Anyone who has used MS DOS or Windows has experienced serious difficulties. Most notably, after some time, the system slows down, and continues slowing down. Even shutting it down and rebooting will not bring the system up to the same speed it had when you first bought the computer.

The cause of the problem is Windows' continuous use of the hard disk(s). Windows constantly accesses its registry which is located on the hard disk. Windows also swaps data from the memory to the hard disk and back.

Hard disks are extremely sophisticated pieces of equipment, yet they are the one part of your computer most prone to failure. That is for two reasons:

  • They are mechanical devices with constantly moving parts, which sooner or later will fall out of alignment;
  • They store data as magnetic signals, which sooner or later weaken. If not restored properly, the signals become so weak the data can no longer be read.

Alas, Windows has no built-in mechanism for hard disk management. What's worse, it gives you the impression that it does have such management available. It comes with Defrag and ScanDisk. Alas, these two utilities do not manage the disk hardware, they only work with the file system. Defrag moves the data on the drive into a continuous chunk. ScanDisk tests if the system can read the data, and if not, it discards it as bad.

What is needed is a way to read from, and write to, the surface of the drive directly, bypassing all BIOS and DOS/Windows functionality, then fixing any problems directly in the hardware.

That is where SpinRite by Gibson Research Corporation comes in. For some strange reason, SpinRite seems to be the best kept secret of computer industry. I have met way too many computer experts who were completely unaware of its existence, despite its being the best hard disk manager for about a decade.

Or, perhaps they just deny knowing about it because SpinRite costs about as much as an hour of their time. Why should they tell you to buy a piece of software and manage your hard disk yourself instead of bringing your computer in for repair and let them run SpinRite and charge you for several hours of their time?

Yes, SpinRite can take several hours to run: It is that thorough in testing your drive, detecting problems you may not even know about, and fixing them!

SpinRite can be run on five different levels: Level 1 is quick, levels 4 and 5 are the most thorough and take a long time to complete.

Personally, I run SpinRite on level 4 once every six months, or so; on level 2 about once a month. The difference in performance of my system before and after is mind boggling.

The day after I bought SpinRite and ran it for the first time, my computer was struck by a lightning-related power surge. It fried my motherboard and many other essential hardware components that all needed to be replaced. But I did not lose a single bit of data on my hard disk. Thank goodness for SpinRite!

If you use Windows, but don't own SpinRite, you are walking on thin ice. You can get your own copy directly from the Internet at http://grc.com/spinrite.htm. You'll be happy you did!

I've been working with computers since 1977, and I had my own sideline business fixing computers for over 15 years. As a CompTia A+ certified technician, I can say that SpinRite is the absolute best hard drive diagnostic tool available. I've used it for many years, and it has brought previously deceased hard drives back to life. I am a Retro Tech - I love old computer stuff (just ask Yurei, he helped me toss literally tons of stuff out when I moved to Colorado). I have quite a few old drives, and SpinRite can go through to mark bad sectors even before the drive itself knows the sector is bad. SpinRite can do a media scan that does not harm the data already on the drive, and it writes a series of information to each sector, designed to artificially force the drive to have as many magnetic flux reversals as possible. This write/read process can find weak sectors and mark them as bad before they become data 'black holes'. As I am writing this, I am scanning a box of laptop hard drives that was given to me, and so far three of seven have been brought back from the land of the dead.

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