Solved Hard Drive Dying? Bad Clusters Keep Being Reported

July 21, 2012 at 12:11:58
Specs: Windows 7 Home Premium, 1.6 GHz/1 GB
My friend has a Dell Inspiron 1545 that is a few years old now. It came with Windows 7 64-bit. The original hard drive started to go bad around five months ago, so I replaced it with another one that had a high rating on Newegg, re-installed Windows 7 64-bit, put as much of my friend's data as I could get from the old drive onto the new one, and encrypted the entire drive with TrueCrypt.

My friend told me that he recently started the laptop and got a message saying that it wasn't shut down properly, though he claims that he didn't shut it down improperly. The laptop still worked, though. But then the next time he tried to use it, it wouldn't boot. Instead, it gave a BSOD (0x00000074 - BAD_SYSTEM_CONFIG_INFO). I tried getting into safe mode, but it didn't work. I ran Dell's on-board diagnostics and got this message:

Error Code  0146.
Msg: Error Code 2000-0146
Msg: Hard Drive 0 - self test log contains previous error(s)
The given error code and message can be used by Dell Technical Support to help diagnose the problem.
Do you want to continue testing?

Everything else in the diagnostics looked good, though. I didn't see anywhere in the BIOS that I could access the self test log. I kind of wonder if the tool just has issues with drives that are completely encrypted. I would doubt that a drive would go bad so quickly—especially if it's rated so well.

I decided to bite the bullet and do a full re-install of Windows. So I backed up the drive's data and then removed all of its partitions. I then created a new NTFS partition, booted with a Windows 7 DVD, went into the command prompt, and typed CHKDSK C: /X /B. It took a while to finish and in the end, it said that it added a certain amount of bad clusters to the Bad Clusters File. So I ran the same command and it did the same thing, only this time the amount of bad clusters was different. I've done this probably ten times now and each time, it has reported that it added a certain amount of bad clusters to the Bad Clusters File. The most recent time I did this, the amount was 1488. Why does it keep doing this? Is the hard drive truly dying? Should I replace it with an SSD?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you!


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✔ Best Answer
July 24, 2012 at 19:42:38
Memtest is considered the conclusive decision on memory.
Western Digital has a good test utility that works on their drives, I just always mention Seatools because they work on all drives. I personally choose WD drives all of the time as a better drive and use WD tools myself as well.
I do not know about the encryption software, how good that one is, or if it could in any way effect the drive's life (doubtful though).
I mentioned testing the memory simply so you are not getting any false bad sectors showing up. retest with WD software after Memtest and if you get more than a couple of bad sectors or if the drive cannot be 'repaired' (blocking those out) by the WD utility, OR if any other problems occur soon after it is repaired, replace it.
Of course, make sure that he has or you make an encrypted back up, or an unencrypted one that is kept in a bank vault (or better yet, both).

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.



#1
July 21, 2012 at 13:35:11
Hard Drive Dying?
Yes.

I kind of wonder if the tool just has issues with drives that are completely encrypted.
TrueCrypt encrypts entire partitions, not entire drives. There is a difference, even if the vocabulary is commonly confused.

Why does it keep doing this?
Every bad bit has a 50% chance of being read as good. Also, the HDD has its own list of bad clusters, and it'll swap a known bad clusters with a spare, so basically you have two different tools attempting to do similar things, conflicting with each other.

Should I replace it with an SSD?
If your friend is going to be this rough with his laptop. then yes. As long as he's paying.

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way


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#2
July 21, 2012 at 18:29:28
Firstly, use the run box CHKDSK /F
You will need to reboot for it to check for erros and fix them.
Next, Defrag the hdd but empty the Recycle Bin beofre defragging (you don't want to be defragging recycle bin files if you don't want them).

Dell Inspiron 1545 notebook, the maximum hdd is 320gb.

edit - The Notebook should not have come with Windows 7, it's only suited to Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Vista


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#3
July 21, 2012 at 19:33:20
Note: a bad memory segment can cause all sorts of things and some of them can appear to be hard drive problems. It can also cause disk tests to show false problems.

Run Memtest86 via a bootable CD. Allow it to run all tests unless you get errors. If errors, retest one stick of memory at a time. Replace as needed.

Retest hard drive with Seatools from Seagate (download) via a bootable CD.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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Related Solutions

#4
July 22, 2012 at 12:56:10
There must have been a reason for using TrueCrypt but I really can't see any good reason for using that program so perhaps that program is hiding the bad sectors or is actually casusing them thus not enabling you to defrag or repair those bad sectors.

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#5
July 23, 2012 at 12:25:56
IF,there is a problem with bad clusters, perhaps Hard Disk Regenerator might help.

