They have one mechanical hdd, and no ssd. Prior to this any time the hdd was checked the health status was good. The drive is probably four or five years old at this point.

Edit: I was in a hurry when I posted and I forgot to say they have a laptop so replacing the hdd would be a problem.

Reallocated Sectors Count is the only thing with caution. It has stayed at 8 checking it periodically over the last hour.

Should they be worried, and how much? Is there anything special to do about this?

Edit: After more than a day it's still the same, hasn't gone up at all. When I asked them if the laptop had been dropped or jarred recently (as a possible cause for the damage) they said they had "pressed the touchpad hard" one time when they got mad about something. I don't know if they actually did that hard enough to cause some hdd damage or not (seems unlikely to me), but it possibly might have been the cause if they jarred the laptop hard enough.

I'm going to be helping them back up anything not already backed up over the next several days, with the most essential things backed up first. Or is this high priority to the point that should be done completely asap?

Edit: Is HD Sentinel worth getting? I don't have any particular software I've ever used for monitoring something like this.

New edit: I checked it again today and it's up to 18 reallocated sectors. Looks like we need to find a local repair shop that can replace the hard drive and hopefully clone the drive to the new one so everything doesn't have to be installed again. And at a decent price. Wish me luck?

All important files are already backed up. There's no chance for data loss, at least. Having to reinstall everything would be a pain though if it comes to that. I've never done a clone myself and don't know that works.

4 days ago*

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It only depends on the error item.
You could copy it to the clipboard and paste it here.
(Erase the serial number.)

However, if the item in question is due to "time of use", there will be no immediate impact.
If it is related to a bad sector, it is recommended to back it up, considering the possibility that it will soon reach the end of its useful life.
Consider even one bad sector as a sign of breakdown.
(If the number does not usually increase, it is possible that the bad sector was created by an impact or other cause and the damage will not spread, but this is not a good thing.)

4 days ago
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OhTheFolly, please move this topic to Hardware via big green Open button, so you get the best help possible 😉

HDD avg lifespan is 5yrs, but wisest to replace a month before warrantee expires and re-use for long term storage
RSC is a S.M.A.R.T. bad sectors report, how fast it grows = how imminant mechanical failure
complete backup ASAP - some/all data unrecoverable if that hangs (read/write errors)

there are two types of bad sectors, soft (file system) and hard (physical)

use CHKDSK to fix soft
Open My Computer, right-click the hard disk > Properties > Tools tab > click "Check Now" in the Error-Checking Status area.
In the Check Disk dialog box, tick "Automatically Fix File System Errors" and "Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors", then click Start button
ignore if it initially reports no need or no errors found, click " -> Scan Drive" anyway

any remaining are hard, but may be safe to use for rarely accessed storage
a full format puts the HDD under high stress, which can trigger almost bad hards & mechanicals, the tool/option is on the installation disk
if deep formatting hangs or keeps increasing bad sectors, then it's a paperweight

4 days ago*
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After scanning anyway Check Disk still found no errors. I guess that' a good sign.

2 days ago
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nope, chkdsk can only detect and fix NTFS (file system) errors
now you know those reallocations are from permanent damage (crumbling, flaking, cracks, etc)
I wouldn't even trust that HDD for storage, get that precious data before it's non-recoverable
they're lucky, sudden armature failure usually happens first nowadays

if keep using, overwatch how fast reallocation count increases, hard bad sectors spread like cancer

2 days ago
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Yep, it's getting worse. Everything important is backed up now at least.

Reallocated had gone from 8 up to 18 when I checked it today. Hopefully there's somewhere near here that can replace the laptop's hd (ideally cloning it to the new drive) at a reasonable price.

There's no places open on the weekend, so I have a question. Until we can get it replaced do you have any idea if it's better to hibernate it overnight, or do a shut down?

The person who uses it has bad eyesight and mobility issues so it's hard for them to do anything not on the laptop, tbh. They might refuse to stop using until we can bring it in for repair and I'd like to try to preserve it as much as possible, in the hopes that by the time it gets to a repair shop it can still be cloned to put on the replacement drive.

Or if it's is so critical at this point that continuing to use it now would be a huge risk of killing the drive entirely and making it unable to be cloned, maybe I would be able to convince them. But it would help to be able to show them someone confirming that it's very important to not use it at all, if that's the case.

I don't know how cloning works myself. And I don't know that there's enough free space left for a clone anyway now that everything is backed up. I don't thing trying to clone it myself would be viable.

1 day ago
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since crucial data is backed up, it doesn't matter if they continue use and you can forget cloning
Windows installation now creates a hidden encrypted partition with device IDs, other security measures, Restores, etc.
must install a fresh OS on a new HDD, then transfer online account to register what MS considers a new machine
need to buy a new copy, if they have a single use Home Version

cloning takes a snapshot image of the entire partition, best stored on a different HDD in a larger partition
the hidden partition is specifically designed to not be cloned, welcome to Windows 8+

1 day ago*
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Seriously? That should be illegal as anti consumer. They have Home, so I would guess that also means it's single use.

If Windows has to be bought again, that might make it not worth the price to get the hdd replaced in comparison to getting a new laptop. I don't have any idea how much it would cost for the repair. I don't know how they'll find all the drivers for the laptop's hardware to put on a new installation of Windows either.

I wonder what places might sell laptops with mechanical hdds these days (they need a big hdd, so that's necessary). And not something that cuts corners and won't last, like Dell. They aren't a gamer and didn't even have a video card. But I really don't know what specs to go for. They use the internet a lot, watch videos and Youtube, and often end up opening so many pages at once that the laptop would go to 100% ram usage with 8gb of ram (which is silly, but they do if often enough that they probably should have more than 8gb). Other than that I don't know what cpu would be needed for massively heavy browser usage.

