Will low-level formatting fix bad sectors on a hard drive?

Jackson Chung July 8, 2012
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I’ve got a hard drive that has reached a critical level of bad sectors and I removed it before the drive actually failed. Can low-level formatting save the drive to be used again?

  1. Vincent
    November 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Well, i don't know how effective this method is, but it certainly worked for me. I had a single bad sector on one of my IDE harddrives, and before throwing it away, i decided to try low-level formatting, and surprisingly, i didn't found any bad-sectors on it after that. So it worked for me, and I'd certainly recommend others to give it a try. You have nothing to lose anyway.

  2. john
    September 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    low-level formatting can fix logical bad sector but not physical bad sector.Try PBD(Partition Bad Disk) to isolate bad sectors and fix the bad sector problem.

  3. jones198315
    July 13, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Don't worry you can also recover formatted data from hard drive with bad sectors by using a data recovery tool called Best Data Recovery. Previously I was able to recover hard drive with bad sector even after formatting it by using this tool.
    For more details you can visit the official website: http://www.recovermyharddrive.org/bad-sectors.html
    Even you can download demo tool from this link: http://www.recovermyharddrive.org/download/recovermyharddrive-windows.exe

  4. ha14
    July 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Using HDD Low Level Format Tool

    you can try CHKDSK utility may help to detect and mark for bad sectors. During a surface scan, it attempts to write data to that sector and then read back what it wrote. If the two do not match, the sector is marked as bad as it does not maintain data integrity.

    By attempting to read & write every sector on the disk then the disk can find bad sectors in areas that have not been used yet. A disk can only know if a bit is usuable if a read/write attempt is made. Also once the disk runs out of spare bits thats when you will start to see your drive space shrinking since the available capacity of the drive is lower due to unusuable parts of the drive. When the Read Write heads fail to read and interpret the magnetic signals normally, bad sectors errors could occur.

    full format should be able to "mask" the bad sectors or mark the bad sectors in file allocation table. You could continue to use the disk while the operating system will take notice of the location of bad sectors and avoid them.

    Some special software can regenerate the hard drive, of course the result varies from hard drive to another hard drive. The scan and repair can take hours or days depending the size of the hard drive and problems.
    Spin Rite

    HDD Regenrator

    • Jackson Chung
      July 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks, ha14!

  5. ferdinan Sitohang
    July 9, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Simple Answer: NO. Formatting the hard drive is different with fixing the drive.
    here is the illustration, you have a a table, you use it very often, until the first leg of the table is broken, and the second, and finally, half of the table is broken, but somehow it has so many things on the table like coking oil, food, beer, are spread across the table, then you want to use it, even a half of the table, you clean it as clean as you can, it calls formatting, to clean the area that you want to use.

    For the table that has been broken, i think you just buy a new one. As a technical reason is fixing a drive that you have is you must go to the vendor and ask them to repair it. Thank you

    • Jackson Chung
      July 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Sorry, that just doesn't make any sense.

    • Krypton
      July 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      That has got to be about the worst "explanation" I have ever seen, on any forum, in my life.

      You really need to take up a different hobby!

    • Himfu
      July 30, 2012 at 6:21 am

      thanks for the explanation...really got it...very abstract though...

  6. Mike
    July 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    In general a drive with bad sectors or entire blocks gone bad can perfectly be used. All hard drives contain spare sectors which will be used instead (sector reallocation). Once all spare sectors have been used the drive is still usable - you will simply see it's total amount of space decrease.

    Having that said you probably shouldn't use such drives for important data since it is likely that other sectors will go bad and occasionally the data they contain can't be read and reallocated causing files to be corrupt

    Since there is no real low-level formatting for hard disks anymore todays means of LLF won't be able to fix bad sectors.

    Basically LLF refers to putting the hard drive into a (almost) manufacturing state by writing zeros too all blocks. Since bad sectors are reallocated and no longer accessible they won't be overwritten or modified.

    The only exception to this would be an ATA secure erase which runs on firmware level. It is capable to erase/overwrite even those bad sectors. However those sectors still won't be usable because the hard drive controllers keeps track of them in a table (P-list ... post-manufacture, G-list ... growth during usage).

    • Jackson Chung
      July 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Thanks, Mike!

  7. PerryKahai
    July 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Short answer: No.

    Long answer: You said you "removed it before the drive actually failed." What did you observe when you say the drive failed? If your observation is right, a hard drive on the last leg of its life cannot be resuscitated, bad sectors or not. However, just having bad sectors does not indicate drive failure.

    So, the question is: should you reuse a drive that continues to have sectors go bad? Not for a "production" system. I may take a chance and put it in a NAS server or use it as a backup drive but I would certainly not use it as my main drive and put information on there that I know will most likely get corrupted because of bad sectors.

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