How do you repair bad blocks?

  • Posted: 05 October 2009 07:08 PM

    I’ve got a western digital external hard drive that started playing up.

    At first i could use Disk Warrior and rebuild the directory then write it over the top of the original. Then Disk Warrior said it couldn’t write over it. Used Drive Genius to scan for integrity. After about five hours it said it had found some bad blocks on the drive.

    Rather than chuck the drive I thought I’d try and re-map the bad blocks. Read on the net that Disk Utility will do this if you tell it to re-format the drive but while doing so write zeros over the whole disk, the idea being, I guess, that if it can’t write a zero to a block it will flag this up and tell the drive to remember it is bad.

    Well, another five hours later, and I think this didn’t work.

    My question?

    Is there a program out there that will not only inform you of bad blocks but re-map them?

    Or should I just use my shiny silver WD drive as a paperweight?

  • Posted: 05 October 2009 07:37 PM #1

    If you have a Windows computer with a SATA interface, I’d suggest getting Spinrite from Gibson Research Company and let it go to town. It’s worth every penny that you’ll pay for it, IMHO.

    (Spinrite doesn’t really care what the data is on the drive, so is not limited to FAT or NTFS partitions, etc. If your drive is repairable, it will repair it.)

  • Posted: 05 October 2009 07:54 PM #2

    Interesting… I have Parallells and Windows XP. Oh no, that’s no good. my Mac doesn’t have a SATA interface.

    By the way, I’ve got all the data off the drive and zeroed it, so it is blank.

  • Avatar

    Posted: 06 October 2009 05:08 AM #3

    I would use it as a paper weight. From my experience once you start to get bad blocks you just get more as the drive prepares to fail. I would rather replace it now than at some highly inappropriate time just after the drive has given up and taken my unbacked up data with it.

  • Posted: 24 October 2009 12:15 PM #4

    A quick update: since getting disk utility to zero out the drive it seems to be working normally. So maybe doing this does get the bad blocks flagged up after all.

  • Posted: 26 October 2009 11:53 AM #5

    gregriley - 06 October 2009 08:08 AM

    I would use it as a paper weight. From my experience once you start to get bad blocks you just get more as the drive prepares to fail. I would rather replace it now than at some highly inappropriate time just after the drive has given up and taken my unbacked up data with it.

    +1, even though it’s working for now, I would still make it a paper weight.

  • Posted: 26 October 2009 12:20 PM #6

    Have you considered contacting WD with a warrantee claim? Disks are often covered longer than anyone expects. Here’s how to tell if your are being given the run around. If the vendor says, “our warrantee period is two (or three) years from time of manufacture, not the time of your purchase. The fact the drive sat on the store shelf for a year isn’t our problem…” just tell them you’ll see them in small claims court.

    If the drive really is old and your receipt doesn’t show you are still in the window, you can search the web to see if there were any vendor accommodations granted for a bad batch.

    I recently took a client’s white MacBook in to the Apple Genius bar with a bad disk. The MB was out of AppleCare so we figured a couple of hundred bucks at least. But Apple said that while the MB was not covered, Apple had obtained an extended warrantee from the drive maker and they replaced it for free.

    Don’t forget, there are two layers of disk responsibility: manufacturers (Toshiba, Hitachi, Seagate) and vendors (Apple, LaCie, Western Digital, Seagate, etc.

    Best of luck.

  • Avatar

    Posted: 26 October 2009 07:09 PM #7

    I’m in the ‘dump it if it acts up’ school of thought. At least don’t use it as your primary backup drive. OK for transporting lots of files from here to there or such but drives have a habit of failing just when you REALLY need them not to. Drives are cheap. Data is not

    The idea for a warrantee claim is spot on. I’ve replaced several WD and Seagate drives in the last few months for work. A phone call or e-mail, a few numbers off of the drive, and poof they send out a new unit and a return label for the box when you send the old one back.


    The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.
    J.D.Salanger/Wilhelm Stekel

  • Posted: 27 October 2009 05:09 PM #8

    Very interesting! I know (somewhere!) I’ll have the receipt, and I am definetly going to give this a try. Right now in fact. Will report back!!!

    10 mins later. Found receipt. Bought one and a half years ago.

    Entered the serial number of the drive here:

    It returned an out of warranty result. It also has a link there where you can apply to have the warranty run from the date of purchase rather than date of manufacture by the way. But the drive is a WD Elements and this has just a one year warranty. With drives so cheap these days don’t know if I can be arsed to take it further. Especially as a mate suggested I buy a 1.5TB Green SATA drive and put it in the case.

    He recommended this one:

    Western Digital 1.5TB Caviar Green Sata-300 5400RPM 32MB.

    So does anyone know if it’s simply a case of undoung some screws taking out the old drive and snapping this new one into place?

    Thanks all…

    [ Edited: 27 October 2009 07:52 PM by Poncho ]      
  • Posted: 28 October 2009 02:58 PM #9

    I’ve replaced a lot of drives in external enclosures.  While not all manufacturers INTEND the user to open their case, I have yet to be denied entry when I needed/wanted to replace and/or upgrade the drive. The only hard part is getting into an external case that was not meant to be user accessible. But once the case is open, all of them were simple plug-and-play replacements.


    “Everything in excess!  To really enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites.  Moderation is for monks.” -Lazarus Long

  • Posted: 28 October 2009 07:14 PM #10

    Thanks everyone…

    Contacted Western Digital’s e-mail support and they got back to me within the hour. Impressed. However, they said…

    “Thank you for contacting Western Digital Customer Service and Support. My name is Nestor V.

    I truly apologize for the inconvenience you are currently experiencing. Unfortunately the logic board of the Elements Drive will only recognize the same type of drive.

    I hope that we have met your expectations today and that you are satisfied with our service. If you have any further questions, please reply to this email and we will be happy to assist you further.

    Nestor V.
    Western Digital Service and Support

    You can cut me off now!