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Chapter 17. Wielding the Windows 98 Syst... > Preventing and Repairing Hard Disk E...

Preventing and Repairing Hard Disk Errors with ScanDisk

An old ad for Steve Gibson's SpinRite hard disk utilities said it all: “Hard disks die.” That's a stark message but, let's face it, an honest one. Just consider everything that a modern hard disk has to put up with:

General wear and tear: If your computer is running right now, its hard disk is spinning away at between 5,400 and 10,000 revolutions per minute. That's right, even though you're not doing anything, the hard disk is hard at work. Because of this constant activity, most hard disks simply wear out after a few years.

The old bump-and-grind: Your hard disk includes “read/write heads” that are used to read data from and write data to the disk. These heads float on a cushion of air just above the spinning hard disk platters. A bump or jolt of sufficient intensity can send them crashing onto the surface of the disk, which could easily result in trashed data. If the heads happen to hit a particularly sensitive area, the entire hard disk could crash.

Power surges: The current that is supplied to your PC is, under normal conditions, relatively constant. It's possible, however, for your computer to be assailed by massive power surges (for example, during a lightning storm). These surges can wreak havoc on a carefully arranged hard disk.

Power outages: If a power outage shuts down your system while you're working in Windows, you will almost certainly lose some data, and you might (in extremely rare cases) lose access to your hard disk as well.

Viruses: Unfortunately, computer viruses are all too common nowadays. Although some of these viruses are benign—they display cute messages or cause characters to “fall off” the screen—most are downright vicious and exist only to trash your valuable data (more on this topic later).

Bad programming: Some not-ready-for-prime-time software programs can end up running amok and destroying large chunks of your hard disk in the process. Luckily, these rogues are fairly rare these days.



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