Back in the 90s, it was not unusual to see someone complain about how their hard drives crashed and how it was full of bad sectors. People used to give advice not to buy anything other than Seagate hard drives because they were considered less prone to physical wear and damage. But hard drives manufacturers have been churning out much better quality storage media these days and you no longer hear about bad sectors, physical damage or total hard drive failures anymore. Besides the world has moved on to solid state drives (SSD) and hard drives are not that popular anymore.
But if you have any old hard drives lying around holding some of your data from old time, then you can scan them for any physical damage or bad sectors using the open-source tool Hard Disk Validator. This tool works in four modes –
- Read – Tries to read data from a sector. Shows the sector as bad (red) if data reading fails.
- Read + Wipe Damaged + Read – Tries to read normally. If data read error is encountered, wipes the damaged sector (overwrites them with random data) and attempts to read them again. If error is still encountered, then they are marked bad (red).
- Read + Write + Verify + Restore – Tries to read. If reading is successful, writes a test data. If writing is successful, restores the original data. If reading or writing fails, it marks the sector as bad.
- Write + Verify – Does not read anything. Tries to write random data and verifies it. If it fails to write, then marks the sector as damaged. This process overwrites the entire hard drive and you lose all the data.
For reading tests, the damaged sectors are marked red and good sectors are marked green. For over-writing test, the good sectors are marked white. You can stop the test in the middle and export the log to clipboard.
Verdict: Hard Disk Validator is not a very comprehensive hard drive testing tool and might help you to find and to an extent fix the problems. But it should not be used by novice users as some options can lead to complete hard drive data loss.
You can download Hard Disk Validator from https://github.com/TalAloni/HardDiskValidator.