Does partitioning reduce bad sectors? @ tk here on Friday, February 03, 2006 9:59 PM
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Friday, February 03, 2006

Does partitioning reduce bad sectors?

A friend recently asked me if partitioning his hard disk would reduce the amount of bad sectors on the hard disk. He explained that a friend of his had told him that partitioning would help to reduce/prevent bad sectors.

At first, I wondered how partitioning could ever help to stop bad sectors. After a few minutes, I thought about how bad sectors occur in the first place. Off the top of my head, I reasoned that possibly wear and tear or dust would cause them. So I replied that it would probably help with wear and tear issues, but it was still a stupid idea. I told him hard disks have a MTBF, but constant rewriting over the same area could cause a part of the hard disk to wear faster than others.

If you were using 2 partitions, and used only one for data storage, you would end up with one "new" partition and one "old" partition, thus bringing you back to square one, since the "old" partition would have more rewrites. If you were using both partitions it would basically be the same as using it unpartitioned, unless you alternated between each partition.

By partitioning, I figured it was possible but not practical to partition into very small partitions of around 2GB in order to even out the wear and tear of the hard disk. You would have to copy the data into each partition sequentially and remember which partition you last used. In the end I thought it was not a very smart thing to do, so I concluded with:

me: partitioning into very small partitions: 1 hr
me: copying data sequentially into small partitions: 1 hr
me: data saved from no bad sectors: priceless!
me: and then finding out not partitioning would yield the same result: !??!#&^@

Now I'm just wondering if partitioning would help your hard disk or this is just another urban legend. I did a Google search after the conversation and came up with nothing. Comments on this are welcome.



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On 03 February, 2006 22:48, Anonymous said...

Consider a flash disk, these devices have a limited amount of write cycles. If you would install a normal file system especially the FAT and directory cluster would wear out the first. Therefore special file systems have been developed that moves shifts the spots where it would write data from where it was or got erased making maximum use of the amount of write cycles. See

On 03 February, 2006 22:51, Kiltak said...

Hmmm, When we think about it, your argument may be valid. It'S just that the partition with the OS would be used as much as it would be on an unpartitioned HD. This may be of some help later if you need to get back your data in case of a HD crash...

I wrote an article on Data Recovery if anyone is interested:

Hard drive recovery utilities: when you can't afford to lose that data


Freeze your hard drive to recover data: Myth or reality?

Both stories appeared on Digg's Front page a while ago.

What's your opinion about this?

On 03 February, 2006 23:17, Anonymous said...

I remember the article on freezing, (un)fortunately I did not have to try it yet. I think you can split up HD failure in two main categories: hardware failure in the mechanics or surface problems on the platter. This article is part of the second problem.

From the many hard drive problems in the second category, it's usually the FAT table and the (main) directory table which give a lot of damage. On a FAT(16/32) and I believe also NTFS they are always found on the same spot of the HD. When a hard drive would be handled roughly there is a high change it's writing/reading in these areas.

Moving them constantly to other places could help, however you need to store somewhere the cluster where to find them... which gives another hotspot on the platter.

P.s. Journalised file systems are a big help in auto-recovery of index/dir problems (like EXT3, Reiser).

On 03 February, 2006 23:21, Anonymous said...

Wear and tear? Umm... hard disks are electro*magnetic* devices. Waving a magnet past it crates so incredibly tiny stresses that I doubt it would cause any wear even during thousands of years.

The reason why bad sectors appear is, imo, slight impurities in the disk material.

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