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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if SpinRite 6.0 will work for me?
What drives does SpinRite run on?  What does it need?
SpinRite can run on any PC compatible system with a 32 or 64-bit Intel or AMD processor and a color screen. The previous SpinRite v5.0 is available to v6.0 owners who need to run SpinRite on older 16-bit 8086/80286 systems and/or monochrome screens.
SpinRite is self-contained, including its own bootable FreeDOS operating system. It can be used on any operating system and any file system. This means it can run on drives formatted with Windows XP's/Vista's/Windows 7's NTFS and all other older FAT formats (in addition to all Linux, Novell, and all other file systems.) It can be used to pre-qualify and certify unformatted hard drives before their first use. Drives on non-PC platforms, such as Apple Macintosh or TiVo, may be temporarily relocated to a PC motherboard for data recovery, maintenance and repair by SpinRite.
SpinRite provides complete interaction with IDE-interface PATA (parallel ATA) and SATA (Serial ATA) drives, and it can also be used with any other type of drive — SCSI, USB, 1394/Firewire — that can be made visible to DOS through the addition of controller BIOS or add-on DOS drivers. To obtain the best performance, IDE drives can be temporarily removed from their external USB or Firewire cases and attached directly to the PC motherboard.
Note: See the SATA knowledgebase article for specific information about SpinRite v6.0's operation with SATA drives and controllers

I purchased and downloaded the SpinRite program file.  Now what?

SpinRite is a single program file that offers completely different services when it is run under Windows or DOS. It should first be run under Windows to choose and create some form of bootable media. You can choose to create a self-booting floppy diskette, a bootable CD-R ISO image file, or to prepare a USB flash drive or other bootable device for booting.

Then, when the media prepared by the Windows-side of SpinRite is booted, the FreeDOS operating system included within SpinRite will boot, and it will, in turn, start SpinRite to begin performing data recovery, maintenance, and repair.

So . . . after you download the SpinRite.exe program, run it under Windows to have it create a bootable media format of your choice. Then shutdown and restart the target system, booting it with the SpinRite bootable media to start the FreeDOS operating system which will automatically run SpinRite under FreeDOS.

I lost my copy of SpinRite.  How can I get another?

Your purchase receipt — which you should try not to lose — contains your purchase transaction code. You may visit the customer service page of our web site at any time to enter your purchase transaction number. This will re-display a copy of your original online receipt containing a fresh software download link you may use to retrieve the latest version of our software. You may do this whenever you need to.

If you have also lost your original purchase receipt you may write to us at to have us look up your previous purchase and provide your transaction code. With your request, please provide the eMail address you used at the time of your purchase so that we may locate your previous purchase record.

I have a slow Internet connection. How large is SpinRite?

SpinRite is a single 170 Kbyte downloadable file, so it can be easily and quickly obtained through even the slowest Internet connections.

How fast is SpinRite?

At its maximum depth of operation, performing a complete read/write/read/write for data recovery and surface analysis/verification, SpinRite can obtain extremely high speeds of up to 2 gigabytes per minute, or 120 gigabytes per hour. However, that is SpinRite's maximum speed and many things can cause it to run slower and, in some cases, much slower . . .

If SpinRite hits areas of the drive that require attention, it will pause to take as much time as required to recover data, verify the region, and cause the drive to replace any damage with new spare sectors. If the system's or drive controller BIOS does not support UDMA (ultra direct memory access), all data transfers will probably be slower, if the drive does not support read and/or write caching and/or read-ahead, SpinRite's operation will be slower. And if the drive is non-IDE or running over a USB or Firewire link, SpinRite will likely run slower.

So 2 gigabytes per minute is a best-case speed with a modern drive, high-performance 80-pin cabling, and motherboard or controller supporting Ultra DMA transfers.

Can SpinRite low-level format my IDE, EIDE, or SCSI drive?

No software of any sort can truly low-level format today's modern drives. The ability to low-level format hard drives was lost back in the early 1990's when disc surfaces began incorporating factory written "embedded servo data". If you have a very old drive that can truly be low-level reformatted, SpinRite v5.0 will do that for you (which all v6.0 owners are welcome to download and run anytime). But this is only possible on very old non-servo based MFM and RLL drives with capacities up to a few hundred megabytes.

Does SpinRite support hard drive SMART capability?
Yes. SpinRite supports SMART more completely and usefully than anything else ever has. Upon first use, SpinRite activates and enables a drive's disabled SMART subsystem. When SpinRite is not actively running on the drive, the "static" state of the drive's SMART data is displayed. When SpinRite is running on a drive, the drive's SMART data — both the standard SMART parameters and the more detailed SMART event counters — are continuously polled, monitored, and displayed. Much more useful information about the true health and robustness of a drive can be gained by monitoring the SMART system's feedback while the drive is under an actual workload. No other software has ever done this.
Note: Some default SATA configurations can limit SpinRite's ability to obtain SMART information from SATA drives even though all other data recovery operations will work without limitation. See the SATA knowledgebase article for specific information about SpinRite v6.0's operation with SATA drives and controllers

Why is there no trial demonstration for SpinRite?

