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Solved! When Disk Drives go bad...

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,475
328
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The bad news is my 5TB game drive has filled up. The worse news is it's now having Steam updates to games regularly get "disk write errors".

I'm guessing I'm needing to go through the headache of buying one - or two - new drives, and transferring the data soon. In the meantime, I tried a chkdsk which found no errors, and suspect it wasn't very thorough. Is there a better chkdsk to run to find and lock out bad sectors?
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
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Is there a better chkdsk to run to find and lock out bad sectors?
Craig, no offense, but ... don't count on CHKDSK to save you from a failing disk. Using it may well destroy all of the data on the disk.

Edit: I would begin planning for a new drive ASAP. Possibly consider 2x in RAID-1 (mirroring).
 
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UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
13,285
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Both Seagate and Western Digital have free utilities to find out the drive's current health.

Otherwise, you can always use a 3rd party utility like CrystalDiskInfo.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,475
328
126
Thanks, but I have a pretty good idea of the health from the write errors - if they'd actually lock out bad sectors so I stop getting them, that'd help.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
13,285
3,951
146
Thanks, but I have a pretty good idea of the health from the write errors - if they'd actually lock out bad sectors so I stop getting them, that'd help.
It seemed like you were asking for help concerning the bad sectors/drive health. I never know what quite to expect. ;)

Chkdsk is chkdsk. If the drive is as bad you think it is, your option is to replace it. If it's developing bad sectors that quickly, there's nothing you really can do outside of that (unless you enjoy a freezing system/programs).
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
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Thanks, but I have a pretty good idea of the health from the write errors - if they'd actually lock out bad sectors so I stop getting them, that'd help.
How do you think bad sectors come about? Gremlins, that invoking CHKDSK, chases away?

Edit: PS. HDDs are highly-precise, highly-sensitive, and cost-conscious. They are mechanical devices.

PPS. Please don't ask what color to paint your car, to stop engine wear and the effect of mileage.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,475
328
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It seemed like you were asking for help concerning the bad sectors/drive health. I never know what quite to expect. ;)
It was more, how to lock out bad sectors, than determining whether I have any. I thought there might be a beter CHKDSK function for it, but Larry is warning away from it.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,475
328
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How do you think bad sectors come about? Gremlins, that invoking CHKDSK, chases away?

Edit: PS. HDDs are highly-precise, highly-sensitive, and cost-conscious. They are mechanical devices.

PPS. Please don't ask what color to paint your car, to stop engine wear and the effect of mileage.
I don't understand your question. They typically come about from the drive deteriorating; the question is what can be done about them, and software like chkdsk can test to identify sectors that aren't working reliably, and map them out of use as bad, so the OS stops trying to write to them and getting write errors. Your paint your car comment is insulting...
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
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Bad sectors on a HDD generally happen due to mechanical deterioration and physical damage.

No amount of software tweaking, will stop that physical deterioration, just like painting your car a certain color won't stop engine wear. (That was my point.)
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
13,285
3,951
146
If you have a HDD that has data on it that the want to save, CHKDSK is about the LAST thing that you would want to run on it, if you mean using the /F flag.
Yup+++

Here's a quick and dirty guide on additional chkdsk options, but read up about the pros/cons before using them, or otherwise as Larry said you could really regret using them.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/administration/windows-commands/chkdsk

Honestly, if you know your drive is dying, the only way to fix the problem is to replace it.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,475
328
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What I'd like is a utility that tests *unassigned* sectors and marks them bad, and leaves assigned ones alone.

Larry, I never said software can repair the disk, I said I wanted it to mark the bad sectors so they aren't used.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
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What I'd like is a utility that tests *unassigned* sectors and marks them bad, and leaves assigned ones alone.

Larry, I never said software can repair the disk, I said I wanted it to mark the bad sectors so they aren't used.
But I'm trying to tell you, it's not just that "some sectors" ARE just "bad", and can be worked around. I'm saying, it's likely that your drive has "cancer", and more and more sectors that were "good" will turn "bad". Randomly. Due to mechanical and physical issues with the drive.

Constantly marking sectors as bad might be a constant battle, and CHKDSK may eat all of your data on that drive eventually when that happens. Seen it happen.

BTW, when WRITING to a (SATA, IDE) disk, you should NEVER see "bad" sectors, as the drive itself, in the FIRMWARE, will TRANSPARENTLY RE-MAP AROUND BAD SECTORS. So if you're seeing actual "write failure - sector error" errors, then check SMART, you're probably already out of SPARE SECTORS in the REMAP TABLE, and that means that your drive has already S*** the bed.

Edit: I mean, sorry to tell you this, but most likely, you need a new drive or drive(s), like yesterday.

