[Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

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[Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

Jon Forrest
Several months ago I asked Micronet for options of
the SpinRite product. I didn't receive any general
consensus so I decided to take a change and buy
a copy. What follows is a report of my experiences.

--
Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

I bought SpinRite with some trepidation. First of all, the latest
version was first released in 2004 - more than 6 years ago. A lot has
happened in the last 6 years. SpinRite also has a checkered reputation,
some even calling it “snake oil”. In the early version of SpinRite this
reputation was clearly unwarranted because SpinRite was the only product
that could non-destructively change the interleave factor of a disk
drive. These days most people don’t even know what an interleave factor
is, and most (all?) drives don’t even have an interleave factor, so this
ability is of no use anymore.

However, I was looking for a product that can analyze my rapidly growing
pile of disk drives that are in questionable condition. I want to know
which drives are still usable, and which drives could be made usable.
SpinRite is the only product I’m aware of that claims to be able to do
this. So, knowing that SpinRite has a 30-day guarantee I decided to take
my chances.

In summary, I was very disappointed. SpinRite is uncontrollable and
incomprehensible. I have no idea if it does what it claims because most
of the time it would have taken weeks or months for SpinRite to finish
working on a drive. Most of the time SpinRite didn’t obey the simple
commands I gave it so it was very frustrating to work with. Even when I
got it to do what I wanted, I was often puzzled by the various
statistics it displayed. I was left not trusting what I saw. I’m
planning on asking for a refund.

What follows are the notes I made while running SpinRite on various SATA
drives. In all cases I used a Dell Optiplex GX280 with the A08 BIOS,
which is the latest BIOS for this system. These notes are not in order
of importance.

1) "Push spacebar to select another screen to view" only works rarely.
Most of the time it doesn't do anything. This makes it very difficult to
monitor what SpinRite is doing.

2) When #1 did work, using the arrow keys or number keys would sometime
work, and sometimes make the display choice window close. There seemed
to be no rhyme or reason for what the arrow and number keys did.

3) The Detailed Technical Log says in the "dma channel:" area "no, fast
PIO mode". Why isn't dma being used? The computer can do it when running
Windows.

4) I left SpinRite running doing level 4 check on a 500GB drive over the
weekend. When I came in on Monday, all I saw on the screen was a window
saying "SpinRite has completed its work with this system ...". I saw no
sign of any problems that were detected or repaired. There should have
been some way of seeing a status report of the work done by SpinRite.

5) When selecting Drives and Partitions, there is sometimes a ~5 second
delay between the time you press space and when the partition shows up
as selected. This didn't happen with every disk.

6) It takes several minutes for the "Selecting Drive For Use ..." window
to go away and for the test to start. What is going on during this time?
Again, this didn’t happen with every disk.

7) When the "Select Screen to View ..." windows comes up, it doesn't
always go away after a choice is made.

9) There should be a way to tell SpinRite that I don't care what's on
the disk so it make a destructive pass through the disk to find hard errors.

10) Sometimes I'm watching the "Graphic Status Display" but then the
display switches over to the DynaStat data recovery display without me
doing anything.

11) When I tried to look at the SMART System Monitor I received a
message saying that SpinRite doesn't have access to SMART data published
by the current physical drive. I know this isn't true because I just
took the drive out of another system that was able to display SMART data
for the drive. In fact, the drive had 189 relocated sectors, which is
why I took it out.

12) I've been stuck in the DynaStat Data Recover window for over a day
now. I try typing the space bar to go to another window but nothing
happens. If there were some way of knowing what's going on I might not
feel so bad. But, all I see are the moving rectangles in the top right,
the "Initiating DynaStat Recovery System" blinking, and the bit counts
changing value. The cylinder, sector, and head numbers change every so
often, which is to be expected. However, the "data samples", "first
uncertain bit", "last uncertain bit", and "uncertain bit span" don't
have any numbers next to them. The "unique samples" and the "discarded
samples" numbers show 0. None of these has changed since I started
running the program. Nor has the straight line through the center of the
main window. I'm about to go away for 5 days. It will be interesting to
see what's on the screen when I return.

13) I'm back. I notice that the display on the bottom left of the screen
says cylinder 13, sector 14, and head 245. I didn't know that disks
these days have 245 heads!

14) I suspect that the disk I've been running SpinRite on for 5 days is
unrecoverable. That's fine, but SpinRite should have suggested this
possibility and given me a choice of what I wanted to do next.