We have never created nor offered a demo version of SpinRite because people would just download and use the demo whenever they needed SpinRite's help. Unlike "productivity" software such as a word processor or appointment manager which are used all the time, SpinRite is typically needed only from time to time. But when it's needed it's really needed and it's really useful! So if a demo of SpinRite were available, people would just use the demo whenever they were in trouble. Non-paid use would not represent a fair exchange of value, and it would prevent us from continuing to move SpinRite forward and supporting this web site's many other valuable but free software and services.

We stand behind SpinRite one hundred percent, and we offer a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. If for ANY REASON you are unhappy with your ownership of SpinRite, we will immediately refund your purchase price. No questions asked. Given the special nature of the product, we feel that this represents the best all around solution for everyone. You can experience the full benefit of the product for yourself without any limitations on its use and function, while also being completely free to request a refund of your money if the product fails to meet your own expectations or hopes.

How often should SpinRite be run for preventive maintenance?

This is mostly a matter of personal taste. For example, how often should you backup your data? However, a general rule of thumb would be that SpinRite should be run every two or three months. Running it more often provides greater safety at the expense of the time consumed. Running it less often provides more opportunity for new problems to go undetected until they become severe. Once every few months should be often enough to catch and detect any early trouble.

How does SpinRite compare to ScanDisk?

SpinRite and ScanDisk are entirely different types of products. ScanDisk replaces the original DOS CHKDSK command, which verified the logical file system structure of the hard drive (the newer CHKDSK command no longer performs that function). Microsoft created ScanDisk because people were switching off their computers without first exiting Windows. This resulted in corruption of the file system.

ScanDisk can also perform a read-only "scan" of a drive's surface to check for any unreadable sectors which it will then remove from use by the file system. However, ScanDisk does not perform data recovery, maintenance, or surface analysis of any kind. Unlike SpinRite, it does no data pattern testing, defect scrubbing, data relocation or unreadable sector repair and recovery. ScanDisk was never designed to perform those functions.

If your hard drives are acting up, the best thing to do is to run SpinRite first (a quick scan at level 2 is fine) to check for and repair any obvious read-trouble on the drive. Then, knowing that the "lower-levels" of the drive are okay, run ScanDisk to check and verify the "higher-levels" of the drive's file system. SpinRite is the best and only tool for long-term low-level data integrity maintenance, and ScanDisk is a useful free tool for checking the operating system's file system at a higher level.

Will SpinRite also defragment my drives?

Nope. SpinRite is not a drive defragmenter. SpinRite operates with the drive's built-in intelligence to reassign and relocate defective sectors without creating file system fragments. Thus, running SpinRite does not create fragments, but neither does it eliminate any that may exist before it was run. You may use any common defragmenter (such as those built into Windows) either before or after using SpinRite.

Is SpinRite compatible with USB and Firewire devices?

The best answer to this is a firm "maybe". DOS device drivers are available for most USB and Firewire controllers. If such drivers are added to a DOS boot diskette so that your USB or Firewire drive is "seen" by DOS, SpinRite will also be able to "see" and operate with it. However, the performance of the drive through the DOS drivers and the serial (USB/Firewire) cable will likely be far lower than if the external drive were connected directly to a PC's motherboard controller. If you have the ability to temporarily relocate the IDE drive inside of the external enclosure to a PC— plugging it directly into the motherboard's controller — SpinRite will be able to operate at the drive's highest possible performance.

What if the power fails while SpinRite is running?

SpinRite was deliberately designed to absolutely minimize the "window of opportunity" for trouble if the system's power should fail while SpinRite is running. We, and many editorial product reviewers, have literally "pulled the plug" on SpinRite with no ill effects.

However, reliable use of a personal computer does depend upon a supply of reliable power. If system power fails at the instant of a drive writing to its disks, the single sector being written will, of course, be mis-written. No software can prevent mis-writing in this situation. But SpinRite is the most capable utility software ever created for recovering, afterward, from exactly that sort of trouble. Run SpinRite after the power is restored and it will make sure any power failure damage is repaired.

I thought newer drives didn't need SpinRite?

Not at all. We sell many copies of SpinRite every single day to the many people who are having serious trouble with their modern drives. SpinRite is every bit as necessary today as it ever was — maybe even more so since people store so much valuable personal "media" data on today's massive drives.

The problem is economics: Drive manufacturers only make hard drives that are "reliable enough" to work "most of the time". It's just like with Microsoft and Windows. Windows is good enough that we put up with the annoyances when it breaks. SpinRite is here to be your tool to pull today's modern drives back from the brink when they are beginning to misbehave.

How possible is it to recover data from a crashed hard drive?

That depends entirely upon "how crashed" the drive is. But SpinRite is often credited with performing "true miracles" of data recovery. Please read some of the true-life SpinRite testimonials we have received to get a sense for what SpinRite has done and can probably do for you if you ever need it. It is obviously possible for a drive to be so totally dead that it is only useful as a door stop. But today's modern drives struggle to stay alive and to die slowly. So if they are given some periodic SpinRite maintenance you should have plenty of warning of impending failure and also the ability to keep the drive alive until it can be replaced.

