Yesterday I attended a presentation by Western Digital that discussed various innovations in rotating hard drive internals, including perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), etc. And of course, there's flash-based SSDs.

I am wondering whether reading and re-writing bits still does anything to prevent or predict failure in modern drives, as SpinRite advertises.

  1. For SSDs, I am rather convinced that SpinRite is either useless or hurts, since the drive's internal controller already relocates and masks bad sectors. Please correct me if I am wrong.
  2. For rotating disks, do modern materials/techniques still benefit from a "refresh" (read followed by write)? If any block is bad/failing, would the drive expose it to SpinRite, or would it silently relocate/mask it akin to SSDs?

Note that I am not interested in anecdotes ("I used SpinRite last week and now my PC once again that new hard drive smell"), but rather in specifics about how SpinRite interacts with modern hard drives and their controllers.

  • do not use spinrite on SSDs. I think it would abort anyway though. all it could do is reduce the life of your disk. – Frank Thomas Oct 24 '13 at 17:00
  • @FrankThomas - You can actually use Spinrite a mode which only reads the data instead of writting the data ( I believe Level 1+2 ). This is actually what Steve Gibson suggests if you are going to use Spinrite against a SSD. As for "modern" hdds nothing as really change except how quickly the drives can read and write which the next version is going to address with a more modern universal read/write mechanic that Steve hopes will work with nearly every device ( i.e. it will ramp up to the drives specification ). – Ramhound Oct 24 '13 at 17:13
  • @Ramhound, Thanks for the info. I've always respected Steve Gibson, so its good to hear he's still relentlessly improving his offerings. my copy of spinrite is like 10 years old, so ... – Frank Thomas Oct 24 '13 at 22:23
  • @FrankThomas - I forget the exact reason you would run it but on his podcast thats what he suggested. – Ramhound Oct 25 '13 at 0:00

@Philip adding this update since your answer wasn't posted for a while.
1. Ref. above response from Ramhound the non-destructive level-1/level-2 modes are still effective & are supported for data recovery on SSD media without any detriment to the life of your drive.
2. The tool does operate on current technology & still resolves the same general types of data loss scenarios as the company advertises. Other products may be desirable for realtime, maintenance-only applications to avoid the lengthy scan cycles that require exclusive access to your system (designed for preventive repairs vs. catastrophic failures).

There are apparently some configurations where the software cannot access the drive if your mainboard/controller is preventing this. In these cases removing it to another supported platform would be justified for critical data recovery. Plenty of reviews & testimonials online, see independent overview here: http://www.fact-reviews.com/info/spinrite.aspx.

Although the full Spinrite 6.0 documentation is not being distributed it's still available to licensed users via the online help system. Version 7.0 is not forthcoming yet for improved speed/compatibility features but the existing product is more than sufficient as-is for a wide variety of hardware.

  • 1
    7.0 has not even been started 6.1 will be the next version; then 6.2 will be after that – Ramhound Aug 14 '14 at 3:57

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