15) After running for ~3 hours, the status report on the screen saver
says the Time Elapsed is 0 hrs and 0 min.

16) In the DynaStat Data Recovery window, there's a section that has
three values, data samples, unique samples, and discarded samples.
What's strange is the the sum of unique samples plus discarded samples
does not equal data samples. Where did the other samples go? I'm seeing
the total off by 2.

17) In the DynaStat Data Recovery window, I see those waveform-like
shapes. However, the only thing that seems to be happening is that every
~8 seconds the number of data samples goes up. But, the bit counters on
each side of the screen aren't changing and neither the first and last
uncertain bit counters. I have no idea what's going on.

18) I'm running a level 2 check on a 400GB SATA drive. When I left last
night, I was at 0% complete. Now, ~14 hours later it’s still at 0% complete.

19) I'm looking at the Graphic Status Display window. Near the bottom
there's a "sector status key" section that shows the various characters
that appear as the sectors are analyzed. However, the character I'm
seeing is the '?' character, which doesn't appear in the sector status
key section.

Cordially,
--
Jon Forrest
Research Computing Support
College of Chemistry
173 Tan Hall
University of California Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
94720-1460
510-643-1032
[hidden email]


 
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

JediGhost
Dear Jon, I've been a Spinrite user for about 10 years, ran it on multiple machines and drives. 90% of your complaints are coming from not knowing what spinrite is really doing and how it works, 10% is because of the specfic system you are using (Dell).

On some systems the Spinrite user interface is really slow, making it a pain to use. Set the ATA mode in the BIOS to IDE, not AHCI, this helps in general.

When the interface is slow 2 things are happening: the machine's BIOS is improperly setup or just not really compatible with Spinrite, OR Dynastat Data Recovery is happening, that really occupies the system, Spinrite will react very slowly to any buttons you press. Also I did see Spinrite get stuck in a loop, or freeze occasionally, but it's rare (this was always in Dynastat mode). Often I put the to-be-repaired HDD into a system where I know Spinrite runs just fine, and do the whole process there.

Space, cursor buttons work just fine for me.

SMART data accessability is determined by the BIOS, so no wonder on some machines you see it, on some you don't, although it's the same drive.

Disks may have 245 heads, of course they are not physical.

DMA is not desirable when you do data recovery.

Etc.

My guess based on my extensive experience: your system is not working well with spinrite. I've seen this before. If the Spinrite menus have a lot of lag, something is off, set IDE mode in the BIOS, and if that does not help, change the HDD to another sytem, where spinrite runs fast, as it has a superquick user interface normally. Enable IDE and SMART in the BIOS if you can.

If the drive is in really bad shape, things can take a LONG time. Spinrite can even get stuck helplessly. That drive is doomed usually. You can do this: you can repartition the HDD to make sure the bad areas are not within partitions (I call this out-partitioning the bad sectors).

OR: you can use HDDRegenerator which is much faster than Spinrite, but does not make a lot effort to save the content of bad sectors, quickly finds them and eliminates them, making the drive usable again.

Please understand: Spinrite's Dynastat is slow (not the user interface!) because it does every imaginable effort to save the data contained in bad sectors. Sometimes it reads them 2000 times to determine what the content might have been. That can take hours, and it is just one sector, 4096 bits of data (512 Kbyte)!

If you Spinrite is slow because of a system "incompatibility" or wrong BIOS settings, the above process takes unnecessarily longer, hours become days, days became weeks, and the user - understandibly - gets frustrated.

I personally use a combination of HDDRegenerator and Spinrite, because not every bit of data is so important, and HDDReg can make a quick fix, Spinrite can verify everything is okay afterwards (all sectors are readable, writeable). If your data is crucial, SPinrite has to do all the work, and that can take very long. But it DOES save everything that can be saved.
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

Jon Forrest-3
I doubt that anyone cares at this point, but here's the
reply I sent to this guy:

---------

On 3/8/2013 12:54 AM, JediGhost wrote:
 > Dear Jon, I've been a Spinrite user for about 10 years, ran it on
multiple
 > machines and drives. 90% of your complaints are coming from not
knowing what
 > spinrite is really doing and how it works, 10% is because of the specfic
 > system you are using (Dell).

I'm glad you took the time to send your thoughtful response. I disagree
with the 90% comment, of course.