How do I make a bootable USB thumb drive??

Past users have had mixed success with USB drive booting. Older flash drives seem to be resistant, and older BIOSes may not support booting from USB devices. But in both cases, virtually all newer drives and systems do and will.

If your system can boot a USB device, and your USB device is bootable, we can offer some tips, tricks, and pointers:

Hewlett Packard (HP) makes an easy-to-use utility called “HP USB Disk Format Tool”, which includes a "Create a DOS Startup Disk" option. It's freely available from: http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=197 along with the Windows 98/DOS boot files.

Run the HP tool, pointing it at the directory where you unzipped the DOS boot files, and it will automatically build a bootable DOS USB drive using those files. Next, copy your original SPINRITE.EXE file onto the root directory of your USB drive. Once done, reboot the system with your BIOS configured to boot from USB drives. At the DOS prompt, type spinrite to start SpinRite.

Note that this also has the advantage of using real Microsoft MS-DOS files rather than the “FreeDOS” files which accompany SpinRite. The real, original MS-DOS may operate more consistently on less compatible systems.

SpinRite has been working on one sector for a VERY long time ... is this normal??

It's not abnormal, but it is definitely possible. SpinRite's “DynaStat” system attempts to take up to 2,000 individual samples of an unreadable sector in order to obtain detailed statistical data about the sector. If a drive is extra slow to reset itself after a failed read — as some drives are — then SpinRite can remain in place for quite a while before continuing to move forward. But if SpinRite does appears to be permanently “hung up” on one location, the following things have worked for past SpinRite users:
  1. Verify that the hardware (motherboard, drive controllers, etc.) in your system are using the latest BIOS and/or firmware versions. It really can make a difference, and it's generally best to keep system firmware current since subtle bugs are often found and corrected.
  2. Restart SpinRite just beyond the percentage point where it appears to be getting stuck. To do this: After you have selected the drives/partitions to run SpinRite against, you will be taken to the “Before Beginning” screen. On this screen, in the third section you will see: “You may hold SHIFT while pressing Enter to specify the starting and stopping operation points for each item.” This allows interrupted operations to be resumed where they left off. So, if you follow those instructions, you will be able to instruct SpinRite to start just past the location where SpinRite was having trouble.
  3. In order to obtain maximum universal compatibility, SpinRite uses the BIOS to perform its bulk data transfer. We have encountered instances where specific details of the drive's cabling, timing, or data, relating to that spot on the drive surface, can cause a particular BIOS to never return to SpinRite after SpinRite's request for data transfer. Unfortunately, a problem like that is out of SpinRite's control, since, from a programming standpoint, if the BIOS hangs SpinRite is kept waiting forever. However, relocating such a “hanging” drive to a different system or perhaps just to a different controller in the same system and re-running SpinRite through this "rough spot" will likely resolve the problem permanently and fix whatever is wrong at that spot on the drive. We've often seen that a different system won't hang. And once that's been done, the drive could be returned to original system or controller and run without further trouble.
  4. You might also check to see whether the drive's manufacturer has their own proprietary software to test/check their drives. Today's drives often have “undocumented” software interfaces that give a manufacturer's software the ability to clear up trouble that cannot be resolved by following the normal rules. And if that's done once then SpinRite would be able to continue maintaining the drive from then on.
  5. If none of the above helps, the final suggestion may seem strange but it works. An age-old trick of the trade is to put the drive in the fridge (not the freezer) for an hour and then trying running the drive cold. Heat is a huge problem for drives and sometimes making a drive very cold will allow SpinRite to run in a situation where before it would not.
Will SpinRite work on non-standard "weird" drives?

The simple rule of thumb is that if drives can work and be recognized under DOS, perhaps with the addition of extra device drivers, they should be "seen" and usable by SpinRite. The only types of drives which probably won't work under SpinRite are those which totally depend upon Windows device drivers and which have no DOS support. Otherwise, SpinRite should be able to see the drive and work with its contents.

I've read that SpinRite v6.0 owners can also get the previous SpinRite version 5.0. How do we do that?

All you need to do is change the filename in the software download URL from "spinrite.exe" to "sr5.exe". To do that . . .

 Display a fresh copy of your SpinRite v6.0 receipt by entering your SpinRite v6.0 transaction code into our customer service page.

 Instead of clicking on the page's software download link (which would download a copy of "spinrite.exe" and use up the link), RIGHT-CLICK on the link and select "Copy Shortcut" to copy the link to your Windows clipboard.

 Next, RIGHT-CLICK in your browser's URL address line and select "Paste". This will paste the software download link into the address line without using it yet.

 Finally, edit the end of the URL, changing it from "spinrite.exe" to "sr5.exe", then press "Enter" to use that edited URL and retrieve your own individually licensed copy of SpinRite v5.0.




Click the left button to begin the process of upgrading or purchasing your own copy of the world's leading mass storage maintenance and data recovery utility.  Or click the right button to read what existing SpinRite users have to say about their experiences with the product . . .

Click to purchase SpinRite v6.0    Click to see what SpinRite's users have said



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Last Edit: May 04, 2013 at 18:12 (349.14 days ago)Viewed 360 times per day