle Brandt Nov 4 '09 at 20:27
    
If you are wondering what I am talking about, you might want to check out the Twit podcasts, they are good, I like "FLOSS Weekly" and "Security Now" –  Kyle Brandt Nov 4 '09 at 21:02

3 Answers 3

SpinRite used to be essential, as track calibration would drift over time and the data layed down long ago would no longer pass directly under the read head.

Modern hard drives now have many built-in methods of dealing with this issue.

I still use SpinRite, sparingly, to recover data from dying drives. That's it.

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Running SpinRite on a good drive with existing data is an excellent idea. The tool is designed as much for drive maintenance as it is for drive repair/data recovery. Regular maintenance with SpinRite should reduce the potential for drive failure, as minor defects can be detected and addressed before they cause serious issues.

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How will it reduce the potential for drive failure? It makes the drive do more work which will probably shorten its life. –  Amuck Nov 4 '09 at 22:26
    
SpinRite will make the disk work harder, and it will not prevent physical disk failure; however, it can detect and resolve potential data quality issues before they manifest, and in this respect, reduce the potential for future data loss. In my experience, drive defects are more often logical than physical, particularly with high density disks, and running SpinRite regularly (say every 6 months) is a worthwhile practice. I've lost data on several drives (old and new) where I haven't run SpinRite, but I've never lost data, or physically lost a disk, as a result of using SpinRite. –  Hinch Nov 5 '09 at 8:52
    
I find the argument about extra disk wear rather weak. Granted, SpinRite may read and write a lot and therefore provide "above average" wear, but that's a few hours per year, which is really a drop in the ocean. Just booting Windows does so too. I think refreshing the written data is worth those few hours of wear. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 5 '09 at 10:12

I personally feel that SpinRite's long running full disk access adds to the mechanical wear on a drive, about which SpinRite can do nothing, and which only exasperates a failed drive scenario. While it should run and complete just fine on a good condition drive, I don't think this should be done often. Additionally I feel that any serious attempt at saving a failed drive should start by copying all the data to a spare drive, preferably two spares, then if low level problems are found on the source/failed drive fixes to the data should be made on one of the destination drives only. I believe this because I think writing to a failed drive is a recipe for disaster, and that the drive will further degrade very quickly, possibly even while copying the data off (which would be a total failure situation).

SpinRite doesn't address this.

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I agree. Even though SpinRite has a mode intended to "refresh" the data on a good drive, I think the extra wear & tear from running SpinRite on a regular basis is more likely to degrade the drive than save you from bit rot. SpinRite should only be run as a last-ditch data recovery effort after you have imaged the drive's contents to another known good drive using dd_rescue and/or dd. serverfault.com/questions/51681/… –  rob Nov 4 '09 at 21:27

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