From time to time, when bad sectors accumulate in a hard disk, this disk can go bad. If this happens, the data in the damaged sectors will be lost but you should still have access to the rest of the data on the disk.

To prevent any data loss resulting from bad sectors and stop the process in time, go through the tips below. In this article, we will cover the following:

  • What is a sector?
  • How are bad sectors created?
  • What types of bad sectors are there?
  • And how to repair bad sectors

Finally, we’ll share a great solution with you for keeping your system optimized and running smoothly.

Let’s get started.

What is a sector?

A sector is a unit of information that is stored on a hard disk. The standard sector is 512 bytes in size.

How are bad sectors created?

There are several things that may cause a sector to go bad. These may include:

  • An improper shutdown of Windows;
  • Hard disk defects such as general surface wear, pollution of the air inside the unit, or the head touching the surface of the disk;
  • Low quality or aging hardware such as a bad processor fan, dodgy data cables, an overheated hard drive, etc.
  • Malware infecting your system.

What types of bad sectors are there?

There are two main types of bad sectors: hard sectors and soft sectors.

Hard bad sectors are the sectors that have been physically damaged (for instance, as a result of a head crash), or in a fixed magnetic state.

If you’ve bumped your computer while data was being written onto a hard disk or if it was exposed to extreme heat, a bad sector may have been created.

Soft bad sectors are created when an error correction code (ECC) in the sector doesn’t match the content of the sector. The errors in a soft bad sector are logical, not physical. To repair them, you will need to overwrite all the data with zeros.

How to repair soft bad sectors on Windows 10/11?

When your operating system detects bad sectors, it will mark them as unusable, whether they are soft bad sectors or hard bad sectors. Because of this, there is no way to avoid data loss as well as the loss of disk capacity.

So, how to fix bad sectors on hard drive?

The first thing you will need to do is back up and clone your hard disk to a good hard drive, skipping bad sectors.

If there are too many soft bad sectors on your disk and you are often dealing with slow-downs and glitches, it may be impossible to repair the bad sectors. In this case, the best option is to back up and save all the remaining data on your hard disk first.

If your hard drive is experiencing one or multiple soft bad sectors, you can try the following solutions to fix them:

  • Checking for system errors on the disk
  • Running the CHKDSK Command and formatting your hard drive
  • Defragmenting your hard disk
  • Using Windows PowerShell to repair disk errors
  • Troubleshooting from Recovery
  • Booting into Safe Mode
  • And reinstalling Windows.

Fix one: check for system errors on the disk (Windows 11)

The first thing you can do is scan your hard disk for system errors. Here’s how

  • Press the Windows 11 keyboard shortcut Win key + E.
  • Next, right-click the needed drive and open Properties.
  • Go to Tools and select Check under Error checking.
  • Next, on the pop-up window, click Select drive.
  • Windows 11 will then go on to look for system errors in the selected drive. If any issue is detected, you will be able to repair the disk.

Fix two: run the CHKDSK Command and format the hard drive

If there are only a few bad sectors in your hard drive, you can use the CHKDSK command first and then format the hard drive to repair the bad sectors. Here are the steps to take:

  • Press the Win key on your keyboard.
  • Type in “cmd”.
  • Right-click Command Prompt and select the Run as administrator option.
  • Type in “chkdsk E: /f /r /x” and press the Enter key. (you will need to replace the E with the needed hard drive letter).

Next, you will need to format your hard drive. Here’s how:

  • Go to Windows File Explorer.
  • Locate your hard drive and right-click it.
  • Select Format.
  • Reset the file system as NTFS.
  • Next, check the Quick Format and click Start.

Once this is done, you can save the data back to your hard drive and it will be usable again.

Fix three: defragment your hard disk

If you are running Windows 11 or Windows 10 on a mechanical hard disk, you can try defragmenting the drive. Note that if you are using an SSD, this method is not recommended as it will affect your SSD’s lifespan.

Here’s how to proceed:

  • Press the Win key and look for “defragment”.
  • Open the Defragment and Optimize Drivers tab.
  • Select the needs drive and click Optimize
  • Wait as Windows completes the defragmentation process.
  • Once it’s complete, restart Windows 11.
  • Your disk errors should now be fixed.

Fix four: use Windows PowerShell to repair disk errors

Here is how to use PowerShell on Windows 10/11:

  • Press the Win key and type “powershell“.
  • Select the Run as administrator option on the right.
  • In the new window, copy and paste this command and press the Enter key:

Repair-Volume C –OfflineScanAndFix (Replace C with the needed drive letter).

  • Next, run the following command: Repair-Volume C –Scan (replace C with the needed drive letter).

When the repair process is complete, restart Windows and check whether disk errors have been resolved.

Fix five: troubleshoot from Recovery

If you are looking at error messages like “Windows detected a hard disk problem” or “Repairing disk errors” during boot, you will need to troubleshoot your Windows PC from the recovery screen. Here is how:

  • Before you proceed, shut down your PC.
  • Turn it back on and you see the Windows loading sign, turn your PC off again. You will need to do this two or three times.
  • Windows will then load a recovery screen.
  • Alternatively, you can press F2, F8, or F12 (depending on what PC you are using) during boot. This will also bring up the Startup recovery screen.
  • Once on the Recovery screen, click Advanced options.
  • Next, go to Troubleshoot and open Command Prompt.
  • In the Command Prompt window, run the following commands:

bootrec /fixmbr

bootrec /fixboot

bootrec /rebuildbcd

Restart your PC and check if the issue has been resolved.

Fix six: boot into Safe Mode

If you are still having the same issues, boot into Safe Mode and go try out all of the above solutions again:

  • check for system errors on the disk
  • run the CHKDSK Command and format the hard drive
  • defragment your hard disk
  • and use Windows PowerShell to repair disk errors

Once this is done, restart your PC. Your disk errors should now be solved.

Fix seven: reinstall Windows

Finally, if none of the above solutions have worked, your next best bet is to just reinstall Windows.

To reinstall Windows without losing your files, follow the steps below:

  • Go to Settings.
  • Select System.
  • On the right side, click Recovery.
  • Under Recovery options, press the Reset PC button to start Windows reinstallation.
  • Make sure to select the Keep my files option.
  • Next, select the Cloud download option (if you want to download Windows 11 to perform a fresh reinstallation) or the Local reinstall option (if you want to use local files to reinstall your operating system).
  • Click Next and Reset.

Once you’ve completed these steps, your Windows will be reinstalled and you will keep all your files. Note, however, that your settings will be reset and your apps will be removed.

We hope that the above solutions have been helpful and you’ve successfully gotten rid of bad sectors on your hard disk, restoring your system to its full capacity. In this regard, there is one more tool we’d like to recommend.

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