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What Are Bad Sectors

What Are Bad Sectors
Before trying to explain what is a bad sector it would be useful to understand what a sector is or how a drive is structured. In simplistic terms a drive platter or disk is divided into what is known as tracks. If you imagine looking at a tree trunk that had been felled, the rings of the tree could be likened to the data tracks on a hard disk.


Each drive is also sub divided into slices like for example on a darts board or when you slice a pizza, and a sector is simply a section of the ring in a particular slice just like the double or triple score zone on the dart board. Sectors generally to all intents and purposes hold 512 bytes of information.

If a sector loses the ability to store data either through damage or drive degradation the sector is deemed to be bad. In the early years of drive technology bad sectors would be considered extremely bad news and even a relatively small amount could cause a lot of problems.

Fortunately as drive capacity has increased and with the advent of SMART technology bad sectors can be remapped so to all intents and purposes they are none existent to the user, however even with SMART large numbers of bad sectors can still cause data loss especially if the drive is degrading.


The ability to "mark" a sector as bad and to be avoided has enabled HDD capacities to to increase whilst bringing costs down.

Essentially a hard disk drive will keep track of its own bad sectors but if the surface of the platter progressively degrades sooner or later the amount of sectors relative to the total sectors on the drive becomes significant and the file system or firmware zone could become if the data track affected contains important information such as the MFT and for sfe recovery of the data you may need the help and advice of a data recovery expert.

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