I suspect there might be bad sector on a disk. I used ext3 filesystem.

What tool is the best equivalent of the error checking tool of Windows?


8 Answers 8



To check for bad sectors check the SMART data, probably the best accessible by launching the Disks utility (Palimpsest). Even if you don't see any bad blocks there, launch a self-test to be sure.

The program is bundled in the gnome-disk-utility package. Run gksudo gnome-disks

SMART from Palimpsest

Or in Ubuntu 16.04 version (3.18):

SMART from Disks


You can also use badblocks

sudo badblocks -sv /dev/sda

to just check, or to check and fix first write the result to a temporary file:

sudo badblocks -sv /dev/sda  > bad-blocks-result
sudo fsck -t ext4 -l bad-blocks-result /dev/sda1

will check the whole disk and print out all bad blocks encountered on /dev/sda.

From badblocks manual:

Important note: If the output of badblocks is going to be fed to the e2fsck or mke2fs programs, it is important that the block size is properly specified, since the block numbers which are generated are very dependent on the block size in use by the filesystem. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that users not run badblocks directly, but rather use the -c option of the e2fsck and mke2fs programs.


fsck itself will not help you find bad sectors, worse still, if there are a lot of bad sectors it can damage your data even more. Use it only when the disk is healthy.

  • 4
    Actually badblocks's manual discourages from using it directly and directs users to e2fsck with "-c" (for read only check) or "-cc" (for read write check) option.
    – mrówa
    Apr 29, 2013 at 21:01
  • 2
    as a note, on 13.04 you run palimpsest by just running "disks" from the ubuntu menu, however...I dont' see an option to launch a self-test (possibly because I have only one drive, and it's the one running Ubuntu...)
    – rogerdpack
    Oct 11, 2013 at 14:04
  • 2
    @mrówa the manual only says to do that if "the output of badblocks is going to be fed to the e2fsck or mke2fs programs"
    – Jon
    Dec 23, 2013 at 14:31
  • 1
    Put info that to list all disks use sudo fdisk -l
    – Kangarooo
    Feb 26, 2014 at 4:25
  • 4
    this is now called gnome-disks
    – endolith
    Mar 2, 2014 at 0:47

Throughout this answer I'll assume, that a storage drive appears as a block device at the path /dev/sdc. To find the path of a storage drive in our current setup, use:

  • Gnome Disks Install Gnome Disks (formerly Gnome Disk Utility, a. k. a. palimpsest), if a GUI is available, or
  • on the terminal look at the output of lsblk and ls -l /dev/disk/by-id and try to find the right device by size, partitioning, manufacturer and model name.

Basic check

  • only detects entirely unresponsive media
  • almost instantaneous (unless medium is spun down or broken)
  • safe
  • works on read-only media (e. g. CD, DVD, BluRay)

Sometimes a storage medium simply refuses to work at all. It still appears as a block device to the kernel and in the disk manager, but its first sector holding the partition table is not readable. This can be verified easily with:

sudo dd if=/dev/sdc of=/dev/null count=1

If this command results in a message about an “Input/output error”, our drive is broken or otherwise fails to interact with the Linux kernel as expected. In the a former case, with a bit of luck, a data recovery specialist with an appropriately equipped lab can salvage its content. In the latter case, a different operating system is worth a try. (I've come across USB drives that work on Windows without special drivers, but not on Linux or OS X.)

S.M.A.R.T. self-test

  • adjustable thoroughness
  • instantaneous to slow or slower (depends on thoroughness of the test)
  • safe
  • warns about likely failure in the near future

Devices that support it, can be queried about their health through S.M.A.R.T. or instructed to perform integrity self-tests of different thoroughness. This is generally the best option, but usually only available on (non-ancient) hard disk and solid state drives. Most removable flash media don't support it.

Further resources and instructions:

Read-only check

  • only detects some flash media errors
  • quite reliable for hard disks
  • slow
  • safe
  • works on read-only media (e. g. CD, DVD, BluRay)

To test the read integrity of the whole device without writing to it, we can use badblocks(8) like this:

sudo badblocks -b 4096 -c 4096 -s /dev/sdc

This operation can take a lot of time, especially if the storage drive actually is damaged. If the error count rises above zero, we'll know that there's a bad block. We can safely abort the operation at any moment (even forcefully like during a power failure), if we're not interested in the exact amount (and maybe location) of bad blocks. It's possible to abort automatically on error with the option -e 1.

