I have a 500Gb 2.5 External Hard-Drive. I have separated good-sectors into "X" partition, and have separated bad-sectors into "Y" partition.

I've managed to use that drive as a backup. But is it safe if I use that "X" partition to save my critically-important backup files?

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    I think your question is really: "what are the risks of saving files on a hard drive that has known bad sectors?" And that's more of a hardware question.
    – schroeder
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 8:06
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    Would you really trust a drive which has failed you once for critical data? Unless you know why the bad sectors are in the second partition and that the cause for these bad sectors will not cause more bad sectors or complete drive failure in the future I would not trust such a drive, especially not for critical data. Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 8:40
  • A hard drive which is failing is never a good place to put critical files. Perhaps put it into a RAID1 or simply replace the drive.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 20:46
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    RAID1 is two drives that are "mirrored" - so if one fails the other has all the information intact. Bad sectors can be managed up to a point. The real takeaway is that once you begin seeing bad sectors on a drive it is a warning that maybe something is going to get worse. RAID1 protects against total failure of a single drive. To put your files there, first run a backup then set up the RAID pair and then restore the backup into the set. Windows can handle RAID1 in software, and some PCs support it in hardware. I think your bottom line is to prepare for that drive to fail.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 17:14
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    I would add that while this is a hardware problem unfolding, it definitely falls under the category of information security. Security includes both preventing unauthorized access as well as protecting the information you have. What you have is like a safe where you notice water condensation inside. That water must have come from somewhere, and will likely corrode the walls of the safe and get worse. So even though the safe door may be locked tightly, your papers inside are at risk of loss.
    – SDsolar
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


As usual, the answer is it depends.

First, saving sensitive data in a single support is always a risk. Almost every broken device worked nicely until things have gone wrong, and disk manufacturers only give a mean time between failure, which means that extreme values can be rather far from that mean value.

Said differently, the trust in a HDD cannot be binary, and critically important backup files should exist in 2 different supports. When I was younger we used different tape sets to make sure that if a tape was no longer readable, the data (eventually a slightly older version) will exist on another one.

Modern disks almost always have bad sectors, and contain a table of those bad sectors. You only get alerts from the firmware when that table is ready to fill up. And the disk controller hides those hard level details from you.

That being said, if the disk has a lot of bad sectors because it fell on the ground while being accessed, as you can fear other damages on the hardware, you should not use it for important data. But the mere presence of bad sectors, without more details on the age of the device or a special cause is not a reliable hint for the trust you can have on it.

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