Current Pending Sector Count Warning: What You Need To Know
CrystalDiskInfo showing a caution warning for you drive and highlighting ID C5 Current Pending Sector Count? Here’s what you need to know about this S.M.A.R.T attribute:
What does Current Pending Sector Count mean?
Current Pending Sector Count is a S.M.A.R.T parameter that shows the current count of unstable sectors on your disk that are waiting to be remapped. If these sectors are later read successfully the count will decrease. If the drive attempts to read the data on the impacted sectors again unsuccessfully, these sectors will be reallocated to spare drive space. Once a sector is reallocated the Current Pending Sector Count will decrease, and the Reallocated Sectors Count will increase.
How Important Is A Current Pending Sector Count Warning?
Pretty serious. This is a critical S.M.A.R.T parameter and if the count increases it may indicate that a drive failure is imminent. Pending sectors are the precursor to reallocated sectors which can be a strong indicator of a dead hard drive on the horizon. You can learn more on the post I did about the reallocated sector count warning.
While a few pending sectors may not be anything to worry about if they stay at roughly the same number, or are transferred to reallocated sectors and do not drastically increase. Pending sectors turn to reallocated sectors, which re-map the data to spare sectors on the disk. As long as this number is fairly low and does not increase drastically, your hard drive may continue to function as normal.
Should I Replace My Hard Drive If It Has Pending Sectors?
Really depends on how much you value your data and how well you can handle downtime in the event of a disk failure. Personally I consider a drive with pending or reallocated sectors as a drive no longer fit for production and my uses. If I see pending or reallocated sectors climbing, I immediately purchase a new hard drive and move this drive to non-critical functions or use it for testing in other machines I own.
If you’re using this drive for a non-critical purpose and have a backup of all data on the drive (or the data isn’t very important) you can continue to use the drive until it dies. If your primary boot drive or media storage drive has pending sectors I would strongly suggest backing up any important data on the disk and replacing it as soon as possible.
Backup Your Data
This is good advice to take at all times, but if your drive is indicating an increase in pending sectors I would suggest immediately backing up any important data on the drive to another hard drive or cloud backup provider. While the drive may continue to function fine, I tend to be a bit cautious and suggest you immediately back everything up in the event that it does randomly fail.
Hard drive failures occur suddenly and the S.M.A.R.T data is there as a warning system of potential failures. Take this sign from the drive as a good time to backup data and consider your options for replacing it.
Can You Fix/Lower Your Pending Sectors Count?
It is possible that the drive misread the sector and the count may lower on it’s own after a future attempt and successful read of the sector. One of the only ways to force a drive into re-reading these pending sectors is by zero’ing the drive, meaning: wiping the drive completely and writing every sectors with zeros. You can do this in most operating systems by performing a ‘Secure Erase’ of the drive.
Please note that zero’ing the drive will destroy all data on the drive and essentially give you a fresh, blank hard drive. So do not zero your drive unless you have additional copies of your data backed up and are fine reinstalling everything onto the drive again.
After you’ve zeroed the drive you should be able to re-check the errors and see whether or not the sectors are still pending. If the pending sector count has dropped, be sure to check the reallocated sector count and ensure it has not also increased. If you reallocated sector count increases then I’d strongly suggest replacing the drive.
RMA’ing A Drive With Pending Sectors
If your drive is still under warranty from the manufacturer, or if you’re using a pre-built system from a major manufacturer that is still under warranty, you may consider RMA’ing the drive (initiating a warranty return process). You can check your current status for your hard drive through the manufacturer’s site, I’ve included a few links to popular hard drive makers’ warranty check pages below. If your vendor isn’t listed you’ll just need to do a quick Google search for <hard drive maker> + “warranty status”.
To check the warranty status of a drive you’ll need the serial number which can be found inside of CrystalDiskInfo or printed on the top of the hard drive.
Check Your Warranty Status:
- Seagate Warranty Check
- Western Digital (WD) Warranty Check
- HGST Warranty Check
- Toshiba Warranty Check
If you warranty your drive please know that you will not get the same drive or your data back. You must make a backup before you ship your drive as the manufacturer will send you a refurbished (or sometimes new – but it’s unlikely) drive from their RMA stock. This will be a completely empty drive, they will not copy over any of your data nor will they return your original drive to you if you forget to save a copy of your data. So back it up before you send it!
How To Check Your Current Pending Sectors Count
You can use the free CrystalDiskInfo software on Windows to check your current pending sector count. It can be downloaded from the CrystalMark website.
CrystalDiskInfo ID C5 Current Pending Sector Count 100
Many people tend to misread CrystalDiskInfo data on first glance. The column you want to pay attention to is the “Raw Value” column to get the actual count of pending sectors. If this is is in hexadecimal characters you can switch it to decimal by clicking on Function -> Advanced Features -> Raw Values and setting it to ’10 DEC’.
To check specific S.M.A.R.T data like the current pending sector count on a Mac you will need a third party piece of software like DriveDx ($19.99, Free Trial Available). It is a paid piece of software but the free trial time should be enough to quickly check your current pending sectors.