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Surface Defect
Defects? . . . But Isn't My Drive PERFECT?

No. One of the BIGGEST LIES being told to users of contemporary mass storage systems -- and their operating systems -- is that their drives are "flawless."

THE TRUTH IS that the surfaces of our hard disks are littered with manufacturing variations which adversely affect the surface's ability to retain and represent the data stored there.

Before drives became "intelligent", and able to hide their defective regions, they wore their defects out on their sleeves. The photo below shows a typical RLL drive of that era with a long list of the "known defects" at the time of manufacture.

Defects on the Label

Note the "HD-CYL-BYTE" legend showing that the numbers represent
the physical head, cylinder, and byte location of the defects that
were known at the time of the drive's original manufacture.

Why would any manufacturer "advertise" their drive's defects in this manner? Because the purchaser of the drive was required to manually enter this list into the system's low-level formatting program so that the sectors containing those defective spots could be "marked bad" and prevented from ever being used to hold data. As you can imagine, people did not appreciate buying a "new" drive that contained defects. So they'd select the drives with the shortest defect lists, leaving the worst drives for the next guy who didn't know any better.

The instant our drives became intelligent, carrying their own built-in controllers, the very first thing to disappear from the outside of the drive were the defect lists.

An "intelligent" drive's on board brain works to make the drive appear "defect free" by managing a pool of spare sectors and "redirecting" any accesses to the drive's internally defective sectors to the corresponding "reallocated" spare sector. Thus, users all believed that drives became perfect. Also, there was no longer any way to select the "best" drives from the herd. Nor was there any way to tell one manufacturer from another or to know what was really going on inside the drive.

So What's Wrong With Automatic, Internal, Defect Management?

Normally nothing. When everything is working right, automatic internal defect management works like a charm. But the problems arise when things start deteriorating inside the drive, or when newly defective sectors start turning up.

Huh? "Newly" Defective Sectors?

Oh yes. You see, the defects that a drive has when it's first made are just the tip of the iceberg! The mass storage industry has a term for the defects which arise from daily drive use. They are called Grown Defects because defects literally "grow" on the surface of the drive!

We're not making this up! See for yourself!
Click Here to have GOOGLE search for the
term "Grown Defect" and browse around a bit!

Since it is the drive's sworn job to keep a lid on the true defective nature of its storage surfaces, the user and the operating system are the last to know when large areas of the drive begin dying.

The BIGGEST PROBLEM with this autonomous "grown" defect management is that the ONLY TIME the drive can detect that a sector has a problem is when it has trouble reading back YOUR DATA! And, as is discussed on the "Data Recovery" page, the drive gives up on trying to get your data back much too quickly, and then replaces the newly defective sector (which used to be just fine until a defect GREW inside it) with a spare EMPTY replacement!

Okay,  So How Does SpinRite Help?

SpinRite is THE WORLD'S ONLY Non-
Destructive Surface Defect Analysis Utility!

Unlike any other utility software, SpinRite's time-proven technology allows it to safely scrub your drive's data storage surfaces WHILE THEY ARE IN USE and fully loaded with your data! This means that you can run SpinRite whenever you wish to make sure that your drive's data is ALL safe and sound!

Here's how SpinRite does it:

Remove & Recover User's Data
SpinRite first lifts the drive's user data from a region that it will be testing. And, if the data cannot be read easily, SpinRite brings to bear the most comprehensive data recovery technology that's ever been created -- by a long shot!

Surface Scrub the Testing Region
SpinRite then reads and writes specially crafted data patterns that it has designed to be the most difficult for the drive to read and write. These patterns employ sophisticated magnetodynamic physics models to write the weakest possible magnetic signals on the storage surfaces. If the drive can read these artificial signals back, it can read anything ... including your data.

The SpinRite Defect Detection Magnetodynamics page
explains more than you'll ever want to know about exactly
how SpinRite locates weak spots and defective sectors.
So, if you've been having trouble falling asleep ...

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: While SpinRite is performing this extensive surface scrubbing -- with your data being held safely off the disk -- the drive's automatic defect relocation capabilities are fully active and SpinRite is working to show the drive its own defective sectors! This stimulates the drive to replace any that SpinRite can demonstrate are bad, with brand new spares!

Return the User's Data
After the region has passed all of SpinRite's tests, and the drive has relocated any sectors that "it" may have discovered to be bad, SpinRite replaces the user's data into the absolutely safe and freshly tested region, then moves on to the next region to test.

By running SpinRite on your system's drives from time to time, you can prevent unseen and undetected defects from growing underneath your data and you can keep your drive operating reliably for the full duration of its life.

Remember: No other utility can test
the surfaces of your drives AT ANY TIME.

As Richard Grehan wrote in his BYTE Magazine review of SpinRite:

"All I can say about the Gibson Research people is that they did their homework. You shouldn't underestimate its usefulness. SpinRite is what the word MUST was invented for."

Now you know why he said that.

SpinRite Overview Screen Shots Documentation
Defect Detection Data Recovery Reviews
Exclusive Features Feature Summary SpinRite Q&A
Version History Notify me of important news!

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Last Edit: Feb 19, 2004 at 13:12 (7,450.65 days ago)Viewed 8 times per day