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The options are to replace or repair. How to do that conveniently is the big question.

I have a desktop PC with Vista Ultimate OS original licensed version that I use for personal use. The problem is that the PC shows the hard disk is going to crash. I've formatted it almost three times, but soon the PC shows an error sign and finally ends up with something like, "Please insert Windows reinstall/repair bootable CD provided by the manufacturer" and "Some of your Windows files are corrupted and need reinstalling. The hard disk is about to crash. Please immediately backup the data." After inserting the disc, it just keeps on the blank screen for some time and restarts with the same instructions on the screen. Finally, I reformatted the entire hard drive, which after one to two days, shows the above screen again. I've got a Seagate, 1TB, SADTA drive and it's under warranty. They say it will take one month to fix. What's your suggestion on the above problem?

In this excerpt from Answercast #44, I look at a hard drive that is giving failure warnings. Those warnings are probably accurate.

Hard drive about to crash

Well, unfortunately, I really do believe the problem is you've got a failing hard drive.

Everything points to:

  • The hard drive telling the operating system that it's failing;

  • The operating system telling you that the hard drive is failing;

And as a result, everything that you've done to it isn't going to fix it:

  • Reformatting clearly didn't fix it.

  • Reinstalling clearly didn't fix it.

Replacing the hard drive

Now, there's two directions you can go.

Given that the hard drive is under warranty – well, that's kind of convenient. I mean you can get the hard drive replaced or repaired, but you're without it for a month. So, the only way for that to be a practical solution is for you to buy a replacement hard drive, send the original off for warranty repair, and when it comes back, you'll have two.

Hard drive repair

Another approach that you might consider (it could potentially be cheaper – I'm not sure) is to go out and get a copy of SpinRite.

SpinRite, I believe, runs about $95 and it is possible (not guaranteed), but it is possible that running SpinRite on that drive will fix the errors that the operating system and the format were unable to fix.

SpinRite guarantee

If it doesn't, the folks at SpinRite are really good about refunding your money. In other words, if SpinRite doesn't solve whatever problem it is you're attempting to look at, they will in fact refund your money so you're actually not out anything if it doesn't work.

Replace or repair

Those would be the two things I would try.

In my case, since I have a copy of SpinRite lying around, it is the first thing I would go to; I would run SpinRite right away and see if it can do something.

What's neat about SpinRite is that if you've got an installed system on the drive, it's very possible that SpinRite could fix the problems on the drive without actually requiring that you reformat or reinstall anything. It's possible – not always, but it's typically what happens.

Like I said, if you don't want SpinRite, then I really think your options are down to getting yourself another drive, replacing the drive you have – hopefully either restoring from a backup (or since you've reinstalled Windows from scratch recently, that may be the way to go here), and then sending that drive in for warranty repair.

When it comes back, you'll have a spare drive, or a second drive.

Article C5695 - August 15, 2012 « »

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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.

Not what you needed?

Lloyd J
August 17, 2012 8:47 AM

Personally, I have nothing against SpinRite, but I would rather just get a brand new hard drive - it's about the same cost (or less) and then you "know" you have something that works.

I would use SpinRite as a method to try and keep the old drive going long enough to get the unbacked up data off of it - and even then with continuous online backup that isn't even really an issue anymore for me. (Although, for clients, that can clearly be an issue).

Scott Currier
August 17, 2012 9:28 AM

I have been doing some retro computing lately. I've got some old notebooks and have been getting them going with software from the 90's. It's been fun. I've had some drives with problems and I've been amazed at what Spinrite has done. As I write this I am running Spinrite on a 20gb notebook drive that has some bad areas on it. Will be interesting to see how it does. I had a 2gb notebook drive that was pretty much unusable until I ran Spinrite on it. It's been fine since.

Spinrite isn't cheap. It's a great utility for a computer hobbiest like myself because over time I'll get my money's worth out of it. For someone who doesn't have data to try to get back, it probably makes more sense to put the money into a new hard drive.

If GRC would lower the cost of Spinrite down to 50 bucks then it may make sense to buy Spinrite, see if you can get the old drive going again and have Spinrite for problems in the future. I agree with LLoyd in that replacing the drive is safer. But it would be nice to be able to fix the other drive and use it as a secondary drive if it can be done economically.

The price of Spinrite is around the price of a 1tb drive, depending on the deal, it's more expensive than a 1tb drive. I think it's time to lower the price.

I'm glad I bought my copy, as a computer hobbiest at home and IT pro at work, I've gotten my money's worth out of it.

bob price
August 17, 2012 11:38 AM

Why does Seagate take a month? That alone would prevent me from ever buying another Seagate drive. I would demand they send me a new drive now, which is what WD would do, copy the data from old to new, and then send them the old drive. You have to use your CCN to get the new drive, but it's credited when they get the old one. I thought all drive makers did this. WD sure does.

August 17, 2012 2:38 PM

Buying a new hard drive will fix the problem.SpinRite is a big maybe at a rather hefty price.
I have used SpinRite about 5 times with mixed results can take a week of continuous running to try to retrieve data and the hard drive runs very hot,sometimes the PC even closed down because of heat.

August 21, 2012 4:36 PM

I've used Spinrite for several days none stop on four or five drives, not one byte of data was recovered. Maybe I'm doing something wrong but I doubt it, it's simple enough to run. The last drive took 96 hours none stop, result - zilch. Go for a new drive every time.

The real value in SpinRite isn't in saving a hard drive that's cheaply replaced. SpinRite's real value is in recovering data that's not been otherwise backed up from a failed drive. No, it doesn't always work (and they have a liberal return policy), but in some cases SpinRite pays for itself several times over when it recovers valuable data that would otherwise be lost forever.

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