Sorry for ranting and thank you for the help you've been giving. I didn't expect this to be frustration free of course, but it's turning into much more of a headache than I was expecting.

16 hours ago
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Unfortunately, it's deemed legit DRM protection and is listed in the fine print.
we can't buy software anymore, only purchase the right to use, including Steam games, excluding freeware ie open source
if you have the installation disc/stick, Windows support may let you slide once or twice for the odd new device
always ensure you get an OEM installation disc/stick, when buying a pre-built PC machine (laptop, tablet, desktop)
electronic goods should be replaced every 5 years, to minimise problems and optimise selling price, full lifespan varies wildly

phone around for quick rough estimates, so you can make an informed decision
Windows includes drivers, but best to get updated drivers and tools from manufacturers online
laptop models usually have an OEM package online, but often includes bloatware

I know better and still use my browser that way 🤣
i5 CPU, onboard (built-in) GPU, 16Gb RAM and 64k OS should be fine for that usage
they'll only need 32Gb RAM for editing videos, playing more than one at a time or opening 100+ browser tabs
suggest setting browser to open all new tabs unactive in the background and an addon to make all other tabs inactive

don't need a drive larger than 3x data stored (allows for hidden partition), so a SD may suit and is much faster
consider a USB external HDD for storage, downloads and temp video files (created while watching)
can move special folders there, ie RC My Music > properties > location tab > move

no worries and it's not ranting when making logical sense and providing details to help others help you better 🙂

8 hours ago*
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Eh, given the age, I'd probably just get it replaced.
I would suggest if they can, not using it until it has been backed up.

4 days ago
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Keep an eye out. If their numbers don't increase (not in an hour, but in a long run), then the HDD is still usable.
Nevertheless, create a backup of all important data you have just in case.

4 days ago
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Considering the age, backup and move any valuable data to another disk, and use it only for big data storage and/or things you can recover in other ways: movies, Steam or digital platform games, workspace, etc. Get a new disk before you get a big failure. Paraphrasing AvsP, it's like a condom: better have it and not need it, than needing it but have none.

If your relative doesn't have any special needs, you can get a new hd cheap (no ssd) for system and valuable data, and leave the rest on the old disk.
Most times hard disk lifetime is a matter of luck. You might have a brick after less than 2 years, or it might last flawless for 10 years. But yes, 4-5 years is about average lifetime.

4 days ago
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Unfortunately it's a laptop. I wouldn't be able to replace the hdd myself (the one time I tried taking apart a laptop I managed to permanently damage the screen badly, and I have no idea how I even managed to do that. Fortunately that thing was mostly junk at that point).

2 days ago
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Oh it's a laptop. I didn't have that into account. Let me think (2 seconds, it's my max attention span...)
Ok, you can still use an image maker (Macrium Reflect) and put it in an external USB disk and boot from it. Not sure how the drive letters will act, maybe you need to fiddle a few times with disk manager. But I find feasible using an USB hd both for system and work, and either use the internal hd for some non-important storage, or disable it in BIOS altogether.

1 day ago
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I have HDD that has 349 reallocated sectors for a few years and is working fine for ~12.5 years with read/write load almost 24/7.
But of course i wouldn't use it for storing any important data in single copy.
So better to have backup.

It has stayed at 8 checking it periodically over the last hour.

It won't update by just checking S.M.A.R.T.
At least use full drive read check. But it still may miss problems because for HDD reading is easier than writing.
The best way to detect really bad sectors on disk - full drive write integrity check. But it will destroy all data on disk so first need to move them to another HDD. (Almost all reallocated sectors on that my "bad" hdd were added after these yearly write-checks.)

3 days ago
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To add what others have said... reallocated sectors are not necessarily a sign of sure death. Most drives have hundreds or even thousands of spare sectors for exactly that purpose. Reallocated sectors have been safely remapped to spares without causing any error. "Unrecoverable" sector errors are when you really have to worry.

Whether to toss the drive at the first sign of problem depends on how important the data is, whether you have good backups, whether you want to spend money, difficulty of replacing it, difficulty of restoring from backups, etc.

If it is on 8 and stays on 8 for a year, congrats, no big problem. It may have been caused by a one-time impact like a drop or whatever. Definitely check it on a regular basis. If the number keeps rising, then you should be concerned.

Furthermore, assuming it is using NTFS, the filesystem keeps its own list of bad sectors and will keep data away from them as needed.

The drive's manufacturer may have their own drive testing tools which might have a more accurate test. For example Seagate has Seatools

2 days ago
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Should they be worried, and how much? Is there anything special to do about this?

It's usually downhill from that point on, but as others have said, although the risk is a little bit increased, it still shouldn't die suddenly.
I had a similar issue, or actually much worse, with my old laptop's HD. I kept using it despite it having way more bad sectors for a long time. I eventually got tired of the occasional file loss (that was very rare, I think I just lost a couple of files, not more) and more than occasional very, very slow read/write speed in some partially damaged sectors, so finally spent like half a day extracting it from wherever deep it was buried in the damn laptop and replaced it with a SSD.

Long story short, you'll probably have plenty more serious warnings before it fails completely. Watch out for slowdowns and weird noises, and do take action if you start losing files. And check from time to time if that reallocated sector count increases.
I never had an HD fail on me completely except one after like 10 year of cold storage and another one after degrading regularly over at least a year. But that's just my experience, not a guarantee 👀

2 days ago
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Do a backup (always do / have) and besides that: live your/their best life with that HDD. It could degrade or meant something bad, but it could also mean more or less nothing. I wouldn't care much for now, just a friendly reminder to always have a backup :3

1 day ago
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