Note for advanced usage: if we want to reuse the output for e2fsck, we need to set the block size (-b) to that of the contained file system. We can also tweak the amount of data (-c, in blocks) tested at once to improve throughput; 16 MiB should be alright for most devices.

Non-destructive read-write check

  • very thorough
  • slowest
  • quite safe (barring a power failure or intermittent kernel panic)

Sometimes – especially with flash media – an error only occurs when trying to write. (This will not reliably discover (flash) media, that advertise a larger size, than they actually have; use Fight Flash Fraud instead.)

  • NEVER use this on a drive with mounted file systems! badblocks refuses to operate on those anyway, unless you force it.

  • Don't interrupt this operation forcefully! Ctrl+C (SIGINT/SIGTERM) and waiting for graceful premature termination is ok, but killall -9 badblocks (SIGKILL) isn't. Upon forceful termination badblocks cannot restore the original content of the currently tested block range and will leave it overwritten with junk data and possibly corrupt the file system.

To use non-destructive read-write checks, add the -n option to the above badblocks command.

Destructive read-write check

  • very thorough
  • slower

As above, but without restoring the previous drive content after performing the write test, therefore it's a little faster. Since data is erased anyway, forceful termination remains without (additional) negative consequence.

To use destructive read-write checks, add the -w option to the above badblocks command.

  • Hi David - thats an extremely useful condensed tutorial - thanks! May I point out the error in the "Basic check" area? $sudo dd if=/dev/sdc of=/dev/null count=1 should be $sudo dd if=/dev/null of=/dev/sdc count=1 Source >> Destination
    Jan 12, 2020 at 10:23
  • 1
    @CRTLBREAK: Thanks for the praise. The aforementioned command is no mistake at all. It serves as a very simple read test of the first drive sector which requires the drive block device on the input end (if=). Jan 13, 2020 at 1:03

fsck - check and repair a Linux file system. Invoke it using

fsck /dev/sda1

where /dev/sda1 is the drive you want to check. See 'man fsck' for more details.

There's also 'badblocks' command which checks a device for, you guessed it, bad blocks.

The drive need to be unmounted when checked, so to check the root partition you need to create a file 'forcefsck' in the root of the partition and reboot. The device will be checked upon the next boot:

sudo touch /forcefsck
sudo reboot

Alternatively, you can boot from a Live CD and run the check from there.

  • Thanks, the machine is running without a monitor, is there a way to access the output of the check after the reboot? Aug 29, 2011 at 3:58
  • I created the file and rebooted, but it was really quick and there is nothing new in the boot.log. Aug 29, 2011 at 4:14
  • fsck just do a very quick check, I tried option -c to check for the bad block. Aug 29, 2011 at 7:00
  • fsck -c just said : /dev/sda9: Updating bad block inode. I have no info on how many bad node and which proportion of the file system they represent. Aug 29, 2011 at 14:09
  • 1
    sudo dumpe2fs -b /dev/sda9. But I think it is better if the disk takes care of faulty sectors, not the filesystem (SMART, badblocks etc, see my post).
    – arrange
    Aug 29, 2011 at 16:29


IMO smartctl is a better tool. You likely have to install it first

sudo apt-get install smartmontools 


sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda | less

to print drive health data, attributes, and available test results. To quit less, type q. Alternatively

sudo smartctl -H /dev/sda

to just print health data.

To begin a new short (a few minutes) or long (up to many hours) self test in background:

sudo smartctl -t [short|long]

GSsmartControl (home page) and Gnome Disks are graphical front ends if you prefer.

See also

  • 5
    Great solution, if the device supports SMART. Many (cheap) removable flash drives and very old hard drives don't. Oct 20, 2014 at 2:30
  • I was initially stumped when smartctl reported: "Unknown USB bridge", "Please specify device type with the -d option". I found the data I needed at: smartmontools.org/wiki/Supported_USB-Devices. Nov 1, 2015 at 5:26


You can check for badblocks running the command

  1. sudo badblocks -nsv /dev/[device-partition] > bad-blocks-result for a non-destructive read-write test. That will generate a file called bad-blocks-result with the sectors damaged.
    • -n Use non-destructive read-write mode. By default only a non-destructive read-only test is done.