 > On some systems the Spinrite user interface is really slow, making it
a pain
 > to use. Set the ATA mode in the BIOS to IDE, not AHCI, this helps in
 > general.

Although I don't recall if this Dell had the IDE/AHCI option (I suspect
it didn't since it was pretty old), what you describe sure sounds
to me like a defect in the product. If there are any detectable
configuration requirements that could make Spinrite misbehave
in any way, then Spinrite should either display a message saying
that the undesirable setting was detected and ask you to change it,
or not run at all.

The computer I ran Spinrite on was a very standard vanilla Dell Optiplex
with the latest version at the time of Dell's BIOS. Dell probably sold
millions of these. The chances that any of my problems with SpinRite
were caused by a misconfigured BIOS are very small. The system worked
perfectly with good disk drives. I stand by my diagnosis that SpinRite
has flaws that showed up when I used it on several questionable disks.

 > When the interface is slow 2 things are happening: the machine's BIOS is
 > improperly setup or just not really compatible with Spinrite, OR Dynastat
 > Data Recovery is happening, that really occupies the system, Spinrite
will
 > react very slowly to any buttons you press. Also I did see Spinrite get
 > stuck in a loop, or freeze occasionally, but it's rare (this was
always in
 > Dynastat mode). Often I put the to-be-repaired HDD into a system where I
 > know Spinrite runs just fine, and do the whole process there.

Steve Gibson is fond of inventing new terms. Dynastat is another one
of these. His web page says "If several thousand sector re-reads all
fail to produce a single perfect reading, SpinRite next employs the
database it has been building from each failed sector reading. By
performing a statistical analysis of this data, SpinRite is frequently
able to reconstruct all of the sector's data, even though no single
reading was perfect". I don't see any reason why this process
should cause a slow user interface. People have been writing
multi-threaded and quasi-multi-threaded programs for years that
deal with this kind of situation.

 > Space, cursor buttons work just fine for me.

What I described was 100% reproducible.

 > SMART data accessability is determined by the BIOS, so no wonder on some
 > machines you see it, on some you don't, although it's the same drive.

I don't think "SMART data accessability is determined by the BIOS".
After all, Linux can access SMART data just fine and it doesn't
use the BIOS at all after booting.

 > Disks may have 245 heads, of course they are not physical.

I've never heard of non-physical heads.

 > DMA is not desirable when you do data recovery.

Why?

 > Etc.
 >
 > My guess based on my extensive experience: your system is not working
well
 > with spinrite. I've seen this before.

I agree 100%. Since SpinRite offers a 100% money back guarantee, I
decided to exercise this option. To their credit, they did refund
my money so I have no beef with them.

 > If the Spinrite menus have a lot of
 > lag, something is off, set IDE mode in the BIOS, and if that does not
help,
 > change the HDD to another sytem, where spinrite runs fast, as it has a
 > superquick user interface normally. Enable IDE and SMART in the BIOS
if you
 > can.

These are the kinds of things I might do with a free program.
They're unacceptable with a commercial program.

 > If the drive is in really bad shape, things can take a LONG time.
Spinrite
 > can even get stuck helplessly. That drive is doomed usually. You can do
 > this: you can repartition the HDD to make sure the bad areas are not
within
 > partitions (I call this out-partitioning the bad sectors).

These are all possible but I bought SpinRite so I wouldn't have
to do them. SpinRite didn't just take a long time - it just hung
all together.

 > OR: you can use HDDRegenerator which is much faster than Spinrite,
but does
 > not make a lot effort to save the content of bad sectors, quickly
finds them
 > and eliminates them, making the drive usable again.

I've never heard of HDDRegenerator. I'm not sure if it was available
when I evaluated SpinRite. But, ever if it were, having to buy
another program isn't a big recommendation for SpinRite.

 > I personally use a combination of HDDRegenerator and Spinrite,
because not
 > every bit of data is so important, and HDDReg can make a quick fix,
Spinrite
 > can verify everything is okay afterwards (all sectors are readable,
 > writeable). If your data is crucial, SPinrite has to do all the work, and
 > that can take very long. But it DOES save everything that can be saved.

I didn't purposefully try to find a machine with an incompatible BIOS
or abnormally bad disks. I just picked the first machine I laid my
hands on. SpinRite failed on them. I respectfully stand by everything
I said in my review.

