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The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)Another Non-Linux Question!

From weasel_90 on 02 Aug 1998


I have a 1.2GB Hard Drive. It has a few Bad Clusters, which are mostly at the end of the drive. Everytime I use Scandisk it freezes on 99%. All my programs run fine, but sometimes they freeze and I have to reboot the computer. I assume it is accessing data from the bad clusters and it freezes sometimes. I thought scandisk was suppose to mark bad clusters and tell the computer not to use them. Is there any way that is really safe where I can either seperate or put all those bad clusters away so that the computer doesn't use them and store data on them? I would appreciate your help. This one has stumped me. Thank You!

(!)So, what happens when you install Linux and run the 'badblocks' program (or make the filesystem using the mke2fs -c option)?
This may seem like an unsatisfying answer --- but you should probably be aware that "tag@lists.linuxgazette.net" is for the "Linux Gazette Answer Guy." I volunteer my time to answer questions that related to Linux. I do that to show my appreciation for all the effort that Linus Torvalds, Alan Cox, Stephen Tweedie, Ted T'so, and hundreds of other programmers have put into creating the operating system that I use.
I do NOT volunteer my time to answer questions that are purely about Microsoft's operating system (or any other proprietary software, for that matter). The companies that produce these products can pay for their own support staff. If they choose not to do so, or are otherwise unwilling or unable to provide you with support that meets your needs --- you should probably reconsider your purchasing decisions.
Since I suffer from a compulsion to answer questions thoroughly here's a few suggestions:
Your obvious alternative would be to replace that drive with a newer, less defective one. Normal, modern IDE and SCSI drives have extra sectors on every track which are "mapped" over any bad sectors on that track. Thus it is relatively rare for bad sectors to be visible to the operating system's drivers. You could put the new drive in as the "master" and you could install Linux over the old drive --- just to learn more about it.
Another alternative would be to use something like the Norton Utilities. Perhaps one of those is more robust than the accessories that came with your OS.
If none of that works, backup your system, re-install the OS from scratch and see if the re-FORMAT detects and properly handles these bad sectors --- or re-partition, make the last partition a couple of percent smaller and then re-install.
If you don't have a backup system which is sufficiently reliable and of sufficient capacity to do a full system backup and restore --- then you're hopeless.
While we're on the subject of "hopeless" --- it may seem awfully curmudgeonly of me, but surely some of these options must have occurred to you. I really hope that you weren't actually "stumped" by this!

Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 32 September 1998

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