A thank you would be nice, if I have helped.


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#6
July 23, 2012 at 20:30:07
Thank you all for your answers!

Razor2.3: How do I know that the hard drive is truly dying? And would you trust this drive or replace it?

eddiesawdust: You might want to read my question again :) Also, I just now checked the sticker under the battery and it says Windows 7 and has the Dell logo and everything. Lastly, TrueCrypt is installed to protect my friend's privacy, particularly if his laptop ever got stolen.

Fingers: Dell's tool that I ran has extensive memory tests and no errors came up. I will have to look into that tool, though the drive is a Western Digital drive.

clive_pearce: I'll have to check that out.


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#7
July 23, 2012 at 23:00:27
The moment a hard drive cannot reliably store data is the moment it looses my trust. It's dying, and the errors are only going to get worse. I don't know if the drive has reached its natural end of life, or if your friend is drop kicking it, but it doesn't matter. The drive is dying. I hope you got everything of value off of it.

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way


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#8
July 24, 2012 at 19:42:38
✔ Best Answer
Memtest is considered the conclusive decision on memory.
Western Digital has a good test utility that works on their drives, I just always mention Seatools because they work on all drives. I personally choose WD drives all of the time as a better drive and use WD tools myself as well.
I do not know about the encryption software, how good that one is, or if it could in any way effect the drive's life (doubtful though).
I mentioned testing the memory simply so you are not getting any false bad sectors showing up. retest with WD software after Memtest and if you get more than a couple of bad sectors or if the drive cannot be 'repaired' (blocking those out) by the WD utility, OR if any other problems occur soon after it is repaired, replace it.
Of course, make sure that he has or you make an encrypted back up, or an unencrypted one that is kept in a bank vault (or better yet, both).

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#9
July 26, 2012 at 21:22:56
I couldn't get Western Digital's tool to work. I tried it with the hard drive in AHCI mode and in ATA mode and it didn't work either way. I was able to get SeaTools to work, though. I went through the long test and it found I think 40 something errors. Since the drive is not Seagate or Maxtor, I couldn't do anything about the errors. I decided to take Fingers' advice and test the memory to make sure the errors could be trusted. I probably should have done that in the first place. I let it run for ten hours and this is what it ended up with:

_     Memtest86+ v1.70      | Pass 19% #######
Pentium III 2095 MHz        | Test 20% #######
L1 Cache:   64K 34341MB/s   | Test #7  [Random number sequence]
L2 Cache: 1024K 12851MB/s   | Testing:  120K - 3545M 4056M
Memory  : 4056M  3031MB/s   | Pattern:   3113534f
Chipset :


 WallTime   Cached  RsvdMem   MemMap   Cache  ECC  Test  Pass  Errors ECC Errs
 ---------  ------  -------  --------  -----  ---  ----  ----  ------ --------
  10:00:01   4056M     104M  e820-Std    on   off   Std    11       0
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Since there didn't appear to be any memory errors, I figured the hard drive errors reported by CHKDSK and SeaTools were probably reliable. I decided to run DBAN on the drive to see what it would do. I couldn't get DBAN to work on my friend's laptop because there kept being an unknown device at the top of the list (above the hard drive) that was causing problems. I ended up putting it in my Sony VAIO VGN-FE890 and getting it to work that way. I saw most of DBAN's progress. It was on pass 3 of 3 with no errors. I went to bed and when I woke up, it said it had finished with non-fatal errors. It said I could check the logs, but I don't know where to check. I know you can push Ctrl+Alt+F5 and then look in /var/log, but I don't know which file to cat and what to look for.

Should I give up on this drive?

Thank you all!


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#10
July 27, 2012 at 04:48:18
If Seatools reported that many errors and the memory tested good then yes, I would definitely replace the drive. You must be able to completely rely on a hard drive to run the system every time and keep the data safe all of the time. Back ups are important but we always need to expect never to need them.

You have to be a little bit crazy to keep you from going insane.


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#11
July 27, 2012 at 07:47:30
OK, between what Razor2.3 and Fingers have said, I think I should have my friend buy a replacement hard drive. I have no idea which answer to mark as best. I'm not very familiar with the etiquette on this forum. What should I do? Thanks, again, for the help!

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#12
July 27, 2012 at 08:47:46
Well that's easy, pick whichever post you think helped the most.
Fun fact: Mods can set the best answer, and side-step this conversation entirely.

Edited in bonus fact: I am a mod.

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way


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#13
July 27, 2012 at 17:40:51
I don't think I can narrow it down to one single answer, so I will let a mod handle it. Thanks!

EDIT: I see that a best answer has already been chosen. I'm off the hook!


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