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Ubuntu says I have bad sectors on my laptop (186 of them to be exact) and sometimes can't even boot - I'm running a live CD now. Is it the end for my HD?

If yes, any recommendations for a good laptop HD? My machine is Compaq Presario CQ60.

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If it's really reallocated sectors and not just raw read errors or something like that, I wouldn't trust that HDD any more. –  arrange Aug 27 '11 at 18:30
    
As for the recommandation, if you've got the money, buy an SSD. –  Georg Schölly Aug 27 '11 at 18:37

5 Answers 5

I have personal experience with bad sectors on laptop, so Ubuntu was right when warning message appeared. I printed out a screenshot (by Disk Utility) with information about bad sectors. Being under 2-years warranty, a local repair service center has changed faulty HDD without any question.

Regarding a new HDD. Buy SSD drive - it's fast and shock-proof and energy-saving solution, yet it's expensive :)

Good luck, Vincenzo

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Quite likely your hard drive has some form of physical damage and unless it is an older, slower drive, I would suggest you replace it ASAP. If you cannot boot you're in even more trouble. To avoid data corruption, don't try to access the hard drive until you have bought a new one.

I would suggest a regular drive at 7200 rpm or so, or an SSD if you are not going to be doing a lot of high activity things on it (SSDs can be "worn out" by too many read/write cycles a bit faster than a regular HDD).

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You are right about SSD read/write cycles. I know that new SSD drives are more robust to read/write worn, and they are much faster than regular HDD. Regarding 7200 rpm HDD. Yes, it's faster than 5400 rpm, but there are 2 notes to take into account: a) unfortunately 7200 HDDs tend to overheating due to high-velocity friction between plate and air (max service temp ~60 deg.Celsius), b) 7200 rpm consume more energy (+ 1..3 Watts). –  Vincenzo Aug 27 '11 at 19:01

In any case... Backup frequently. But I would also recommend using a SSD on a laptop since they aren't that affected by shock. For instance, I once ruined my HD on my way home from work. I thought I had configured the laptop to suspend when the lid was closed, but I hadn't. So I closed the lid and put it in my backpack and walked home. I wasn't running or anything like that, and it was only a few hundred meters, but still... I got thousands of bad sectors and had to replace it. That would not have happened to an SSD.

I was about to say you can print SMART results in Palimpsest, but it doesn't look like you can. But you can use run "sudo smartctl -a /dev/diskname" to get some very useful output. If you add it to your question, I'm sure the answers will improve.

In the meantime, I'm filing a bug report about Palimpsest. :)

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you do:

  1. backup (and pray all important data is still there)
  2. get a new drive
  3. install a new system and restore/recover data from the backup
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Way to give your HDD some more life

One thing I looked into a lot on the net and found out myself, is what to do when you start getting some "bad sectors", a problem I came across with my HDD which recently caused boot failure just out of nowhere and received the "treatment" I explain.

1. Backup your data

2. Get a new disk, especially if you can do it for free (warranty).

3. Try to give your HDD an orientation. I mean, tell ALL its little magnetic spaces (sorry I am not an engineer) to have the same polarity (seems they get a little crazy after some overwrites...) Best and easiest way to do that is by a zerofill, which makes your entire disk like 000000000000..., but there are also some Windows apps like DRevitalize that do pretty much something like that in not so uniform a way (and without losing data supposingly-never tried it to be honest)

You can do a zerofill by a LLF (low level format), or a slow format (device, not just partition) in Ubuntu's Disks GUI, or through your terminal, using the "shred" command: sudo shred -n 0 -v -z /dev/sdX (where sdX the disk you want to erase) and probably in a million other ways, I don't think it matters that much how you do it.

I tried a 2-pass zerofill on a disk with 250 bad sectors and 75 more "pending". It eliminated the "pending" sectors somehow and significantly improved access times for some 2500 more sectors, from "<500ms" to "<150ms" (surface test with HDDScan). I guess some of those would soon become "bad" and remains to see if I can expect a time gain of days, weeks or more...

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