Hard drive replacement questions

I have a Gateway laptop and it has been acting weird lately. It has a 500GB Seagate hard drive in it. I ran the Seatools diagnostic software on the drive and it did NOT pass the test. Informed me to back up the data now & then stated the following:

Unfortunately, your Seagate product has failed an important diagnostic test, possibly caused by problem sectors which are difficult to read. Seagate recommends that you run SeaTools for DOS, which has the ability to repair most problem sectors. SeaTools for DOS may be able to save you from the inconvenience and down time of exchanging the drive.

I was thinking of just replacing the drive as it appears to be failing, but after chatting online with a Gateway tech, they are telling me I should simply do a system restore. They said if the drive was failing it wouldn't be detected in the BIOS (and presumabely wouldn't boot up at all either). In other words, it either works or it doesn't.

I am willing to basically wipe the drive out and reload Windows 7 from scratch (as I have already backed up important data), but what is probably the better route here:

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  1. The Gateway advice is wrong. It is true that, IF the faulty sectors of the HDD happen to contain key files in the OS, it might fail to boot completely. It is NOT true that the BIOS would not see it at all. And certainly, the machine can boot and run OK as long as the bad sectors happen to be used for data files you have not accessed yet.

    SO, the fact that the HDD is detected properly in BIOS and it can boot does NOT prove it is OK. On the other hand, the Seatools software tells you you have a serious problem, and I'm sure that is right. You actually have three options:

    1. Forget the hassle - just buy a new HDD, install, and re-Install Win 7 and all your app software, then restore user files from your backup.
    2. Use Seatools for DOS to zero-fill the entire drive. This triggers a drive's own self-fixing process which MAY find and replace any bad sectors with good ones so that it appears ALL OK again. Then treat it like a new HDD - see #1 above. HOWEVER, it is possible that the drive has persistent problems and, even if this works, more problems will emerge later.
    3. Use Seatools for DOS to do a thorough set of diagnostics on the HDD, and copy down the resulting data. Seagate or Gateway will want to see those results before agreeing to replace the failed unit under warranty (assuming it does fail).

    Seatools for DOS is a slightly different version from the Seatools you have used, I'm guessing. You download it from the Seagate website for free as an .iso image file. Then you need some CD-burning software (like Nero, but there are many) able to burn the .iso file to your own CDR disk. This disk becomes your boot disk. You can boot your machine from the CD (need to set your BIOS to do this) and it loads its own mini-DOS into RAM and creates a RAM disk to write files to. You do NOT need any working HDD to get your machine booted this way. Then it offers you a menu of testing tools and disk "fixing" tools, plus ways to copy any result files it creates out onto your USB thumb drive. If the diagnostics say the HDD has serious failures, get it replaced. Don't bet that you can fix it and rely on it in the future.
  2. if the drive is under warranty then let gateway send you a new drive. They are full of bologna obviously. If seatools says the drive is failing they thats all they would need to warranty the drive (i been thru that). Tom e it sounds like they (gateway) is trying to save a few bucks by not sending you a new drive.

    Whatever you do. baclkup your data and make your recovery disks. When the harddrive dies so does your f10/f11 factory restore option if gateway does that too. The replacement drive will be completely blank and they will want at least $10 to send you out new dvds that might not even work.
  3. Unfortunately, the laptop is no longer under warranty (about 2yrs old) so Gateway will not replace or fix anything regarding it. I even looked into maybe replacing just the drive from Seagate directly, but unfortunately they will not simply replace it either since its basically part of a package (based on its serial number).

    I am thinking my best bet here is to just get a totally new hard drive. I already have a 500GB Western Digital one picked out so just need to pull the trigger. I did also actually make the (four) recovery DVDs so am set there too, but I also have a regular Windows 7 disc so can install that from scratch as well (& not possibly have all the bloated Gateway software on it).

    I was then also gonna get an inexpensive 2.5 USB SATA enclosure kit to put the old drive in & keep it stored. Then if I remember something I need to get off of it that I forgot, I can pull it out and (hopefully) retrieve as needed. Otherwise, I have pretty much gotten my important data off of it.
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