    • -s Show the progress of the scan by writing out rough percentage completion of the current badblocks pass over the disk.

    • -v Verbose mode.

  2. Then, you can run sudo fsck -t ext3 -l bad-blocks-result /dev/[device-partition] to tell the file system where the bad sectors are and move data away from them, if possible.

You can find more reading about it here.

  • 1
    To continue with badblocks later or if you forgot to export the bad sector to a text file (like me) this answer will help you: superuser.com/a/693000/218025
    – chelder
    Jan 21, 2015 at 18:22
  • can I use badblocks to check my windows partition? Or will it somehow may damage it ?
    – Private
    Jul 29, 2016 at 20:14
  • 1
    @Private If you have a new question, please use the "Ask a question" link at the top.
    – John
    May 28, 2017 at 3:45
  • The fsck command fails with btrfs file systems. Feb 28, 2019 at 7:40

F3 (Fight Flash Fraud) is another option which should additionally detect fake flash drives (flash drives whose actual capacity is a fraction of advertised capacity):

  1. Install F3

    sudo apt install f3
  2. Insert your drive

  3. Write test data to the free space on the drive (check where your drive is mounted with lsblk)

    f3write /media/$USER/D871-DD7C/
  4. Read the test data

    f3read /media/$USER/D871-DD7C/


Badblocks works well but it isn't designed for detecting fake flash drives and may not report any errors for them.

  • badblocks with -w or with fsck mark sectors as bad/damaged so they are not used. f3 can return something like Corrupted: 16.01 MB (32784 sectors), but does mark those as bad sectors? Or we still need badblocks for that? I'm trying with dumpe2fs -b and it seems id doesn't mark. Mar 19, 2019 at 6:17

You can test-read the entire disk, while showing a progress indicator:

time sudo pv /dev/sdc >/dev/null

Certain disk problems would manifest as reported I/O errors. This is a bit nicer than dd due to the progress indicator and because the command-line interface is a bit more standard and a bit less typo-prone. Note that pv is basically and enhanced version of cat. It may not be installed by default, but can be installed with sudo apt-get install pv.

A similar approach is to read the disk with one of the several available tools that are specifically aware of disk I/O errors -- and have the feature of "trying hard to rescue data". Search for ddrescue in the package manager.

  • This will not detect issues that appear only during write access and it won't report the affected region of the storage medium that one would need to fix or work around the issue. dd count=1 is also pretty fast unless the storage medium is utterly broken (or unsupported). Mar 19, 2017 at 9:17
  • See also: ddrescueview Mar 1, 2018 at 19:18
  • Since GNU Coreutils 8.24+ dd has a progress indicator with status=progress. Mar 19, 2019 at 1:25

If you have a partition that you CAN NOT LOOSE THE DATA follow these steps

  1. Determine which partition you want to check for bad sector using the

$fdisk -l commnd

Lets assume that the partition to check is called /dev/sdPTC (partition to check) and that you have another partition to store the results mounted on /scan/resultPath/ folder

2.Then you can run this command

$sudo badblocks -v /dev/sdPTC > /scan/resultPath/badsectors.txt

which will determine what are the bad blocks of the given device and store them on a file called badsectors.txt

  1. Now you can use fsck command to tell Ubuntu not to use the bad sectors mentioned in the badsectors.txt file.

$sudo fsck -l /scan_result/badsectors.txt /dev/sda

That way life of the hard disk is increased a bit until you get a new one for replacement.

If you have a complete partition that you want to check for bad physical sectors and you CAN AFFORD LOOSE ALL DATA on that partition or is EMPTY follow these steps

  1. $sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility

  2. $sudo gnome-disks

  3. Check and double check that there is no important data on that partition

  4. Using gnome-disks DELETE/REMOVE the partition by hand using the "-" sign

  5. Using gnome-disks CREATE a new partition and select the "slow" option that will check the given space for errors

enter image description here

  • Does it matter which Ubuntu version it is? Does bionic beaver handle disk checks differently? Oct 21, 2018 at 19:48
  • I have not tried this process on that version. Oct 22, 2018 at 15:07

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