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Repartitioning is not an effective way to deal with CRC errors or bad sectors. At best repartitioning will only hide or delay the error.

I've got a 500 GB slave HD which was partitioned 2 partitions and a 160GB HD as a master HD. I use Utorrent as a torrents client. Weeks ago I started getting this error message by utorrent: "Error: data error ( cyclic redundancy check )" when downloading to my slave HD ( my master HD works fine). Chkdsk started to report bad sectors so I've deleted the partition with partition magic and created it again and bad sectors were gone. But this error keeps coming back; I even partitioned it to 6 partitions but no use. The system file is ntfs.

Unfortunately, while changing the partitioning on your hard drive can make it seem like a bad sector has disappeared, it hasn't. All it has done is rearranged things so that if you don't run across the error soon, you'll almost certainly run across it later.

Put more bluntly: repartitioning will not fix bad sectors.

Partitioning, like formatting, is nothing more than a process that arranges information on your hard disk in a certain way. Specifically, partitioning is an approach that takes a single physical disk, and breaks it into "logical" partitions that look like individual disks.

"... repartitioning will not fix bad sectors."

Here's what that means:

First, a single 320GB disk with C: as a single 320GB partition:

A single 320GB disk with a single 320GB partition

Now, let's look at that same, single, 320GB drive, but this time partitioned in two: an 80GB C: and a 240GB D:

A single 320GB disk drive, split into two partitions.

In fact, you can keep going if you like:

A single 320GB disk drive, split into five partitions.

Partitioning is not at all uncommon as a way to manage hard disk space, and how it's used.

The key, though, is that partitioning is nothing more than a way to arrange data on the hard drive. It actually doesn't do anything physical to the drive, other than writing specific data that tells the operating system where the partitions start and end.

A bad sector, however, is most often a physical error.

I'll take each of those three disks above, and put a indicate a physical error on each with a red dot:

A single 320GB disk with a single 320GB partition - with a bad sector A single 320GB disk drive, split into two partitions - with a bad sector A single 320GB disk drive, split into five partitions - with a bad sector

The bad sector remains in the same place on the physical disk, but where it shows up - drive C:, D: or E: in the examples above will vary depending on how the disk was partitioned.

But it's still there.

Regardless of how the disk is partitioned, there are two approaches to try to fix them:

  • Run the Windows Command-line tool CHKDSK /R (for "Recover") on the partition that shows the error. (Hence, C:, D: or E: respectively using the three example images above). This is one area where partitioning can save you just a little time: the C: partition cannot be CHKDSK'ed while your system is running - you must reboot so that CHKDSK can run before Windows starts up. Other partitions can typically be CHKDSK'ed at any time.

  • Run a more in-depth tool like SpinRite. If CHKDSK /R can't recover a bad sector, it's possible that SpinRite can. You'll need to weigh the cost of SpinRite against, perhaps, the cost of a new drive, since drives are so inexpensive these days, but it's often worth it in the time and hassle savings alone.

But as you can see, repartitioning to actually fix the bad sector isn't on the list; it won't help.

Article C3873 - September 19, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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7 Comments
JustInspired
September 22, 2009 9:19 AM

Being in the PC repair business I have found that once a drive starts developing bad sectors it is often a (bad) sign of things to come. Be prepared to have to replace the drive sooner or later and BACKUP, BACKUP and BACKUP!

Tom Clark
September 22, 2009 9:46 AM

Spinrite has come through for me many times - in fact I now run it as a preventive measure about every six months. The money is well spent as the license belongs to you, and is not restricted to a single PC.

If Spinrite can not correct the CRC errors it will map around the area so that it is not available for use. Most commonly it will "fix" the error.

I have only ever had one drive on which Spinrite did not cure the issue - and someone else had "worked on it" before I was called in.

Gary
September 22, 2009 4:51 PM

how can i easily save information from one computer to say a stand alone hard drive. information transfer?

Depends on your specifics. "Copy the files" is the short answer.
Leo
23-Sep-2009

Eddie
September 28, 2009 3:56 AM

I get this CRC error on a flask key I own .Would I be better of buying another key.I was using it to transfer info from 1 PC to another.

Yes. Flash drives, once they start showing errors, are almost never fixable.
Leo
28-Sep-2009

Dan
March 10, 2010 3:39 AM

After a search for bad sectors is initiated and remapped, where is this information stored? Is it in the G-LIST of the hard drive's data or is it stored in the partition of the drive? I used Window's XP's Disk Error Checking application choosing the "Scan for and attempt to recover bad sectors".

My concern is that I had 9,737 bad sectors on a 250GB laptop hard drive which took over 24 hours to scan. If I repartition the drive for use in linux (change the partition from NTFS to EXT4) or to connect to a device that requires a different partition table (i.e. FAT32), will all those remapped bad sectors need to be scanned again and allocated to avoid read-write errors?

Rafael Bastidas
December 18, 2010 8:01 AM

Ok, here's my question: Can I partition the drive to isolate the bad sectors on a partition that I won't use? What about the rest of the drive, will it be reliable? I won't be storing IMPORTANT data on it, but will I have to face the fact that sooner or later the drive will pass away?

The article you just commented on pretty clearly answers your first question. As for the implications on the rest of the drive or longevity, I don't think you can really infer anything unless you see new bad sectors continually appearing, in which case yes, I'd replace the drive.
Leo
18-Dec-2010

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