What should I do about my fragmented/buggy drive?
October 23, 2005 12:32 PM   Subscribe

I have a badly fragmented drive that, even after repeated defrag runs with Diskeeper, remains heavily fragmented. I think as a consequence some of my directories have become inaccessible because when I try to access them i get an "I/O device error." Does this mean I have bad sectors (and if so, what do I do)? Is the data in those directories lost for good? Should I try and copy what I can and dump the drive?

Additional: I can't even delete the directories, let alone access the data!
Also, I'm running XP SP 2, if that's relevant. Sorry for the multiple questions in one, but it seemed acceptable.
posted by JohannStrauss to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Sounds like the drive is on it's way out if your getting I/O errors, or at least the file system is corrupted somewhat.

I suggest possibly investing in a drive recovery tool and definitely dumping all the data you can to a new drive asap.
posted by alexst at 12:53 PM on October 23, 2005

I'm not affilitated with them aside from being a pleased user but O&O Defrag is definitely worth the money.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 1:12 PM on October 23, 2005

i've never heard of fragmention stopping you writing to disk. i think you mixing up frgamentation (which slows disk access a bit but isn't very harmful really) and your disk dying (which means you lose everything).

if i were you i'd save what you can as soon as possible and throw it away. i would not try to defragment it, since that is likely to just make it die more quickly.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:28 PM on October 23, 2005

sorry, should have been: ...never heard of fragmentation stopping you reading from a disk
posted by andrew cooke at 1:28 PM on October 23, 2005

Right-o. The disk sounds like it is quickly dying. Get your data off of there ASAP.
posted by unixrat at 1:31 PM on October 23, 2005

It does sound like you've got bad sectors, and I don't know that Diskeeper is very good at saying so (I use it at work on 50ish user machines and it's never said it found something rotten) if you do. The amount of free space you have will affect how well you can defragment because the defragger needs temp space to work in, which could be a cause of your chronic fragmentation, and bad sectors would also take up space the defragger can't use to work in, but bottom line is that it sounds like you've got an impending failure and you should probably work on saving what you can rather than cleaning up the disk. Get your files onto another healthy disk pronto and then defrag that.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:35 PM on October 23, 2005

Fragmentation does not follow the file around for the duration of it's existence. If you move it to another drive, (unless your doing a raw drive dump, which is easier said than done under windows) when you copy the file it will read the file, and write it to the new disk in a mostly contigent manner.

Fragmentation is a filesystem problem so as long as you don't copy the filesystem (as in doing a raw copy of the drive) you won't end up with a fragmented copy.
posted by alexst at 1:41 PM on October 23, 2005

I had similar problems last week. The drive was usable and I could access things, but it was extremely slow and I got S.M.A.R.T errors when the PC booted up.

The day before I got those errors I happened to install a second HDD, so I installed Norton Ghost 2003 and managed to mirror the old drive to the new one. It worked fine (apart from taking 10hrs!).

While your drive is still usable I would suggest having a go at doing this, but it will take a while.
posted by lemonfridge at 2:37 PM on October 23, 2005

Thanks for all the advice. Sounds like I need a new drive, pronto. Message received =]
posted by JohannStrauss at 3:58 PM on October 23, 2005

a raw drive dump, which is easier said than done under windows

Actually it is very easy.

1) Download and install 14-day trial version of Acronis TrueI mage.
2) Click "Clone Disk" and tell it the source and destination.
3) Reboot and wait while it clones.
4) Make the new disk the master and take the old one out.
5) Reboot and wait while True Image tweaks the new disk to be the C drive then continues into Windows.


Did it myself for a friend a couple weeks ago. Actually I tried to do it on my work machine first, but my source drive was too far gone for it to be successful.
posted by kindall at 4:17 PM on October 23, 2005

If you can, I would avoid using it until you are ready to do the clone. You dont want to go makin the problem worse to a point where the clone will fail.
posted by lemonfridge at 2:14 AM on October 24, 2005

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