I'm often replacing user's hard drives (in Mac laptops, in my environment), and was wondering: how likely is the problem to be physical, and how likely is it to be logical?
I typically assume that the problem is physical, and that, if I were to reformat the drive and put it back into use, it will fail again, causing problems.
How can I tell if the problem is physical or logical? Is there an appropriate assumption to make? [On the Mac, I do run Disk Utility; on ocassion, it will show logical errors, but typically it will say the hard drive is okay, even if it is running very slowly and will not let me copy files off of it.]
Update: For my purposes:
- a physical problem is when data can not be read from the drive or when the data read back differs from the data most recently written to the disk; the hard drive platter (or controller) no longer works
- a logical problem is when a file or file system structure is written improperly; when data on the drive is corrupt--possibly due to power loss or a process modifying a file being terminated prematurely. While the drive itself is good, the files do not load up right, or the meta-data describing where the files are stored is not consistent.
By way of analogy,
- a book with a physical problem has pages that are torn out, ripped, are wet or rotten or bitten, or came out of a printer that was running out of ink. It is anyone's guess if you can read something meaningful off the page.
- a book with logical problems may have grammatical problems, poor sentence structure, or even just strings of random gibberish. You can read it just fine, but it doesn't make any sense.
In my mind, the differences is that a logical problem will go away with a reformat, but a physical problem persists.