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How to fix bad sectors in Windows 10

Hard drives are slowly being replaced by SSDs but the transition will take a few years before SSDs become mainstream and HDDs disappear completely. One of the reasons users prefer an SSD over an HDD, beside the price point, is because SSDs have a short lifespan compared to HDDs.

fix bad sectors in Windows 10

Bad sectors in hard drives

A common problem with hard drives is bad sectors. A bad sector is basically space on the drive that is defective. You cannot read or write data to it. There may already be data present in a bad sector but reading or recovering it may not be possible.

Bad sectors, while common on hard drives can also happen in SSDs. Sometime, they can be fixed while other times, there isn’t anything that can be done.

Scan for bad sectors

Before you can fix bad sectors, you must know where they are and how bad the problem is. To find bad sectors, you can run a simple scan.

There are two simple ways to scan for bad sectors.

File Explorer

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Go to This PC.
  3. Right-click a partition/drive and select Properties from the context menu.
  4. Go to the Tools tab and click Check.
  5. Allow the scan to complete.
  6. Repeat for all drives.

Command Prompt

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Run this command: chkdsk /F /R
  3. Allow the command to complete. It will return a list of bad sectors on the drive.

Fix bad sectors in Windows 10

Windows 10 cannot fix bad sectors. After you find the bad sectors on your hard drive, check how much of the drive has been lost to bad sectors. Depending on the damage, try one of the fixes listed below.

1. Replace hard drive or SSD

If your drive has a lot of bad sectors, there is little that can be done to fix them. You should back up the data that you can access and then look into replacing the drive.

You can clone your old, damaged drive to the new drive but we don’t recommend it for a drive that has bad sectors. Manually copy over data and install Windows 10 fresh if you have to.

2. Fix disk errors

If there are only a few, small and sparse bad sectors on a drive, it may be possible to recover data from them or even fix them. 

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Run this command: chkdsk C: /f
  3. Repeat this command for all drives on your system. the ‘C:’ part denotes the drive letter.

Data recovery tools

If you have one too many bad sectors, your data may be lost. If you do not have a back up of it, you can try using data recovery tools to get it back. Make sure you manage your expectations as a bad sector doesn’t always allow data to be recovered.

Conclusion

Hard drives have gotten faster and alternate, faster storage is available in the form of SSDs but they still have their limitations. Some times, drives may have these bad sectors out of the box. If your drive is new, you can probably have it replaced under warranty. Physical damage can also lead to bad sectors so be careful how you handle your hardware.

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