As you read people's comments about SpinRite, I'm not alone. Most
people didn't write as objective a review as I did, but it's
clear that SpinRite is not without issues. But, since GRC is
so good about refunding money, it's not a big deal.

Cordially,
Jon Forrest




 
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

auto004
In reply to this post by Jon Forrest
I don't know about anyone else, but that message you responded to looks like astroturffing.  I don't know if I'd trust some random unknown software on some Russian site.


On 3/8/13 8:47 AM, Jon Forrest wrote:
I doubt that anyone cares at this point, but here's the
reply I sent to this guy:

---------

On 3/8/2013 12:54 AM, JediGhost wrote:
 > Dear Jon, I've been a Spinrite user for about 10 years, ran it on 
multiple
 > machines and drives. 90% of your complaints are coming from not 
knowing what
 > spinrite is really doing and how it works, 10% is because of the specfic
 > system you are using (Dell).

I'm glad you took the time to send your thoughtful response. I disagree
with the 90% comment, of course.

 > On some systems the Spinrite user interface is really slow, making it 
a pain
 > to use. Set the ATA mode in the BIOS to IDE, not AHCI, this helps in
 > general.

Although I don't recall if this Dell had the IDE/AHCI option (I suspect
it didn't since it was pretty old), what you describe sure sounds
to me like a defect in the product. If there are any detectable
configuration requirements that could make Spinrite misbehave
in any way, then Spinrite should either display a message saying
that the undesirable setting was detected and ask you to change it,
or not run at all.

The computer I ran Spinrite on was a very standard vanilla Dell Optiplex
with the latest version at the time of Dell's BIOS. Dell probably sold
millions of these. The chances that any of my problems with SpinRite
were caused by a misconfigured BIOS are very small. The system worked
perfectly with good disk drives. I stand by my diagnosis that SpinRite
has flaws that showed up when I used it on several questionable disks.

 > When the interface is slow 2 things are happening: the machine's BIOS is
 > improperly setup or just not really compatible with Spinrite, OR Dynastat
 > Data Recovery is happening, that really occupies the system, Spinrite 
will
 > react very slowly to any buttons you press. Also I did see Spinrite get
 > stuck in a loop, or freeze occasionally, but it's rare (this was 
always in
 > Dynastat mode). Often I put the to-be-repaired HDD into a system where I
 > know Spinrite runs just fine, and do the whole process there.

Steve Gibson is fond of inventing new terms. Dynastat is another one
of these. His web page says "If several thousand sector re-reads all
fail to produce a single perfect reading, SpinRite next employs the
database it has been building from each failed sector reading. By
performing a statistical analysis of this data, SpinRite is frequently
able to reconstruct all of the sector's data, even though no single
reading was perfect". I don't see any reason why this process
should cause a slow user interface. People have been writing
multi-threaded and quasi-multi-threaded programs for years that
deal with this kind of situation.

 > Space, cursor buttons work just fine for me.

What I described was 100% reproducible.

 > SMART data accessability is determined by the BIOS, so no wonder on some
 > machines you see it, on some you don't, although it's the same drive.

I don't think "SMART data accessability is determined by the BIOS".
After all, Linux can access SMART data just fine and it doesn't
use the BIOS at all after booting.

 > Disks may have 245 heads, of course they are not physical.

I've never heard of non-physical heads.

 > DMA is not desirable when you do data recovery.

Why?

 > Etc.
 >
 > My guess based on my extensive experience: your system is not working 
well
 > with spinrite. I've seen this before.

I agree 100%. Since SpinRite offers a 100% money back guarantee, I
decided to exercise this option. To their credit, they did refund
my money so I have no beef with them.

 > If the Spinrite menus have a lot of
 > lag, something is off, set IDE mode in the BIOS, and if that does not 
help,
 > change the HDD to another sytem, where spinrite runs fast, as it has a
 > superquick user interface normally. Enable IDE and SMART in the BIOS 
if you
 > can.

These are the kinds of things I might do with a free program.
They're unacceptable with a commercial program.

 > If the drive is in really bad shape, things can take a LONG time. 
Spinrite
 > can even get stuck helplessly. That drive is doomed usually. You can do
 > this: you can repartition the HDD to make sure the bad areas are not 
within
 > partitions (I call this out-partitioning the bad sectors).

These are all possible but I bought SpinRite so I wouldn't have
to do them. SpinRite didn't just take a long time - it just hung
all together.

