• Welcome to Overclockers Forums! Join us to reply in threads, receive reduced ads, and to customize your site experience!

[Backup]-HDD health, formating and disc errors

Overclockers is supported by our readers. When you click a link to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn More.


Dec 26, 2019
There is a lot of stuff written on the Net, as usual. However, i think, most of the content is outdated or even hinting to some wrong directions. This will start from Fat32 which is basically a legacy replaced by exFat and may end with recommendations regarding "full HDD formatting".

Now, as far as i know, nowadays the new Win 10 OS will automatically check a drive for errors and keep track of it, without the use of a external tool (not even a internal one).

And, for the newer drives i guess it will even keep a own record for its errors, basically "on the fly", as soon as data is written or read. New drives are pretty complex with many internal technology, which can not be compared with the old stuff many years ago. It will need lesser handling of those matters, by the user, than ever before. To some extend, it can even become overkill checking and using tools, because it will just cause unnecessary "interception" on a process already done by the drive or OS itself.

I think, it`s more a matter of believe than with any true evidence. Many software-companys want us to believe "you really need this tool else your doomed and what else..." but in most cases this is just marketing, not much more. Most likely, the individual luck on any drive is playing a more important role than any of the "checkings" a user could do. They say "use this and that" but ultimately it just doesn`t matter. With bad luck, any of the drive i use can instantly be burned and not any tool was ever detecting it in advance. On the other hand, maybe a drive just last forever and some tool may find it suspicious, but it`s working fine.

What i usually do is just to check the integrity of the files. For example my Anime-Movies got a own "hash-number" which can be read and pretty accurately tell me if there is some bits lost". As for my games, i usually use GoG-Games, they pretty much make the same automatically, using a redundancy check, thats it. Steam can do the same using a acccount-tool. Ultimately as long as the data is not corrupted it`s safe to say a drive is working proper. Most of the other evidence is not truly something i put much trust on. Over time there can be some bad sectors, just because of age: Works the same as before, i check redundancy and if a file is bad on a drive, i still have the same backup on another drive in order to restore.

I`m not even sure if it matters making a "full format" for a new drive that already is preformated by the manufacturer, it should be checked for errors already. Maybe not even a fresh (not preformated) drive may need a full formatting.

So, still, in order to feel more safe i am now reformatting one of the huge 10 TB drive into NTFS format and even using a "full reformat", just because maybe "it helps"... however, i am absolutely not sure and it takes a huge amount of time on such a huge drivem maybe 12 hours in a row, as it will have to check every single bit on this drive.

Some sources are telling me, NTFS is much more supreme compared to exFat because it got file-journaling, which will help the drive recovering the files in term of power or any other data failure. On the other hand, usually there is many files and in term of a failure usually the file currently written on the drive will become corrupt, but usually not any other parts. In rare cases it may destroy the file-system of a drive, if so... the data could be doomed because the drive will be unable to access to. I dunno if NTFS is so much better handling it, in term of such a "system loss"... ultimately, it should simply never happen. I guess there is some other "protection mechanism" in term of failure, for example some HDDs got a internal NAND, which is not volatile and may store some cached data, even at time of power failure due to different circumstances. I` m just not sure because the technology nowadays from many manufacturers has turned to a state incredibly complex.

To me, im pretty unsure... exFat got the advantage for being readable by as good as any device out there, and NTFS could be more secure. However, if the drive truly fails, nothing will be able to secure the data. Best deal is to have another full backup in such a case, instead of putting to much trust into "supreme file system solutions":

So, as i can not truly decide and got a full backup on 2 separated drives, i simply made one drive with exFat and the other drive with NTFS, this way, there is close to no device unable to read the data and in term of a drive failure, it doesn`t matter which drive was failing. Truly not sure if this is "the holy grail" because to me... either the drive is running properly or ... if not... it need to be replaced, software can not truly help. Small failures should be detected automatically, as i already told. I will always notice a heavy failure... this is not a matter that need to be checked.

Recently i was able to retrieve old data, with over 3 TB size, from a almost 10 year old QNAP-NAS-device. It took me a lot of "sh...." and some difficult "figuring out" on how to make this NAS run once again, and to gain access to those files, but ultimately i suceeded and the NAS including almost 10 year old HDDs was working properly... so all the files are restored. So, if people say "a HDD will live about 5 years", i think, if a drive is not abused or misused even twice the amount should still work fine. I think, it`s very individual if a drive is failing or not, there is no "exact number" able to set a rule.

Finally, i just wonder, how are other people handling it (file system, way to format, how many years for disc life, what kind of check is actually useful nowadays) or maybe someone else got some good ideas or hints related to those matters. If so... any improvement i can achieve might be useful. Usually i rather want to be minimalistic, not doing anything that is not necessary and rather trust on a manual management.
Holy wall of text! :p

I don't see any reason not to use NTFS for your internal storage/Windows drives.

Yes, drive failures are, generally, random

As far how I handle things... all M.2 and SATA based drives for the system are NTFS. I have a USB stick FAT32 (mobos tend to recognize/use this). As far as disc life, I don't worry about it until they start to fail. That's why you should have a robust backup and restore plan for your data and OS. I just let Windows do windows on my drives. I've got a decade old 640GB WD Caviar Black that was an OS drive for years that's now cold(ish) storage. Some had HDDs die within it's warranty period... as I said, that varies, no number or rule. Any apps that read SMART data are useful in tracking down issues.
No, both drives are external backup drives https://www.apple.com/ch-de/shop/pr...e-festplatte-g-technology-g-drive-usb‑c-10-tb , but they are very huge at 10 TB because i need this size for backup; i only got 3.17 TB left and even used a small 4 KiB size format in order to save space. To me, the size matters a lot but it have to be affordable... bigger drives cost even more... just hard to afford, and i want to use 2 drives (so i have 2 backups of the same data).

As for internal drives or OS drive... of course, i always use NTFS... common sense, because this is the file system Windows can initially handle best, same for HSF on a Mac. Windows or Mac will not even allow it to use any other file system for the OS drive.

It doesn`t matter in a internal system because those data will have to be handed over either by network... or a exFat external drive... (the sort i am talking about).

Samsung, on its own 5 TB external drives, are using exFAT initially. Of course for Mac or Windows usually the manufacturer is using the native file system, some manufactures use exFat even.
Holy wall of text! :p
I've got a decade old 640GB WD Caviar Black that was an OS drive for years that's now cold(ish) storage.
I dunno what you store there, for me this is far to less space, even my small T5 SSD may have more space than this.

Holy wall of text! :p
Any apps that read SMART data are useful in tracking down issues.
Crystal Disc can handle this task, but SMART data may not necessarely show all the errors. Guess, nothing i missed so far.
As far how I hanI have a USB stick FAT32 (mobos tend to recognize/use this).
OK cool... although i believe we life in 2 different worlds: You are inside the "tuner world" and i am inside the "media world". I pretty much use my stuff as a data-center for media of all kind with huge space demand.

Still interesting, just doesn`t really matter, a minor USB or other Nand-Card for a special purpose.
I'm not sure how thorough a job Windows 10 does in checking disk health and file integrity. On a number of occasions I have had Windows 10 tell me that the disk "has errors and needs fixing." But whatever Windows 10 does to correct these problems it doesn't take very long at all. I'm not sure exactly what repair process it is doing. It certainly is not sfc /scannow or chkdsk as it is too quick for either of these.
i think it just depends on luck and the individual correction-mechanism of the drive. So, indeed some people are cracking their head trying to do stuff right... but it just does not matter. Way more critical having several backups, and disconnecting them, this is certain.