Edit: If you need a drive cheap, I'll sell you a (used, but working last time I checked) external desktop 3TB HDD for the cost of shipping. Let me know. Then you can at least off-load some of your stuff. (It's a Toshiba 3TB 7200RPM HDD, inside a WD EasyStore case that once held an 8TB WD Red HDD, that I shucked for my NAS unit, so I re-purposed the enclosure, with some of my older NAS drives.) I don't guarantee how long it will keep working, but it might give you some time to back up your stuff, until you can plan some more permanent replacement drives. (I recommend checking ebay and BestBuy.com, for "WD EasyStore 10TB" / "12TB" / "14TB" to see what the best sale deal is on "big" storage, and then get 2 (or 3, one for cold backups!), and run two in a RAID-1 mirror. After "shucking".)
 
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VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
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I mean, if you read the CHKDSK documentation, it can do a surface scan, and map out bad sectors. Yes, it can do that, but it may munge whatever user data stands in its way, and if your bad sector count is constantly increasing, you'll just make hash out of your current drive's data.
 

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
13,915
3,842
136
Another reason not to run chkdsk /r on a full, 5TB, known dodgy disk is that it will take freaking ages! And a full chkdsk is a stressful operation to run on a hard drive.

A healthy, virtually empty 1TB disk (let's say it has a Windows installation and that's about it) will normally take about 3 hours in my experience to have chkdsk /r run on it. If chkdsk encounters data, it will take longer to check, and if it encounters bad sectors and other failures, it will take longer still.

If you know a drive is dodgy then running chkdsk is almost completely pointless. I've had scenarios in the past that made it worthwhile, but generally speaking if the diagnosis has already been made then either the drive requires immediate replacement or the user is happy to continue using it until the drive causes more problems.

@VirtualLarry

VirtualLarry said:
So if you're seeing actual "write failure - sector error" errors, then check SMART, you're probably already out of SPARE SECTORS in the REMAP TABLE, and that means that your drive has already S*** the bed.
I was under the impression that either the drive spots a bad sector, logs it and remaps/attempts to remap it, or the OS does. I base this impression on the scenarios I've seen where SMART reckons the drive is completely fine (no iffy sectors of any kind), and Windows is citing bad blocks / read failures, etc.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
126
I was under the impression that either the drive spots a bad sector, logs it and remaps/attempts to remap it, or the OS does. I base this impression on the scenarios I've seen where SMART reckons the drive is completely fine (no iffy sectors of any kind), and Windows is citing bad blocks / read failures, etc.
That's a bit... odd.

Anyways, the way that it is SUPPOSED to work is, if a READ detects a sector error (bad ECC, and cannot recover the sector contents), then it is marked "Pending" for that sector in the SMART logs. Then, upon a WRITE to a PENDING sector, the disk re-writes the sector, and most likely, re-reads it. If it fails ECC validation, THEN it is REMAPPED, the data (still in the drive's cache RAM) is then written to ANOTHER sector, and the initial sector is MAPPED OUT of the valid sectors list (put on G-List, or Grown Defects List), and is then listed in SMART data as a "Remapped" sector, rather than "Pending".

If the sector gets written to, but passes ECC with the new contents, then it is REMOVED from the SMART "Pending" list, and returned to use.
 

pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
6,827
1,961
136
The bad news is my 5TB game drive has filled up. The worse news is it's now having Steam updates to games regularly get "disk write errors".

I'm guessing I'm needing to go through the headache of buying one - or two - new drives, and transferring the data soon. In the meantime, I tried a chkdsk which found no errors, and suspect it wasn't very thorough. Is there a better chkdsk to run to find and lock out bad sectors?
Gaming drive?
If its just the drive for your Steam library, why bother move anything at all?

Pick up a WD Blue 6tb, install it and let Steam restore all your data from the cloud (cringes having to type out "the cloud"...)
At most you might have to remove the Steam library path in steam settings and then after install just add the path back..
if you have custom config files for individual games, just grab those individual files if you can.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,475
328
126
Gaming drive?
If its just the drive for your Steam library, why bother move anything at all?

Pick up a WD Blue 6tb, install it and let Steam restore all your data from the cloud (cringes having to type out "the cloud"...)
At most you might have to remove the Steam library path in steam settings and then after install just add the path back..
if you have custom config files for individual games, just grab those individual files if you can.
It's not just Steam. It's a game drive, including gog, epic, ubisoft, EA, standalone, and various data files (such as thousands of world of tanks replay files), and more (like screenshots, etc.). That's why what I'd like is, get new drive, copy old drive onto new, and use drive as if it were the old drive, all the software working with it, not reinstalling things.

My impression is blue is a sort of 'compromise' drive on quality/performance, that black is better? I'm not sure where the enterprise? gold series fits in.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,162
914
126
I'm not sure where the enterprise? gold series fits in.
...

