Is Data Lost to a Bad Drive Sector Gone Forever?

This is a common question when it comes to technical assistance. One of the most common problems that consumers have with a hard drive is the failure of a sector. Let’s discuss what sectors are, why they go bad, and how data can be recovered.


A sector is just a small section of the data that is stored on your drive. If your computer is a few years old, each sector may only hold as little as .5Kb of data. More recent machines hold about 4Kb per sector. It is a tiny amount of data, but it can throw off a lot if there is a failure. While the sector only holds a fragment of a file, without that fragment the file may not open properly or may take a long time to load.

Why Do Sectors Fail?

Depending on the model hard drive that you are using, the drive may spin from 5-15,000 RPMs. Not only is that speed a strain on drive sectors, but it also creates a lot of heat – technology’s worst enemy. Over time, this causes stress to the hardware at the molecular level.

The part of a hard drive that contains stored data is basically a film of magnetic material. It does not take much to cause damage. As damage occurs, it may simply take longer to open files. As the number of bad sectors increase, it is a strong indicator that hard drive failure is imminent. Your best bet is to back up your data and abandon the drive.

Can I Prolong the Inevitable?

Again, your best bet is to have a backup. Other than that, try to reduce heat on your device as much as possible. For example, you may want an external fan for your laptop.

Can I Rescue the Data?

If you lose data without a backup, do not give in to despair. Nine times out of 10, a well-trained, professional service with experience in data recovery can retrieve your data.