Question Old, faulty HDD taking forever to format

Misacek01

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Jan 16, 2015
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Hi,

I have an old data drive that's recently developed a slew of apparently bad sectors. I started a full format (in the most BFU way, by right-clicking it in "Computer" and selecting "Format"), but the progress bar's not moved from zero for about an hour now. Should I continue my efforts to restore the drive to function, or is it time to visit my local retailer about a replacement?

About the system

The drive is a Seagate Barracuda 2 TB 7200 rpm from about 7 years ago. Formatted to NTFS, connected internally on SATA. Fortunately it's not the system drive, just data storage. The drive still works, but there are frequent errors when attempting to read or write to it. The drive makes no unusual sounds, AFAIK. The drive size reported by the system doesn't appear to have shrunk significantly, standing now at 1,953,382,396 bytes as per Total Commander. I managed to copy out the data I care about, so I don't need to recover whatever's left on the drive.

My PC runs Win 7. It's an older machine, but aside from this drive issue still quite solid - reasonably fast and generally problem-free, both HW and SW.

Story of the issue

Before backing up and proceeding to format, I had tried chkdsk on the (unmounted) drive, several times. Each time, it ran for hours, reporting to have found and repaired some bad sectors, but seemed to get stuck at some low % progress. After several tries where it seemed it'd take days to finish, if it finished at all, I gave up on chkdsk and figured I might have more luck with format.

As a note, the multiple unfinished chkdsk's seem to only have multiplied the number of read / write errors I see from the drive. Before, it was an occasional problem manifesting on a few files. After, a good number more seemed affected.

Formatting is where I am now; as mentioned, the non-quick format has not twitched away from zero for almost an hour. It's worth adding that, when I was copying out the files, a lot of the time the transfer speed was way lower than it should've been - about 2-4 MB/s copying to a drive which can normally write at about 25 MB/s. In some places, it slowed down to <1 MB/s but recovered.

A few times, it stuck completely and I had to reboot the PC to get the faulty drive to work again and start copying from the next file down the list. I assume the places it got stuck were the actual bad sectors. The places where it was just slow but ended up pulling through, IDK - I'm guessing "sectors near failure", is that possible?

Advice I'm looking for

Either way, most of the above is just background info. What I'm looking for now is advice as to whether I should keep trying to resurrect this drive, or if it's reasonable at this point to write it off as failed (certainly has seen enough service for failure to be unsurprising) and just get a new drive. A replacement isn't expensive, and besides I saved the vast majority of the data and have enough space elsewhere to continue functioning even without this drive. So it's not a major problem if I do have to write it off.

I'd like to restore the drive to functionality if it can be done with a reasonable amount of effort, and if the drive could afterwards be expected to function reliably enough to serve as a repository for non-critical files (think downloads and such). Is there anything I should try in this regard? Just waiting through the format, or maybe some third-party software? Keeping in mind, I'm a fairly skilled user, but not a pro. If whatever can be done needs more advanced skills, it might not be worth the time it'd take me to learn them.

My personal feeling is, given the recent proliferation of errors on the drive, the slow copying, and the uselessly slow chkdsk and format, that the drive has simply reached the end of its useful endurance and will need to be replaced. I'd just like to be sure that I'm not throwing it out prematurely if there's some relatively simple process to restore it that I just don't know about.

Thanks for all your help
Mike
 

Misacek01

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Jan 16, 2015
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Can you show screenshot from HDtune health?
Anyway - most likely it has reached end of its life.
Sorry, it seems I can't.

I downloaded HDtune and ran it, but I had to cancel the format to do it. (Wasn't getting anywhere anyway. Almost 2 hours and still stuck at zero.) Unfortunately, now the drive is unformatted and Windows tells me I don't have the rights to do anything with it. (Although I am on an admin account and could format it without extra rights before.) Even when I try to run quick format from an elevated command prompt, it still says my authority isn't high enough. Not sure what I could do to get higher access. IIRC there's some kind of super-admin account in Windows, but if so I don't recall how to get to it.

Welp, it seems I may have managed to brick the drive, too. :) (Ofc I knew this might be the result if I stop a full format. But like I said, it wasn't getting anywhere.)

Update: I at least managed to run HDtune's Error Check on the drive. It runs, but even Quick Check is very slow and the program becomes almost unresponsive while running it. The first ten or so blocks all came up red before I stopped it. (For comparison, on all my other drives it ran much faster and all blocks were green.) Ofc, the red blocks may be because of the format I stopped halfway. Or they might not, I really don't know. Either way, it's looking more and more like the drive's finished.

Update 2: I also looked in the Windows event log, and I've got hundreds of Disk Error #7's (Bad Block) on that drive just over the past week. (It's maybe not so surprising since I was copying a lot of files from there, so accessing a lot of the surface, but still.)

Update 3: "It's not a moon, it's a brick!" Well, the drive now cannot be formatted even from an elevated command prompt run from the hidden "superadmin" account. It runs (though again much slower than expected), but returns that it can't write the NTFS boot sector and can't continue. Therefore, I'm officially declaring the drive bricked. I guess that's that then, issue closed. Gonna get a new one if I need it.

Thanks anyway everyone for your help.
Mike
 
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