This is not gamer quality enterprise, this isn't even HEDT lets pretend to be enterprise,
this is enterprise enterprise, as in mission critical environments, data center, large web host servers.

You are throwing in Starter to Modders/DIY then to a pool of Professionals.

The high cap Gold's are Helium filled for less power draw on standbye and idle.
The over a higher warranty, and have much higher MTBF.
They are made differently and with higher quality.
Its like looking at a SCION, and then comparing it with a LEXUS if you need a car analogy.
Also the price tag is comparable as well.

And of course there is nothing wrong with using an enterprise drive for gaming.
Infact i do that a lot on my cousin's systems who can afford that 4TB nVME.
 
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VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
126
@aigomorla ,. you ever put your Steam drive on a NAS server? How well does that work out? Wondering if that might be a solution for @Craig234 ?

Meaning, instead of a local-gaming-PC RAID array. Since I assume that he wants some sort of redundancy in his replacement, so that this never happens again.

Edit: If he updates his entire system, there's always these:

I'm using two 1TB Intel 660p NVMe (QLC) SSDs in RAID-0 on an Asus B450-F ROG STRIX Gaming ATX board (both run at PCI-E 3.0 x4 in this particular board, which is unusual for a B450 board). 2TB (raw) total capacity.

I did it to get capacity on the cheap, and I backup every day, but now I'm thinking, maybe I shouldn't have done it that way, as I'm backing up my Steam games to my NAS's backup store, every few weeks when it does a full backup.

Maybe I should have used one for OS / programs / data, and back that one up every day, and then the other one for Steam games, and rarely change that one, and never back that one up to my NAS. (*Could have used a 4TB HDD that I have instead for that, too.)

The idea being, that possibly my backups might be much smaller. I'm using almost 512GB total out of 2TB, and I'm willing to believe that most of that is Steam games. Which, since I can just re-download from the Cloud over my Gigabit FIOS, I shouldn't need to waste backup space on my ever-filling NAS unit. (Looking at bigger configurations even now, just to hold backups.)
 
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aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,162
914
126
you ever put your Steam drive on a NAS server?
Too slow + congestion of network. Unless your talking about on a 10gbE configured with SAN.
Then my main gaming rig is too far from my 10Gbe, also does not really require 10GBe, as my main is just for gaming, and i use my server remotely which is tied to the NAS @ 10Gbe.

Max a 1GBe can transfer ~ 125mb/s hypothetical... in actuality its probably less and max's out your 1gbe.

Max Sata 6G can do is probably closer to HDD speed @ around ~220mb/s approx, and does not cap out your network.
Also latency is probably much better direct SATA then over Ethernet.

Ideally he would want to drop in a combo of nVME and spinners, especially epic hinting that unreal5 would benefit from a nVME.
But you know me and my never ending quest for nVME's and they only got more expensive, and i refuse to use QLC over TLC.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,787
5,302
126
Ideally he would want to drop in a combo of nVME and spinners, especially epic hinting that unreal5 would benefit from a nVME.
But you know me and my never ending quest for nVME's and they only got more expensive, and i refuse to use QLC over TLC.
Even for game storage, which isn't re-written frequently (WORM application)? Not sure what the benefit of TLC over QLC would be, for gaming.

(I'm using two QLC drives in RAID--0, for everything on this system, so far so good. Though I do get "hard freezes" every couple of weeks, that I have to hit my RESET button on my chassis. Then it boots up fine again. NOT saying that's because of the storage, but maybe my SSDs are overheating and throttling down to nothing, under my GPUs.)
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,162
914
126
I Just have a bias with QLC.
I know its the future because its the only way we can get affordable massive size drives.
But still, i think i have more enterprise blood then Consumer blood, and QLC is a definite nono on enterprise.

I am a fan of 3dxpoint, to the point i love it to death, but sad thing is i can't afford it in the quantities i want.
Its like the supercar most people dream of, but aren't even allowed to take a sniff at.

I will compromise with TLC, and i still have a few 2TB MLC SSD's even which i do not intend to retire out anytime soon.
 

thecoolnessrune

Diamond Member
Jun 8, 2005
9,439
375
126
I thought that Toshiba was promoting massively-sized QLC SSDs for "WORM" applications? (In "Enterprise", I mean.) Where write-cycles wouldn't likely be much of an issue?
Yeah, several are. Intel and Micron are both heavily pushing QLC SSDs in the Enterprise SATA Market, and Pure, one of the original pushers of direct-to-flash NVMe only, flash-only storage, therefore has a vested interest in getting the price of flash down against HDD Arrays. They did that by introducing the "QLC Optimized" FlashArray //C as a Tier 2 option from their FlashArray //X system. I imagine 2020 is the year we start seeing QLC propagate in the Enterprise Storage Market.
 

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