Gibson Research Corporation $89.00
Hard drives have the bad habit of occasionally dying, at best causing inconvenience, and at worst taking with them important data that should have been backed up, but wasn’t. In most cases the crash is not caused by a mechanical failure, but, rather, by an increasing number of sectors which have gone bad, eventually rendering the drive useless.
SpinRite addresses this problem in two ways. The first is prophylactic. The program directly reads and stores the data from each sector – bypassing the system software that can sometimes mask problems – and then tests the sector. If the test is successful, the data is returned. If the test fails, the data is put into a clean sector and the sector marked as bad. SpinRite contains a good deal of sophisticated logic to get all possible data from a sector. In essence this helps assure you that all of your data is safely stored.
This brings us to SpinRite’s second feature, the ability to recover data from a dead drive. Because of SpinRite’s ability to do direct reads of sectors – including multiple reads, repositioning the heads to find spots at which a read is possible, and a host of other tricks, SpinRite is often able to either recover a lost file in its totality, or with minimal loss, or with a statistical reconstruction of a given sector, disaster is often avoided. Shortly after getting SpinRite, we had a drive go bad in three critical sectors. SpinRite made it work again, with no data loss. In many cases, use of SpinRite for recovery will avoid the necessity of spending thousands of dollars to send the disk to a lab for reconstruction.
As it worked out, sometime after getting the software, we had a machine give us the dreaded message that it couldn’t find the drive, and that we needed to insert a book diskette. We ran SpinRite in recovery mode, and it booted up properly. We then ran it in maintenance mode, and it found three bad sectors. It recovered the data and marked the sectors as bad, and we were back in business!
SpinRite is the only product of its kind. According to the documentation, “SpinRite is able to operate on all Windows XP NTFS formats, all DOS FAT, all Linux file systems, Novell, Macintosh (if temporarily moved into a PC) or anything else — it can even be used to repair and recover the hard drive from an ailing TiVo!”
SpinRite goes into the must-have category. If your people aren’t using SpinRite, tell them they should.