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Low Level Hard Drive formatter

X-Istence

*
Political User
#1
I am going through a stack of hard drives to see if any of them are still good (already found two that have read errors according to SeaTools). What I would like to do is have a program that can write to the hard drive, and then read back from the same block to then tell me if there are any writes failing or not.

I remember such a utility existing, but I am not able to find it, and I don't remember the name of it.
 
#3
This has nothing to do with low level formatting. That is done at the factory and affects how the drive hardware works. You just want software that will do a read write verify and update the bad sector lists on the drive. A full format should do just that.

This may or may not yield a "good" HD. A single pass or even multiple passes may miss "flaky sectors" that will loose data over timer. I've seen drives like that in the early days. The test method you're doing will just turn up hard failures (gouges, etc).

You really need to do a hard drive burn in using read write verify which could take days for a larger drive.

Have you looked at the Sandra burn in tool? Not sure how it's disk drive burn in works and did not want to risk any of my installed drives.

I did not see any appropriate tools doing a search. I'll look around some more for any appropriate freeware
 
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X-Istence

*
Political User
#4
Low level for me is anything that goes over each and every single part of the disk one by one. Whereas standard format utilities and whatnot just write a few items to the disk and call it done.

As for updating the bad sector list? I don't care. First failure and it is out. These are old drives that I am digging out of boxes. The first thing I did was a read test using SeaTools. Simple, and pretty fast. After the read test I booted up and used smartmontools to check the SMART status. If there were any read errors before, the drive is put in the discarded stack.

I now have a few drives left that show no errors in the SMART status (usually a good sign).

After it has passed those tests I would like to run one last final test, the read/write test as you call it. It used to be called a low level format in the likes of PC Magazine, but whatever.

If no such tool exists, then I will have to quickly write one which works by just opening the raw device on FreeBSD and writing 10 MB of data, and then reading that same 10 MB of data and comparing the two. Would be slow, but it would work, and it would show me errors if they did occur since FreeBSD would hang on the write.
 
#8
Free Wise, Eraser http://www.heidi.ie/eraser/

Windows app that lets you can create a "Nuke Boot Floppy" that should do the type of format you are looking for. I have never used it for this but I dont see why it wouldnt work.

**However, I think it erases every drive it detects**
 

X-Istence

*
Political User
#10
Found a tool that does this, it is called HDAT2. It was sitting on the Ultimate Boot CD which I grabbed last night as well when I wanted SeaTools and other random tools (My WD CD for some reason would not boot).

It is under Hard Disk Diagnostic Tools. They have a test if you look around in the menus when it is started up named "extensive test" or something along those lines.

The test is a read write read compare test. Which is exactly what I was looking for. AND it is free :D.

The tool can do so much more as well. I never knew there was a way to hide extra space on a hard drive in such a way that tools that are looking at the hard drive think it is smaller than what it really is (when manufacturers send replacement drives they will sometimes use this method to make a 80 GB hard drive look like a 40 GB hard drive). I had a 60 GB hard drive I dug out of a box, I went to erase it using HDDErase (uses the native command in the ATA spec to have the hard drive erase itself. Which is good enough for NIST), and it told me that the DCO did not match what the manufacturers real size of the drive was. Instead of now having a 57 GB HD I have a 61.49 GB hard drive. Apparently the drive contained a hidden section.

60 * 1000000000 bytes in GB = 55.8793545 gigabytes

Drive now shows up under HDAT2 as 61.49 GB, and does under Linux as well.
 
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Sazar

F@H - Is it in you?
Staff member
Political User
#13
X, let me know what you think of these items. I will probably have to give it a twirl if/when the new penryn quad's drop.

:D

Danke !!!
 
#14
I stopped waiting and grabbed a q6600 with a 3.0ghx guaranteed clock rate. Works a charm and made a substantial difference to a few things I do (such as gaming and watching blu-ray rips)
 

X-Istence

*
Political User
#15
X, let me know what you think of these items. I will probably have to give it a twirl if/when the new penryn quad's drop.

:D

Danke !!!
HDAT2 is still running on the 61 GB drive, and so far it is not have any errors what so ever which is awesome.

All I can say, is have patience while running these programs. They take time, and they are not limited by the speed of your CPU, rather the speed of the hard drives, so you could technically run it on an old Pentium 4 you have sitting around and use your brand spanking new quad core :p
 

Steevo

Spammer representing.
Political User
#16
Most of the "hidden partition" is for the drive to use during its own cleanup of bad sectors, the drive just physically remaps the sector in its firmware to the spare sectors left for that purpose, plus most hard drives made since SMART became standard do a idle time check on themselves. When you really need to worry is when Windows is starting to report bad sectors and you get corruption in files.


Really that is hurting more than helping if you are removing the pool of unallocated spare clusters for the drive to remap. Check the drives, but let them be if the SMART status is good, and if not and you choose to use them don't keep anything critical on the drives.
 

X-Istence

*
Political User
#18
Most of the "hidden partition" is for the drive to use during its own cleanup of bad sectors, the drive just physically remaps the sector in its firmware to the spare sectors left for that purpose, plus most hard drives made since SMART became standard do a idle time check on themselves. When you really need to worry is when Windows is starting to report bad sectors and you get corruption in files.


Really that is hurting more than helping if you are removing the pool of unallocated spare clusters for the drive to remap. Check the drives, but let them be if the SMART status is good, and if not and you choose to use them don't keep anything critical on the drives.

The hidden partitions in this case (after talking to a forensics teacher at my school about it) are there since they make the platters a bit bigger than what they need to hold. Then to make all the drives have the same max LBA (sectors) so that they can be used in RAID array's they change it to whatever the drive needs to be. This is how they can guarantee that every drive that comes out of the factory has the exact same size. The re-allocated sectors are on a different part of the disk OUTSIDE of that area, and as soon as an sector is marked as bad, it won't get touched again, so any of the clean wipes will also remove these so called moved sectors.
 

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