DTI Data Recovery is happy to announce the free full version Windows Surface Scanner. This powerful software will quickly scan your hard drive and let you know if there are any sector errors.
Hours can be saved diagnosing hard drive problems by checking the hard drive for bad sectors.
Windows Surface Scanner Version 2.20
This software will read each sector of a physical drive that is currently mounted on an XP, Vista, or Windows 7 operating system. Each sector is examined for a read error. If a read error occurs the error counter will increment.
If you have several bad sectors it would
be wise to contact a data recovery company about hard drive recovery.
Windows Surface Scanner Documentation
Windows surface scanner is a data recovery utility to help locate unreadable blocks on your hard drive and relate those blocks to certain parts of the file system.
This tool can be used to diagnose certain characteristics that may be exhibited upon boot-up or during service that are directly related to unreadable blocks on a hard drive. As an example, if a drive has an unreadable block where the Master Boot Record is located this will cause the system to hang on boot. If the drive is a secondary or slave drive the drive may also be exhibited as a raw device.
With this being said this documentation is divided into two parts. Part one will be how to use the software and how to read some rudimentary error messages. Part two will be a quick start guide for those of us who hate documentation and just want to get started.
Part One: Using Windows Surface Scanner
After you have downloaded the software from our website install it upon the system you wish to use to examine the hard drive. Do not install the software on the drive that you are having possible read errors, as this will only exacerbate the problem and may render the drive totally unusable.
Once the software is installed execute it and you should be presented with the screen exhibited in Figure 1.
The above screen is a standard disclaimer that basically says we are not responsible for any damage that may or may not be caused by using the software. In other words, use at your own risk. This is not to say that the software is dangerous or will write random data all over your active file system. It is just a ‘protection’ mechanism for the company.
If you click on the ‘I Disagree’ button then the software will exit. If, however, you decide you want to use the software the following screen will be displayed as depicted in Figure 2.
This dialog box is the main work area. All scans, updates, and reports will be generated and displayed on this screen. Let’s take a look at each of the five distinct areas of the display and describe how they all work together.
First, in the upper part of the screen just below the DTI banner you see a list box labeled ‘Physical Media List’. This list box is used for displaying all the hard drives attached to the computer.
The information extracted from the hard drive will be displayed in the four columns entitled as follows:
Bus Type: Is basically the interface that addresses the drive, such as ‘USB’, ‘SCSI’, and the most prevalent ‘ATA’.
Media Model: All drives have a model type which is usually stored on the platters. This will help you determine which drive you are scanning.
Serial Number: All drives have a unique serial number found on the outside of the casing. This information can also be used to determine which drive you are scanning.
Media Size: Displays the size of the drive in gigabytes and can also be used as a determining factor as to which drive is being scanned.
In order to populate the Physical Media List box the ‘Mount’ button must be pressed . The ‘Mount’ button is found on the right hand side of the work area at the very top. Press it now to show all the drives that are currently found on your computer.
A populated Physical Media List may look like Figure 3.
Next is the Bad Block List area which is located in the center of the work area. The bad block list is fairly self explanatory. This list will display all read errors found on the currently scanned hard drive. There are two ways to initiate a scan, first you can take the mouse and place it over the drive you want to scan. Click on the drive and then click on the Scan button. The scan will start immediately. The second way is to take the mouse and place it over the drive you wish to scan and double click. The scan will start immediately. Figure 4 displays a running scan with some unreadable errors on the scanned hard drive.
As displayed in the Bad Block List there are two errors. The first is an error that basically says the drive cannot seek to the position on the drive to read the block. The second is an error reflecting that the data residing in the block is damaged and cannot be parsed.
As you can see from the display of the Bad Block List it is divided into three areas.
Block: This is the block number at which the read error occurred.
Error: This is the error the was returned by Microsoft in standard readable text form.
Relationship: This column will explain in simple terms where the unreadable block lies in relationship to any found file systems on the drive. The relationship column is not populated until the scan has completed simply because the software does not know which file systems are located where on the drive. Once the scan is finished the artificial intelligence of the software will try and relate the unreadable block to the found file system. This relationship is depicted in Figure 5.
As you can see from Figure 5 the relationship column can be extremely important in determining what the unreadable blocks may be doing to your file system.
As an example, the first bad block was located at offset 20482875. The error indicates a seek problem, and the relationship indicates that this particular block is where a FAT32 OS Boot record would normally reside. We can then say the following: There are at least two partitions on the drive since the block number is 20482875. The first partition is probably 10 GB in size. The second partition was built using the backup FAT32 OS boot record.
This may manifest itself by a slow boot process, the second partition may not mount at all and the drive lettering scheme may be interrupted. In an active partition, even if mounted, will cause read and write delays that will affect the entire operation of the file system. All of these symptoms and many more can be expressed by a single unreadable block.
Some of the assumptions that I made were also related to the third list box in the work area. That is the status area. The status area is the last box on the bottom of the work area and contains the following columns:
Type: The type of message that is offered. As we see in Figure 5 there are two messages both of which indicate that volumes have been mounted. There may also be error, or alert messages that will further clarify the current scan.
Date: This pretty self explanatory
Time: This also self explanatory
Message: This will be tied to the type of message and can range from status, to software panic errors.
Everything of importance is displayed in this area to help make a diagnosis of the current scan. As we can see in Figure 5, the status area shows two volumes that are mounted. The message displays the beginning block of the volume as well as what file system component was used to build this particular volume.
As can be seen the first line shows an NTFS volume mounted at sector 63 using the primary OS boot record. The second line indicates that a second volume of FAT32 was mounted using the backup OS boot record. Using the information in the status area, as well as the bad block list a diagnostic picture can be built in order to determine what steps should be taken to recover the data.
There is only one area that hasn’t really been discussed and that is the scan progress area. Viewing Figure 4 we can see that the area just to the right of the bad block list gives us the progress of the current scan by displaying the time remaining, how many block errors have been discovered, and the current block being scanned. There are two other headings folders and files which will in later versions of the scanner display the total files and folders found for a certain volume.
Finally, in the far right corner of the work we see the buttons. In recap they are as follows:
Mount: Find all hard drives on the current computer and list them in the Physical Media List
Scan: Initiate a scan of the currently highlighted hard drive in the Physical Media List. The text ‘Scan’ will be changed to ‘Stop Scan’ during an active scan and can be pressed to prematurely interrupt a scan.
Report: Will print a report of the current scan. The report will reflect what is displayed in the Bad Block List.
Exit: Will exit the software as well as terminating a running scan.
So to recap the five areas in the work area of the drive:
Physical Drive List: List all drives attached to the computer.
Bad Block List: List all unreadable blocks found during the current scan and offer a file system relationship at the end of the scan
Status Area: Lists all relevant actions during a scan
Progress Area: Lists time remaining, current block, and block read errors. There is a progress bar, and percentage of completion displayed just above this area.
Function Area: Shows all buttons and their current function within the software.
Quick Start Guide
Using the ‘Mount’ button find all Physical drives attached to the current PC.
Using the ‘Scan’ button initiate a scan of the currently highlighted drive.
Evaluate the Bad Block List to help determine where the bad blocks are and how they affect the file system.
At anytime if you wish to terminate the scan click on the ‘Exit’ button and the
software will stop.
Physical Media List Columns:
BusType: The interface that talks to the drive such as standard ATA, SCSI
Media Model: If available, the model of the storage device.
Serial Number: If available the serial number of the device.
Media Size: The size of the storage device in gigabytes.
This information is for you to distinguish between physical devices on
your system so that you are fairly sure that you are scanning the correct