Understanding Bad Sectors and How to Recover Data From Them | Haak Blog

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Most people don’t know very much about ‘bad sectors’ outside of the fact that it can affect the data that is stored on their hard drive. That much is certainly true, but there is more to it than that.

The easiest way to understand bad sectors is to think of your hard drive as being divided into thousands of sectors. When one is ‘bad’ all that means is that it appears to be defective and isn’t responding to read or write requests. As such modern day operating systems often work around the sectors instead.

Understanding Bad Sectors and How to Recover Data From Them

 In truth there are two different types of bad sectors that are commonly known as ‘hard’ or ‘soft’. A ‘hard’ bad sector is caused by physical damage to the drive itself and can take place for a number of reasons including regular wear and tear. On the other hand a ‘soft’ bad sector is caused by software and could be caused by malware or even just if you suddenly powered off your computer while it was writing into that sector.

The reason why it is important to distinguish between these bad sectors is because ‘hard’ bad sectors are irreparable and nothing can be done about them. However ‘soft’ bad sectors can be fixed using Window’s Disk Check tool or the other variants of disk utilities available on OS X and Linux.

When the Disk Check tool repairs bad sectors, it can also recover data from them. Again, this is only applicable to ‘soft’ bad sectors. As far as ‘hard’ bad sectors go there are some types of data recovery software that can recover as much data as possible from them – but it is unlikely to recover all the data.

Keep in mind that it is normal that a hard drive develop a few bad sectors over time, however if your hard drive begins to develop a lot of bad sectors rapidly then that could be a sign that it is about to fail. If that is the case your best bet would be to look into replacing it as soon as possible, and in the short term you should backup your data so that it can be restored if the hard drive fails before it is replaced.


Hopefully all of that will give you an understanding of what bad sectors are and your options when you wish to recover data from them. All in all there’s no reason to panic if you find a single bad sector or two, but if it starts to pile up then quick action on your part could help to save your data and make it possible to recover it afterwards at very least.

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