A bad sector refers to the section of a computer’s hard drive or external hard drive which is inaccessible or unwriteable. Almost every hard drive contains some bad sectors. Usually, it does not cause any trouble when a hard drive only has little bad sectors and there is no data being written to the sections that contains bad sectors. However, if a hard disk drive contains too many bad sectors and you have written lots of data to those bad sectors, the hard drive probably becomes inaccessible which disables you to read or write any data on the hard drive.
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When a hard drive contains bad sectors, it means that the sections which have been marked as bad are damaged. Here are some signs telling a hard drive probably has bad sectors:
1. Hard drive frequently reports error message to say files are corrupted when you read some file or run a program. Or it takes a long time to read a file or run a program. Sometimes, the computer shows blue screen finally.
2. Hard drive makes strange noises when you boot your computer, especially when you try to open hard disk drive and write or read any data.
3. PC was not attacked by virus, but computer cannot boot normally and shows warning message "Sector not found" or "General error in reading drive C".
5. It automatically runs Scandisk to scan hard drive for errors every time you boot your computer.
If you can still access a hard drive normally but it has similar symptoms mentioned above, you had better check carefully if the hard drive has bad sectors. You should repair the bad sectors as soon as possible for the sake of data security.
There are two types of hard drive bad sectors, namely logical bad sectors and physical bad sectors.
1. Logical bad sectors
Logical bad sectors usually refer to sections that are not writeable, but there is no physical damage to the hard drive. Usually, hard drive may have logical bad sectors due to virus infection, software conflict, sudden power outage, sudden shutdown or reboot of computer, system crash, etc.
2. Physical bad sectors
Hard drive might have physical damage due to long time use. As you know, a hard drive is not lifelong media. A hard drive can be physically damaged due to impact, dust, wear out and more. Usually, it is difficult to repair if a hard drive had physical bad sectors.
Step1. Double click My Computer on Windows XP / 7 computer to open it (You can also right click My Computer and then select Open to open it).
Step2. Right click the drive you want to check and select Properties option.
Step3. Click Tools tab and then click Check Now in the Error-checking section.
Step4. Select Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors and then click Start button so that it will automatically scan and repair bad sectors on the selected drive.
1. You should close all programs and files before checking and repair bad sectors, because it may fail to check and repair bad sectors if the sectors which are marked as bad are used by an open program or file.
2. You should wait patiently during scanning and repairing process.
Step1. Click Search on the upper-right corner of the screen and then enter This PC in the search box.
Step2. Click This PC and then select Properties option.
Step3. Click Tools tab and click Check button in Error checking section.
Step4. Click Scan and repair drive and then wait patiently before it is completed.
In addition to Windows built-in error-checking tool, you can also reformat hard disk drive to repair the bad sectors. You can quick format the hard drive, which is able to mark the bad sectors so that Windows will no longer save data to the marked sections. You can also full format the hard drive, which can not only mark bad sectors, but also repair the problems.
You can also use some tool that can work on Windows platform to fix bad sectors on a hard disk drive. When looking for a tool for bad sectors fixing, you should be careful to select a proper one.
You may choose different methods to fix bad sectors on any hard drive or another device like portable hard drive, pen drive, USB flash drive, etc, but you should remember to recover all important data before performing any further operation to fix the error.