I’ve been where you are. You’ve just opened up CrystalDiskInfo and it’s showing an amber Caution warning next to one of your hard drives, now what do you do? Is your hard drive about to crash? Do you need to replace your hard drive right away? Are things really that bad/can I keep using the drive?
Before we dig into what each S.M.A.R.T data point means, I need to address a common error I’ve seen online:
It’s unlikely that you have 100 reallocated/pending/uncorrectable sectors, you’re probably just looking at the wrong column in CrystalDiskInfo. You don’t want to be looking at the ‘Current’ or ‘Worst’ columns, you only want to pay attention to the ‘Raw Values’ column.
The ‘Raw Values’ column is the actual number of errors that your drive is detecting for that S.M.A.R.T attribute. It can sometime show by default as a hexadecimal value (letters and numbers) and that’s not very helpful unless you can convert Hex to Decimals in your head, if you’re not a robot then you can change this by going to:
Function -> Advanced Features -> Raw Values inside of CrystalDiskInfo and setting it to ’10 DEC’ to get a decimal output for the Raw Values column. This will give you the actual number of each column instead of gibberish only robots can read by memory.
Common CrystalDiskInfo Data Points That Should Give You ‘Caution’
There are 3 common errors that will set off CrystalDiskInfo to issue a warning about your hard drive’s health, so let’s jump into these and figure out exactly what each one means.
CrystalDiskInfo C5 – Current Pending Sector Count
A number greater than 0 in the C5 – Current Pending Sector Count column will cause CrystalDiskInfo to set off a Caution warning. Your Current Pending Sector Count is a warning about unstable sectors on your drive that are waiting to be remapped (reallocated) to spare space on the drive.
Basically, your hard drive had trouble reading a sector of the drive and it is considering remapping the sector to one of the spare sectors. The pending sector count can go up/down depending on whether or not the drive can later successfully read data from the sector, or if the sector is bad it will become a reallocated sector (ID 05) and the pending count will decrease but the reallocated count will go up.
Pending sectors are a warning sign that your drive may experience some problems or failure. The main way to determine whether or not your drive is likely to fail is how quickly this count increases. If your count is fairly low (say <20) and after continuing to use the drive, rebooting the system, etc the count stays the exact same, your drive may be okay. However, if your pending sector count increases you should immediately replace the drive to prevent data loss.
CrystalDiskInfo 05 – Reallocated Sector(s) Count
A number greater than 0 in the 05 – Reallocated Sectors Count line will set off CrystalDiskInfo’s warning system and throw a caution. Reallocated Sectors count is the total number of sectors on your hard drive that have been reallocated to spare sectors (this is a spare area on your disk that’s there in the case a sector on the main part of the disk is bad).
Essentially, your hard drive has encountered an error reading, writing or verifying data on one of the sectors on the disk and has reallocated the data from that sector to a spare sector (spare space) on the disk.
Reallocated sectors are a warning sign that your disk may be dying if the number is very high or if it increases rapidly. If you have 1, 2 or even 20 reallocated sectors on your drive it may not be a cause for panic, as many hard drives can last for years with only a few bad sectors being reallocated. But you have to watch this number very closely, because if it increases over time it’s likely that the disk is dying. Reallocated sectors tend to jump quite drastically from 1 to 20 to 200 to thousands if a disk is bad. Be sure to check you drive after each reboot or when you add more data to it to see if this count has changed.
This is a critical error for hard drives and if your data is important it’s suggested that you replace your hard drive immediately.
CrystalDiskInfo C6 – Uncorrectable Sector Count
A number greater than 0 in the C6 – Uncorrectable Sector Count line will set off CrystalDiskInfo’s ‘Caution’ warning. Uncorrectable sectors are exactly what they say they are, sectors of your disk that the hard drive is sensing have uncorrectable errors when trying to read/write to these sectors.
Essentially you’ve got bad parts (sectors) of your disk that the system cannot correct by reallocating to unused space. This is a critical error and I would suggest replacing your hard drive if these are corrected.
Like Reallocated and Pending sectors, if this count does not drastically increase over time it may be okay to keep using the drive. However, it is advisable to replace the hard drive if your data is important to you and to only continue using the drive for non-critical data storage. You should backup any data on the drive immediately if you do not already have a recent backup.
CrystalDiskInfo Caution: Is My Drive Going To Die?
If your drive is showing a ‘Caution’ or ‘Bad’ health warning, it’s not always an immediate indicator of a drive that’s going to die. There have been many drives showing ‘Caution’ or ‘Bad’ health warnings that have gone on to live for many years, and drives that showed ‘Good’ warnings that died an hour later. You should always have a recent backup of your data, and if you do get a warning you should take it as a sign to ensure you’ve got an even more recent backup.
The main indicator of a slowly failing drive is a large number of these errors and/or a large increase in these errors in a short period of time. If you want to continue using a drive with these errors you need to closely monitor the drive’s health daily and make sure there are no drastic increases in the counts of the ‘Raw Values’ column.
CrystalDiskInfo Caution: Should I Replace My Hard Drive?
When to replace your drive is a decision only you can make based on the data available to you and your current financial situation. If you do not already have a backup strategy, you should implement one immediately – and if you can afford to replace the drive, I’d recommend that you do so.
If you’d like a second opinion on whether or not you should replace your drive, feel free to leave a comment below with a screenshot of your CrystalDiskInfo output and I’d be happy to take a look.