Info on SPINRITE utility by Steve Gibson at

Info (rough description) on how Hard Drives work internally

Spinrite is a program uses magnetic flux reversal patterns to determine if the Hard Drive disk-surface is good enough to write a
HIGH-LOWsignal next to each other without b l e e d i n g.
It also rewrites the disk surfaces refreshing magnetic signals without erasing anything, low-level re-formatting - based on the idea that a magnetically charged disk surface will lose it's magnetic strength eventually and begin to bleed or fade like an old pair of Levi's.

tech note: do not read this or your brain will rot:
A typical hard drive has three magnetically coated platters inside the small case (case = the size of an 8 track tape).
Each platter has your data and your system files written on one side.
The other side of each platter is a "map of the platter surface", a system outlining each sector and track in magnetic code.
When the Hard Drive is seeking a particular sector containing particular data it needs to feed to the computer, based on the internal mapping that tells the drive which sector the data is located in, the opposite positioning head accurately locates Sector X on the bottom side of the platter, then instantaneously the data head reads the data on the top side.
Now, to really mess you up, any data (that is more than a very tiny amount - typically 4kb) isn't actually written consecutively on a single platter like a song on a record or a CD.
No, instead, as data is written to the Hard Drive, like when you save a file, it's actually striped (if you can picture that) across all three platters simultaneously, but the internal gymnastics of the drive make that completely transparent on the output.

Spinrite will run overnight or longer.  It can RECOVER data in bad spots (if any), not just truncate it.  If you quit before it finishes, when you restart, it will start where it last stopped.

Spinrite will not currently read NTFS drives, only FAT or FAT32.  NTFS is the "native" format for Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

NTFS isn't a type of drive you buy.  NTFS refers to how the drive was initially partitioned and formatted.

FAT or FAT16 is native to DOS and old Windows including early Windows 95.  It is the most basic, and all forms of Windows and a few other Operating Systems can read FAT.  A drive created with FAT partitioning must be 2 Gigabytes or less.
(For reference, as of this date 07-04-2003, the smallest hard drive you can buy at that store is 40 Gigabites.)

FAT32 (also generically called FAT) came about with the later releases of Windows 95 and Windows 98.  Windows 2000 and Windows XP are also very happy to use FAT32.  It's compatible, but less sophisticated and less capable of monitoring data integrity on-the-fly as it's writing.  FAT32 is limited to a drive size of about 127 or 132 Gigabytes, IF the drive was initially set up using Windows 98. Currently there are home user drives for sale over 200 Gigabytes for people with a lot of movies or music to store.  Windows 2000 and XP stop at 33 Gigabytes for a FAT32 partition.

NTFS (New Technology File System) came about as version 4 with Windows NT (business Operating System), about the same time as Windows 95.  NTFS is more stable and secure because of how it writes "transactions" in a log as it's writing to the drive.  NTFS is less prone to errors.  NTFS version 5 is the "native" format for Windows 2000 and Windows XP.  NTFS drives can be enormous, in a theoretical range even.

Windows 95 cannot read NTFS at all.  Windows 98 cannot read it all all.  It doesn't even consider an NTFS drive a "hard drive".  It considers it an "unreadable volume".

SO, unfortunately if your computer is new enough that it contains Windows XP Home Edition or Windows 2000, it probably cannot utilize Spinrite. The only way it could be handy is if you first format your "new drive" to a single FAT32 drive or multple drives, then test it thoroughly for defects from the get-go, and when finished either leave as-is (losing the benefits of NTFS), or then erase and create an NTFS partition, but can't use Spinrite in the future to recover data.

Gary Goodman
July 04, 2003

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