The ridiculous and shameful story of how simply "installing Windows" saved my hard drive from the garbage.
(Also update on https://devrant.com/rants/3105365/)

It started with my root partition turning read-only all of a sudden. Some quick search suggested that I should check the sanity of my hard drive, by running a SMART test, which failed of course. I backed up my data using ddrescue and ran a badblocks over the whole thing, which found around 800 unreadable blocks in a row. I was ready to bid farewell to my drive, but as a last resort, instead of the trash, I brought it to this place where they claimed they can repair the damaged hard drives by "surgery".

To my surprise, they returned my drive the next week, saying it is all well now, and charged me 1/8 the price of a new drive, with a refund guarantee if there was a problem in two days. There was a problem right there: I ran another SMART test which failed again, and also the faulty blocks were still unreadable! So I stormed the place and called for my refund, showing the failed SMART report. The only answer I would get from the staff was "Have you tried installing Windows?".

I usually try to be patient in such situations; I really don't like to declare publicly that "not everyone uses that stinky piece of rotten software you call an OS", but their suggestion seemed totally irrelevant! I got all types of IO errors all over the damn thing and they told me to install Windows. Why? Because this was the only test they would rely on. At last I managed to meet the "technician" there and showed him the IO errors: tried to read the bad sectors with dd and failed. He first mumbled somethings like "Have you checked the connector?" or "Are these the same blocks?", but after he ran out of bullshit, he said "Why don't you just install Windows first and see if that helps?" and I was ready to explode in his face!

"You test drives by installing Windows, just because it will make a nasty NTFS partition and probably does an fsck? If you shut your mouth for a sec and open your eyes you'll see this is a shit load of IO errors we got here: You can't install Windows, you can't even make an NTFS here, because it will try to zero-the-fuck-out the damn partition and it will face the same fucking IO error that I'm showing you right now in almost one single fucking system call!"

"I don't know this kind of test you are using. We have our own tests and they've passed successfully. So all I can do is to give you a Windows CD if you want."

"I don't need a Windows CD. I will just try to make an NTFS partition on the error spot and I will fail."

"Ok. Then call me when your done."

I was angry, not only because I felt they're just trying to avoid a refund, but also because I knew I've lost my drive. But just with hope that I could get my money back, I made a small partition over the error spot and ran `mkfs.ntfs` on it. I was ready to show the failure to the guy, but I looked more precisely and saw that "the filesystem was created successfully!" I was sure something is nor write. I then successfully mounted the new partition, write over it and read it again. I even dd'ed the blocks again, and this time there was no IO error. All of a sudden everything was fine.

I didn't know what happened. Maybe it just needed a write, while I'd just tried to read from those blocks. But anyway, I didn't called the technician guy again. I just thanked one of the staff there and said that my problem was solved. I then ran a successful SMART test and then restored my backup. Ridiculous like that.

I'm still not sure if my drive will continue to live with no more problems. I also have no explanation for what happened. (I appreciate any help on this https://superuser.com/questions/...) But I really like to see the look on the poor guy's face when he finds out that trying to install Windows just saved my ass!

  • 0
    So how does that work? Some sort of block ignoring or what?
  • 0
    @iiii Still no idea. They only mentioned they use something called 'PC-3000'. More details are here https://superuser.com/questions/...
  • 3
    This shit sounds like some sort of black magic. How the hell can this be?
  • 2
    @Demolishun no idea, but I'm happy :D

    at least until my drive dies suddenly
  • 4
    @beleg I would not trust the drive which already failed once
  • 0
    @iiii I can't buy a new drive anyway with these high prices where I live right now. To describe the situation over here, "a dev would be better to look for a new job, than for a new laptop" is a famous quote lately. lol
  • 0
    I don't trust these drives, dude. One fact that one requires Windows is a speculation, of course if manufacturer doesn't provide information about compatibility head-on.
  • 1
    @vintprox Of course it did not require Windows, It was a mere coincidence. I was just too embarrassed to try to explain this to people who thought installing Windows is a reliable hard drive test. The point was that they were right after all: making an NTFS just solved my issue and I got nothing more to say.
  • 1
    @beleg ah, good old NTFS. I assumed that you had one 😜
  • 2
    I would save for a new drive just in case. Not having a computer is a terrible feeling.
  • 1
    @stub tbh I can buy new drive, but it means I must waste the price of a whole PC two years ago. The prices sky-rocketed since then. Anyway I have my backup ready for that day :)
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