What Are Bad Sectors On A Hard Drive And Ways To Fix It

In this modern world, data loss, hard drive damage, and hard drive data recovery are some keywords you will not fail to use or come across. Hard drive sectors are small sections of the media that hold tiny chunks of information. A significant contributor to hard disk failure today is bad sectors. A bad sector is a tiny cluster of storage space on a hard drive that appears defective. 

Bad sectors on hard drives do not respond to both read and write requests and can occur either in the traditional magnetic hard drives or modern solid-state drives. They are generally caused by wear and tear, direct physical damage, manufacturer defects, or software errors. The two main types are – bad sectors arising from software errors that you can fix and those that arise from physical damage and cannot be repaired. 

Physical Or Hard Bad Sectors 

As we mentioned, physical bad sectors are caused by physical damage to the storage clusters on hard drives. They affect storage clusters by turning them into fixed magnetic states that inhibit any form of reading or writing of data. Further, bad sectors in such a corrupted hard drive cannot be accessed with any disk controller or even the OS. Besides, they can only be prevented but cannot be repaired!

Logical Or Soft Bad Sectors

Soft bad sectors are those that generally appear not to function correctly. Like hard bad sectors, they are also inaccessible by both OS and Disk Controller. However, they occur differently as they result when the sector found Error Correction Code does not go in sync with the sector content. You can repair them by overwriting zeros on everything on the Disk, as only hard drive formatting wears out.  

Causes Of Bad Sectors

Continuous usage of a hard drive causes them to get rough and even lose their magnetic nature, which primarily results in disk failures. Other than that, below are some real factors that may cause either physical or soft bad sectors on your Disk. 

  • Over-aging – Every electrical device faces this problem after a particular period. This is because they fail and eventually degrade after a stipulated time. 
  • File System Error – This is another major cause of bad sectors in a hard drive. It makes a sector permanently damaged and inaccessible.
  • Overheating – Overheating is a standard issue in all electrical appliances. Any hard drive, whether new or old, is liable to fail when exposed to overheating. 

How Do I Know My Hard Drive Has Bad Sectors?

If you use a computer often, you should be able to tell when your hard drive has started developing bad sectors. Some of the telltale signs of bad sectors in a Disk include: 

  • Freezing 
  • Hanging 
  • Undesirable shutdown 
  • Corrupt or inaccessible files and folders 
  • Cryptic error messages 
  • The system takes too much time rebooting, shutting down, or loading 

How To Fix Bad Sectors 

In this section, we will show you some of the ways to fix bad sectors in hard drives. Pick the right method for fixing bad sectors on hard drive based on the symptoms you get from your hard drive, among other determinants. 


Backing up your data is the surest approach that protects the integrity of your data even with the damage of a hard drive setting in bad sectors. Therefore, if one copy of your data fails due to bad sector errors, you can run another copy from your backup. 

Error Checking 

In this approach, the drive files are deeply scanned and searched to identify files that have been damaged or corrupt, among other inconsistencies within data sets. Error checking is advantageous as it helps clean up basic file problems that contribute to data issues. Also, if you carry out error checking but the problem keeps recurring, it should show you that there are numerous bad sectors already, and the drive may be dying. 

Surface Scan 

Surface scan focuses on deeply examining Disk surfaces for existing bad sectors and marking them, if any. It helps by marking bad sectors off-limits to the file system and adding more sectors to replace the bad ones. It’s, however, a very lengthy process but most effective as it is one of the most non-destructive methods for mapping out bad sectors. 

SMART Diagnostics Test

This is a Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology that queries the internal SMART information of a hard drive for its current status. It, therefore, indicates the physical well-being of a hard drive in the present scenario. 

Built-in Disk Utilities 

Built-in disk utilities are system-made utilities that you can use to scan and determine bad sectors. The method is very effective for scanning hard drives and will help you map out bad sectors, mark hard bad sectors as “bad sectors,” and repair soft bad sectors. 

Third-party Software Approach 

Where you are on the verge of losing data due to bad sectors in a hard drive, third-party software is one of the most effective ways to recover deleted files from a hard drive. These are DIY software solutions that you can easily download and install into your computer system and utilize to repair or retrieve data from bad sectors. 

Third-party software also helps you recover data from physical damage or accidental losses caused by actions such as accidental deletion. Besides, you can use them on any device other than a computer, such as an external hard drive, and they will recover all forms of data from Word, audio, video, to photos. 

One such third-party software that is well-known is Disk Drill. It has versatile features such as a quick scan that enables you to recover your data in record time and data review for reviewing recoverable data before actual recovery. The software also works in easy steps and is 100% safe. 

How To Prevent Bad Sectors

To have peace of mind or reduce the hustle to recover corrupted hard drive with bad sectors, here are some ways to prevent bad sectors from attacking your hard drive. 

  • Keep your system dust-free
  • Keep the system cool all the time and avoid overheating
  • Keep data cables short 
  • Shut down your system properly 
  • Use uninterrupted Power supply mode 
  • Use branded hardware 
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Nathaniel Villa