Return to

Dell inspiron 530 restoration - help please


I’m stumped. I have an old SEAGATE 1 TB mechanical drive with one bad cluster on it. After partitioning around the bad sector I installed a copy of a Dell Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit o/s. It boots and runs fine except for one small problem — that annoying SMART warning. Now this hard drive works fine. It doesn’t click, it doesn’t hang. It runs smooth and would be perfect if it were not of this one single cluster. I wish there were some way of isolating this from SMART but if that isn’t an option I’m willing to disable SMART altogether given that this is only a secondary “throw together” unit for keeping a spare PC.

The BIOS is old. I don’t have UEFI options. To the best of my knowledge there is no place to disable SMART in the BIOS. Any practical suggestions outside of replacing the hard drive with a new mechanical hard drive would be appreciated. Thanks.



Can you connect it to another computer and see if it registers a SMART warning on that? It may be helpful to know if the issue is on the disk or is with the laptop itself.

If it is the disk then maybe you can update the bios on that and see if that resolves a false positive. If not then you can try running something like hdd regenerator or some other software to repair it.



A drive that only has one bad sector should be able to remap it from its reserved sectors. Modern drives typically have a few sectors reserved for exactly this situation. The drive’s firmware will seamlessly redirect LBA calls for that sector to a reserved sector. This slows the drive down a bit, but allows for a relatively smooth recovery from bad sectors.

Things get interesting when the drive runs out of reserved sectors. I suspect this may be what’s going on with your Seagate drive. In other words, you may have many bad sectors that have been remapped, but you are now out of reserved sectors. That situation may trip a SMART warning, where a sector that was reallocated probably wouldn’t.

If you can get a tool that checks the drive for SMART info (Crystal Disk Info comes to mind) and post a screenshot of what it finds that might tell us what’s going on.



Use Seatools to find out what is really going on with this drive:




I’ve done those things you mentioned but perhaps in re-partitioning the drive I may have generated another issue. I did notice when I put it in the Sabrent toaster I no longer get a warning message – at least not immediately. Perhaps if I only ran it as an external data drive It might prove itself worth the effort to keep.



Now that is something I neglected to consider. Thank you. Yes. I have crystal disk. I’ve never used Crystal Disk to make repairs and I’m not sure that is possible. Josh has made a suggestion I’ll look into. At any rate it looks as though I will need to migrate the o/s to a different drive and at best use the 1TB drive for storage.



Thanks JD. I’ve already ran diagnostics on the drive. Seems a shame to have to toss it because of one bad cluster. But as imrazor pointed out there could be more bad clusters that simply aren’t showing in the diagnostics. What I was hoping for was a cheap “quick fix” so that I wouldn’t have to press F1 on the keyboard every time I had to reboot. The warnings are annoying and aside from those the drive is fully functional and the system works. If only there were a way to disable S.M.A.R.T in the BIOS. Alas, this does not appear to be an option on this PC.



Crystal Disk Info does not allow you to make repairs. It just provides a raw dump of SMART diagnostic values. It will give you a caution warning if it considers a drive failed or suspect. At this point I was just interested in gathering information rather than a repair.

Depending on how much your time is worth to you, it may be a better investment of resources to just buy a new drive. 1TB drives are pretty cheap these days. OTOH, I see Inspiron 530’s on ebay going for only a little bit more than a brand new drive.

1 Like


Yup. In USA they go pretty cheap. For me, the shipping almost costs what I would pay for the unit. This is just a junker/burner standby PC. I was really hoping someone knew how to disable the S.M.A.R.T. in the old Dell IDE BIOS as I have tried to do this via administrator permissions in the system files but to no avail. By partitioning the drive I was also hoping to put Linux Mint on the other partition but I’m probably best off just tossing in an SSD Instead.

1 Like


Sometimes inexpensive is a double edged sword and is risky on drives. I wouldn’t keep any data you value on a drive with S.M.A.R.T. alerts and I would make sure to keep a backup of anything important on there if you do use it.



Thanks for the advice, Josh. It was a fresh install so there’s not much in the way of personal data to lose. It’s in RAID 1 because that is the only way that I can get AHCI on this old Dell legacy BIOS. HD 0 runs fine. Both drives are 320 Gb WD Caviar blacks. HD1 keeps reporting the SMART error but surface scan reveals no bad clusters. Not sure what the issue is but not worth buying a brand new hard drive to fix it. In this case disabling SMART would suit my purposes but evidently it can’t be done in this legacy BIOS. My two choices are IDE or RAID. A slight “work around” may be just eliminating the drive altogether and using it on a different card. I noticed in this regard the drive functions fine without the annoying warning when booting. In so doing I compromise RAID 1 but I suppose it can wait until I find a better dumpster diver “quality” hard drive to format and mirror. I tossed in an old Kingston SSD for a main O/S and put the klunk drives on secondary so now it’s running dual boot in RAID 1. I’m thinking of making the secondary my backup drive so my backup will be mirrored. When I put personal data on it I’ll just make a drive image to be safe. This is definitely not my main PC.



UPDATE Matter solved. Got a cheap ten dollar SATA card on Ebay (brand new) that doesn’t use SMART. I can back up to the drive and run it like there was never a problem. Partitioned around the bad sector and all is well. She’s got plenty of room for backups and archives now and tossing in an old NVIDIA graphics card really picked it up. The old girl shows in Disk Management and reads that it is healthy. No more annoying warnings, no more annoying alarms. The seven year old loves it.