Bad Clusters....the beginning of the end?


I recently reverted to Windows 2000 after running a Win98/Win2K dual boot. I have a damn near brand new 30GB IBM hard disk, and i used the IBM drive fitness tools to run a LLF to clear the drive in preparation for the NTFS format.

However, on NTFS formatting 92% of the disk it got stuck in a kind of repetetive groove. So, i rebooted and ran the fitness test which detected "bad sectors". I then ran the wipe and this "corrected" the bad sectors, and then allowed the NTFS format and install of Windows 2000.

Since installing SP2 on my system, the bad sector issue reappeared when i attempted a defrag with Norton Speedisk. I ran a full check disk which ran into the same 'repetetive groove' syndrome, and ,then reported that it had corrected three bad clusters on my disk.

All is now fine (again), but does this mean that i should be gearing up for another hard disk purchase?

Is my disk going rotten? I've only had it for three months!
Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Yes ... the drive may have bad sectors, and you may be forced to purchase another one. Why did you Low-Level Format the drive?

    I explained this to someone else in another post. There is a difference between Low-Level Formatting and a DOS Format.

    "When a hard drive is first manufactured, it has only tracks and cylinders, no sectors. Low-Level Formatting is a process whereby the sectors are "drawn" on each track, using magnetism as the "ink". This process also writes out the sector ID's that will be used by the operating system to locate data on the disk.

    Since this kind of formatting is usually done by the manufacturer, unless you have been working with hardware for several years (say, like a decade or more), it's unlikely that you, and/or the majority of users have ever done a Low-Level Format. When EIDE drives came on the scene, the reliability of the drives went up considerably, and Low-Level Formatting became an antiquated, and usually unnecessary process after being done once, at the factory. In these days, with DOS being phased out, the only time I've seen the this kind of program in recent years was in a SCSI BIOS utilities package.

    There was a time when it was recommended that a hard drive be Low-Level Formatted about once a year, especially when the drive and the controller were separate components, such as with an ESDI system.

    You would use this to refresh the sector ID's on the disk, and to change the interleave factor, if necessary.

    The process, when done by a home user, was usually performed with a DOS program like DEBUG, DM or HFORMAT.

    The ordinary DOS FORMAT command is not the same, and performs a different function.

    This command creates the Master Boot Record, which contains the partition information to the divide the physical drive into logical drives. It also creates the DOS boot record, and the File Allocation Table, which is a map of what clusters are associated with what files.

    Finally, it creates the the root directory, which is the basis of the tree-structured file system, and the Data Area, where the actual user data goes.

    This command does not touch the MBR or the user data area, which is why a formatted hard drive can often be recovered if no program has overwritten the data area."


    A Low-Level format is something that should not be done, (except in an emergency), on a modern EIDE hard drive once it leaves the factory. Not only will it usually void the warranty ... but it can physically damage the disk.

    You had absolutely no reason to run this kind of format on the drive. All you had to do was delete the active partition, create a new one, and format the partition as NTFS. In fact, during the installation, you would have been given a chance to convert the partition to NTFS, even if it was FAT 32 when you started.

    Some programs can be dangerous, even if downloaded from the manufacturer's website.

    At this point ... my only advice would be for you to Low-Level format the drive again, (despite my previous warnings!) and hope that the utility can repair the sectors. In the old days, with old FAT 12 drives, that's what I would have done. If it doesn't work ... save up your money and buy a new drive. And delete that LLF utility ... you don't need it. There's another utility on the IBM website that will test the integrity of the drive media without formatting, or overwriting the data on the disk. That's the one you should be using. You can put it on a floppy, and it will function as a boot disk, even in Win2K.

    Sorry, dude. Wish I could have told you something that sounded positive about your situation.

    Live and learn, right?


    <font color=purple>If there was a reason for everything, having faith would be redundant.</font color=purple>
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