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Monday, March 25, 2002

Hard disk needs proper alignment
Vipul Verma

THE most common problem related to hardware is of bad sectors in the hard disk. The bad sectors represent the damaged part of the tracks and clusters, on which the data can be written and any present data cannot be accessed. This is a risky situation as it can bring down your PC to standstill and can cause extensive damage to your hard disk in terms of loss of data. So, bad sectors in a hard disk cannot be ignored. The bad sectors could be caused by many reasons, which include viruses, wrong alignment of hard disk, frequent improper Windows shutdown as there are several other reason for it. However, by regular maintenance like scandisk you can restrict the chances of having the bad sectors on your hard disk. But if once bad sectors arise, then it is difficult to contain them and they normally have a tendency to grow.

The bad sectors can also move from one partition to another. Therefore if you have bad sectors in one partition, then it is most likely that the bad sectors can affect the other partitions of your hard disk also. Now the big question is how to tackle the problem of bad sectors in the hard disk.


As mentioned before, the most basic solution of handling the bad sectors is the Microsoft DOS 6.2X tools like scan disk and CHKDSK. It works well, if the number of the bad sectors is not too many in your hard disk. The often forgotten tool CHKDSK can sometime prove helpful as it not only checks the status of your hard drive and reports errors but can correct any problems like possible allocation or cross-linked file problems, by giving the command CHKDSK with the /f switch. i.e. chkdsk/f and press Enter. ScanDisk is a more advanced tool and can handle the problems of hard disk easily. Moreover it is the most basic utility and the mother of all troubleshooting techniques. Though there are many other third party disk utilities also, which compares well with the Scandisk, and some of these utilities are Norton Disk Doctor, PC-TOOLS, DiskFix etc. These disks can come handy in case of any emergency related to your hard disk problems and it is also helpful in case of fixing the bad sectors.

Now imagine a situation, when you have too many bad sectors in your hard disk. This is actually a do or die situation as your system can come to standstill anytime and cause extensive damage in terms of loss of data. In this situation, it is better to low level format your hard disk and clear all bad sectors of the hard disk. By low level format you can recover the bad sectors and can make your hard disk reusable, though the tendency of developing the bad sectors remains there in the hard disk, but it give you good relief.

For recovering the bad sectors and low level formatting. Save the file Killhdd.bat to a floppy boot disk with the program DEBUG.EXE on it. Boot up with the floppy disk and run Killhdd.bat to remove all data on the first hard disk on your computer. You can edit the file to change the disk it will clear. This will remove everything from your disks, including the errors. One you've done that, just reboot and use your hard drive as if it were brand new.

This is how you can get rid of the bad sectors on your hard disk. Once you notice bad sectors, use the third party disk utilities like Norton Utilities etc.

Another major problem related to the hard disk is of improper alignment, which can cause not only noise but can also cause damage your hard disk beyond repair. Hard disk is in fact a handle with care item and you should not take it lightly. For the proper care of your hard disk first of all you should tighten all screws of your hard disk in the cabinet and should not set it loose.

As far as possible use the hard disk in the lowest bay, that is one below the floppy drive and avoid using the hard disk in the large upper bays using the extra bay. It is a matter of fact that the SMPS generates electromagnetic radiations, which can damage your hard disk. Therefore you can choose any space, which is not in line with the SMPS. Another care, which would be useful, is not to touch any components of the hard disk that are below it and are open.

Human body has electrostatic current, which can damage your hard disk. Also for storing the hard disk, you should use its original non-electrostatic packaging and should not keep it on just any surface. This logic applies not only to the hard disk but applies to all components of the computer like motherboard, cards, processor and RAM. You must have noticed also that the hard disk comes packed in a special type of material packaging. This is specifically being made to avoid electrostatic electricity. Therefore for handling your hard disk, use the anti electrostatic wrist band and always hold the hard disk with edges only. Also one should take care by not to touch it, when the hard disk is on. This is very risky and cause extensive damage to your hard disk and other components.