Recommend the best HD surface tester/fixer utility?

Discussion in 'Dell' started by scooterspal, Jul 17, 2008.

  1. scooterspal

    scooterspal Guest

    I have some of these external HD's running off USB2 cables.

    I moved two of them while they were running (not wise I'm sure)
    and I got an error later in the day to the affect...

    Windors- Delayed Write failed:

    ....on two different Dell systems

    No data appears to have been lost and after closing the dialog
    all seems OK... for now, anyway

    I'm thinking my moving the HD may have damaged some sectors
    and this is the reason for the error.

    Any thoughts?

    BTW: I upped my paging file. It was at the minimum. Not sure if this has
    anything to do with it. I'm wondering if there is some kind of buffer
    that took the hit? Just could not write fast enough of vice versa??

    scooterspal, Jul 17, 2008
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  2. Hi!
    The damage was to the master file table (MFT). You will notice eventually,
    when the disks fail to show up as valid formatted media.
    If the drives were running when you moved them, that could cause problems.
    But if they weren't--and they were not dropped or abused--that shouldn't
    cause any problems.

    The drives could be going bad, but the first thing I'd do is make sure that
    the bridge chips in the enclosures aren't failing, and that the power
    supplies are working correctly.

    Although it is not free, I would highly recommend the SpinRite tool from
    Gibson Research Corporation. If a disk is about to die, or has a developing
    internal problem, it will tell you and do all it can to recover all the
    data. I have been very pleased with it--and sometimes downright
    astounded--and I say that as nothing more than a satisfied customer.

    If you do not want to or cannot use SpinRite, some drive manufacturers
    provide diagnostic utilities you can use on their drives. There's also a
    tool known as HDAT2 that you can find here: I don't
    know much about it as I have yet to use it.

    Another tool that might prove useful is the free SpeedFan utility. SpeedFan
    can read and display SMART data. It also offers a function that analyzes
    your drive's SMART data and tells you what might be happening if your drives
    are failing.

    To get the maximum benefit from any of these tools, take the drives out of
    their enclosures and plug them directly in your computer's hard disk
    connections if at all possible. Not only will this speed the tests up
    dramatically; it will also let you see SMART data, which can be useful if
    either of the two drives report it (nearly all modern drives do). Just about
    every external storage enclosure for USB or Firewire does not relay this

    William R. Walsh, Jul 18, 2008
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  3. scooterspal

    Ben Myers Guest

    Let me add that drive manufacturers are wildly inconsistent in making use of the
    SMART data. For example, Fujitsu initializes certain important (for the health
    of the drive) values to extremely large non-zero values. I looked at the SMART
    data on a 30GB Hitachi drive yesterday, and everything was A-OK, but Hitachi's
    Drive Fitness Test identified corrupted sectors, so the drive is history. For
    me, anyway.

    Until the drive manufacturers actually play by the rules they have supposedly
    mutually defined in the SMART pseudo-standard, the SMART data gives only a rough
    indication of the health of the drive. I guess that some of them don't what us
    all to know how crappy their drives really are... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Jul 18, 2008
  4. Hi!
    It's not foolproof, and I wasn't trying to say that. There are a
    number of problems with SMART:

    1. Many system BIOSes ignore it, even when a drive is signaling that
    one of the monitored parameters has been violated.

    2. Not all the parameters a drive can report and their significance
    are known.

    3. Perhaps the worst of all is that most drives have to be exercised a
    bit to get their SMART systems to take notice of a problem. Normal
    usage doesn't seem to be enough. Interestingly enough, at least in my
    very informal research, Maxtor drives seem to be the best about this
    aspect--I have seen them performing what appears to be a self test
    when idle. (I wouldn't recommend them for much else, though.)
    SpinRite will use SMART data if it can find it, which it won't do for
    most add-in controllers, such as SATA expansion cards.

    If you don't have the virtue of SMART data, a throughput test can be
    useful--if you know how fast the drive should normally be able to
    transfer data. Any drop-offs in data throughput can mean that the
    drive is starting to have internal problems. Performance during spinup
    (which is usually fairly easy to hear) can be monitored...any
    shutdowns, or unusual sounding clicks or clunks indicate trouble.

    And of course, the original poster should definitely back up anything
    that is irreplaceable before starting with any drive diagnostics
    routine. I forgot that. There is always the possibility that a
    diagnostics tool could push an ailing drive over the edge.

    William R. Walsh, Jul 18, 2008
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