How to extend the life of an old hard drive

The hard drive is the most complex mechanical element in our computers and laptops. After all, inside it is a package of disks coated with magnetic material and rotating at high speed. And the read and write heads hover above the disks at a distance of only a few nanometers. The gap between the reading head and the magnetic disk is maintained only by the air flow.

What are remapped sectors and why do they appear?
Due to the nature of the design, a hard drive is extremely vulnerable to shock, shock, and vibration while in operation. It is enough to hit a working computer once with your foot so that it sways, or with a roar to put the laptop on the table with a crash, and that’s it – the hard disk head touches the surface of the “pancake” and scratches it.

As a result, the magnetic surface is damaged, files from the damaged area are no longer readable.

The hard drive constantly performs self-diagnostics, entering many operating parameters into SMART (hard drive self-diagnosis system) data. And he marks such damaged areas of the magnetic surface as a “damaged sector” or “bad block”.

But bad sectors can occur not only due to shaking and shocks of the disk, but also due to the gradual wear and tear of hard disk mechanisms, when exfoliated particles of the magnetic layer fall between the head and the “pancake”, causing an avalanche-like appearance of damaged sectors.

The situation is aggravated by too high or low temperature of the hard drive, as well as its sudden changes.

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The bad sectors described above are physical, that is, they are present as damage to the magnetic surface. But there are also logical bad sectors that appear on the disk as a result of software failure, oxidation of contacts on the board, poor power supply, or a damaged data cable.

 

In any case, the hard drive has a spare area of ​​the magnetic surface, and it remaps the bad sector from it. Now, when accessing it, the hard disk head will read and write a sector from the spare area.

In the SMART parameters, the Reallocated Sector Count value will increase – this is the number of reassigned sectors. The value of Reallocated Event Count may also increase . This parameter is directly related to Reallocated Sector Count , but sometimes its growth can occur separately. For example, in cases where the hard drive still managed to read the bad sector.

Another important SMART parameter indicating disk health is Current Pending Sector Count . This is the number of unstable sectors that are either read or not.

What programs determine the presence of reassigned sectors?
Let’s look at programs that are convenient to view SMART data and monitor the health of your hard drive.

One of the most popular free programs is CrystalDiskInfo .

The program is very convenient and simple, you don’t even have to delve into the details of SMART data .

The program will write the status of the disk in the form of a large “Technical Status” button , which will look like “ Good ” and blue, if there are problems with the disk, it will change color to yellow and the inscription to “ Alarm ”.

The red color of the button and the inscription ” Alarm ” indicates a critical condition of the hard drive.

 

Here, as an example, is one of my hard drives with remapped sectors.

 

The output is in hexadecimal by default, but can be changed to decimal.

 

Another good hard drive monitoring program is the shareware HD Tune .

It is a good alternative to CrystalDiskInfo which has more stringent hard drive health criteria.

 

Here, as an example, is the same disk with remapped sectors in HD Tune .

 

How to Prevent Remapped Sectors and Extend the Life of Your Hard Drive
The first and most important rule – no shocks and vibrations of the device when it is on !

Position the computer so that children or pets do not touch it.

Pay special attention to a laptop with a hard drive, try not to move it while it is on. If you use it on the couch or on your lap, lift and place it smoothly.

 

The second rule – ideally, the temperature of the hard drive should be from 20 to 40 degrees. It is highly desirable to put a fan in front of the hard drive in the PC case.

When ventilating in winter, if the computer is next to a window, the temperature of the hard drive may drop sharply, which is highly undesirable. Turn off your computer before airing out.

Saving important information
Each of us has information on computers that is extremely valuable: a family photo / video album, some works, drawings, texts, etc. Often, if a hard drive fails, this invaluable information is lost forever.

Always duplicate important information on a separate medium: an external hard drive, flash drives, DVDs, clouds.

If the SMART of your hard drive shows errors, then saving important information is the first thing you should do.

 

Almost any mail service now offers cloud storage services: google.com , mail.ru , yandex.ru . If you have mail on one of these services, then there is a cloud where you can save important data.

It is very convenient to connect clouds to a computer through a program from mail.ru – ” Disk-O:” . When you start Disk-O: the clouds will be visible in the computer explorer as regular disks. In this article , we compared in detail the capabilities of different cloud services.

Fixing remapped sectors
It should be noted right away that we cannot fix physically damaged sectors on the hard drive. And its repair, as a rule, is much more expensive than the drive itself. Therefore, the only thing we can do at home is to fix bad sectors resulting from a software failure or poor drive power.

The free utility Victoria HDD / SSD will help us with this. You can download version 5.27 from the developers’ site .

The program has a lot of opportunities for diagnosing hard drives, but you need to handle it with extreme care, understanding what and why you are doing. And, of course, all valuable information on the disk must be saved elsewhere.

First, select the disk in the right part of the program window.

 

You can see the SMART attributes

 

If we click on the ” Testing ” button, we get to the disk surface check window.

 

Scanning a disk takes a very long time, but it is not recommended to scan the system disk under Windows, as the results may be incorrect. Ideally, it is better to run the program from a bootable USB flash drive.

When scanning a disk, Victoria HDD/SSD marks sectors with colors that change depending on the state of the sector.

Gray color – the sector is in perfect or good condition.
Green color – the sector reading time is slightly longer, but does not go beyond the norm.
Orange color – the sector is read very poorly, a candidate for reassigned sectors.
Red color – the sector is badly damaged and cannot be read.
Blue with a cross – the sector cannot be read and is causing crashes.

Before starting the test, you need to choose one of the four ways that Victoria HDD / SSD will treat sectors.

 

Ignore – Victoria HDD/SSD scans without recovering hard disk sectors.
Repair (Remap) – replacement of bad sectors of the hard disk with sectors from the reserve area.
Refresh – scan with an attempt to restore bad sectors programmatically.
Erase – Victoria HDD/SSD overwrites bad sectors of the disk using low-level formatting. This method should only be used when the “Repair” and “Update” modes did not help restore the hard drive.
To treat reassigned sectors, you need to run a surface test in the “Repair” mode. If bad sectors remain after it, then run the test in the “Update” mode. On large disks, testing can take several hours.

How to use the hard drive if the treatment did not help
You should not have high hopes for the correction of all defects. Usually the disk remains with reassigned sectors. But this is not a judgment at all. Each case is individual and it happens that a damaged disk works for a very long time.

For example, the disk with damaged sectors mentioned above was given to me “for discarding” six years ago, however, with good airflow and without vibrations, the reassigned sectors stopped increasing in number, and the disk is working normally.

Of course, you should not trust such a disk with important information. However, we have enough temporary, not very important information on our computers that can be stored on such disks as additional ones. For example, the swap file, saved Windows system images, the Steam game collection, temporary videos from the DVR, and so on.

Alternatively, you can use such a drive as an external one to watch, for example, videos and movies on a TV or to transfer information to friends. It is not so a pity to lose such a disk or completely ruin it, because its cost in the secondary market is almost zero, and its reliability is in doubt. However, as a means of transferring and storing not too important information, it may well work.

There are external boxes for both regular 3.5″ drives and laptop 2.5″. Be sure to choose a box with a USB 3.0 interface or higher.

3.5″ Outer box DEXP UA005

2.5″ Outer Box DEXP HD308
The main thing is to remember that important information must be duplicated, and then you will not be afraid of a hard drive failure. And if you take high-quality hard drives with a long warranty period and use them carefully, then you should not worry about its failure during the warranty period.