How to Locate and Recover Data From Bad Sectors

Recover data using chkdsk in recovery console in Windows XP

Screenshot of the chkdsk /r command and results in Windows XP Recovery Console
"chkdsk /r" Recovery Console Command Results.

A sector of a hard drive is the smallest divisible unit of the physical drive, at least as far as storing data is concerned. As a hard drive fails, one sector after another becomes unusable.

Fortunately, all the data in a sector may not be permanently lost. If a failing hard drive has prevented you from starting your computer, the damaged data that's causing the problem might be recoverable from within Recovery Console.

Follow these easy steps to use Recovery Console tools to locate and recover data from bad sectors on your hard drive.

How to Recover Your Data

  • Enter Windows XP Recovery Console. The Recovery Console is an advanced diagnostic mode of Windows XP with special tools that will allow you to find and recover bad sectors.
    When you reach the Command Prompt (detailed in Step 6 in the link above), type the following command and then press Enter.
    chkdsk /r
  • The chkdsk command will scan your hard drive for any damaged sectors. If any data is readable from any bad sector found, chkdsk will recover it.
  • Take out the Windows XP CD, type exit and then press Enter to restart your PC. Assuming bad hard drive sectors were the cause of your problem and chkdsk was able to recover data from them, Windows XP should now start normally.

If you see a "CHKDSK found and fixed one or more errors on the volume" message, chkdsk did actually find and correct some unspecified problem. Otherwise, chkdsk didn't find any problems.

If you can, in fact, access Windows normally, you can run the Windows equivalent of the chkdsk tool. See How to Scan Your Hard Drive Using Error Checking in Windows XP for help.

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