Finding the Bad Files

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    To obtain direct, low-level access to a system's mass storage drives, SpinRite runs under a GRC-customized version of FreeDOS which has been modified to add compatibility with all file systems. In order to run SpinRite it must first be possible to boot FreeDOS.

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New member
Feb 9, 2024
I've been using SpinRite for many years in a casual way, mostly for maintenance. Luckily I've never encountered any serious hard drive problems. Recently a friend's drive started having suspicious symptoms and I offered to try SpinRite v6.1 on it, which lead me to wonder: what if SpinRite does find some bad sectors, how would I go about verifying that the files involved were actually recovered, or if SpinRite indicated that some sectors were unrecoverable, how do I figure out which files were involved?

Obviously there are lots of different file systems and lots of different platforms so locating the files are probably highly specific to the FS and OS. How might one do that manually on FAT32 in Windows for example?

In the future, how feasible would it be for SpinRite export a "map file" of all the bad sectors, and then little apps could be written for popular platforms to help locate those bad files using the map file?

I'd envision a little Windows app for example that could take a list of bad sectors (and even the repaired ones in order to double check them) and do what it takes to get a list of files that correspond to those sectors.
Back when the world was simpler and all we had was FAT12 and FAT16, SpinRite was fully able to do all of that. It would report which file had trouble and where (by offset from the front) the trouble was. Over the years, as we know, things got more complicated.

If there was no alternative to remaining with DOS, I could have continued to "grow" SpinRite to incorporate knowledge of all of the newer file systems. But the BIOS upon which DOS (and thus SpinRite) depends has (technically) already become obsolete, being replaced by UEFI. So it no longer made any sense for me to continue to invest heavily in anything that would forever be stuck on DOS. I needed to fulfill the commitment I had made many year earlier to upgrade v6.0 to v6.1. But it didn't make any sense to go too far beyond that. (I ended up giving v6.1 a bunch of new goodies anyway, but that always happens.)

What I've been telling the gang in the newsgroup, who have helped me get to this point, is that now my entire goal is to obsolete SpinRite v6.1 as quickly as possible. I will be immediately moving to work on SR7, which will be built on another OS that can boot on either the BIOS or UEFI, and once we have the minimal functionality up and running, adding "filesystem awareness" is at the top of the list for SR7's future.

So, yes, as soon as I can, SpinRite will be indicating which files had trouble... And much more!