 > OR: you can use HDDRegenerator which is much faster than Spinrite, 
but does
 > not make a lot effort to save the content of bad sectors, quickly 
finds them
 > and eliminates them, making the drive usable again.

I've never heard of HDDRegenerator. I'm not sure if it was available
when I evaluated SpinRite. But, ever if it were, having to buy
another program isn't a big recommendation for SpinRite.

 > I personally use a combination of HDDRegenerator and Spinrite, 
because not
 > every bit of data is so important, and HDDReg can make a quick fix, 
Spinrite
 > can verify everything is okay afterwards (all sectors are readable,
 > writeable). If your data is crucial, SPinrite has to do all the work, and
 > that can take very long. But it DOES save everything that can be saved.

I didn't purposefully try to find a machine with an incompatible BIOS
or abnormally bad disks. I just picked the first machine I laid my
hands on. SpinRite failed on them. I respectfully stand by everything
I said in my review.

As you read people's comments about SpinRite, I'm not alone. Most
people didn't write as objective a review as I did, but it's
clear that SpinRite is not without issues. But, since GRC is
so good about refunding money, it's not a big deal.

Cordially,
Jon Forrest




 
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

Aron Roberts
Just to follow-up on this thread:

There have been a couple of 'anonymous' posts in this thread - from
email addresses with aliases or lacking verifiable human poster names
- from recently-subscribed and/or off-list members.  This is just to
mention to Micronet'ters that Ian Crew and I, as the list admins, have
been watching this thread for potential abuses, and will continue to
do so.  (On balance, we've tended to take a light hand around this, as
that typically has been the best approach over the years.)

Aron Roberts
IST-Research Technologies

 
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

Jon Forrest-3
On 3/8/2013 10:12 AM, Aron Roberts wrote:
> Just to follow-up on this thread:
>
> There have been a couple of 'anonymous' posts in this thread - from
> email addresses with aliases or lacking verifiable human poster names
> - from recently-subscribed and/or off-list members.

I hope I've identified myself sufficiently so that I don't
fall in that category.

That said, I'm not overly concerned about whether the person
who responded to my original 2010 posting today is astroturfing.
His message contained legitimate objective points.

You list administrators, of course, can decide whether this person
should be allowed to post to Micronet.

Cordially,
Jon Forrest



 
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

Richard DeShong-2
My positive experience with Spinrite:
Over 10 yrs ago, it fixed two of my clients hard drives that had corrupted data.  Just let in run for about 6 or 8 hours, and all of the corrupted data was fixed.

But within that past 10 yrs, I've tried to use it several times, and each time the process gets to some point and then just stays there, for days.  The screen looks fairly similar to a Windows Defrag screen. I watch as it progresses thru the graphical map of the drive, checking in on it throughout the day.  Each time, it gets to a place on the drive and then the progress stops.  Even leaving it for days, the process is still at the same place.

So my conclusion was that the idea for the code was good (as evidence by it fixing two drives years ago), but that it doesn't behave well in the current environment, with the current drives.


On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 10:27 AM, Jon Forrest <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 3/8/2013 10:12 AM, Aron Roberts wrote:
> Just to follow-up on this thread:
>
> There have been a couple of 'anonymous' posts in this thread - from
> email addresses with aliases or lacking verifiable human poster names
> - from recently-subscribed and/or off-list members.

I hope I've identified myself sufficiently so that I don't
fall in that category.

That said, I'm not overly concerned about whether the person
who responded to my original 2010 posting today is astroturfing.
His message contained legitimate objective points.

You list administrators, of course, can decide whether this person
should be allowed to post to Micronet.

Cordially,
Jon Forrest




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--
Richard DeShong, Systems Analyst, Athletic Study Center, U.C.Berkeley
164 Chavez Student Center, Berkeley, CA, 94720-4220
510-642-5123     asc.berkeley.edu

 
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Bob
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

Bob
This post has NOT been accepted by the mailing list yet.
In reply to this post by Jon Forrest
Thought I'd mention my experience with Spinrite.
Used different versions for many years on many types of PC's and found it pretty good.

We do have one Dell Optiplex GX520 PC ( Most PC haven't been Dell) that always shows some of the same symptoms described. Over the years I have run it 4 or 5 times on this PC.
It has a SATA HD but only a USB K/B

Running Spinrite right now on this PC.
K/B has normal response until you actually start the scan.
Then to change screens I must continually press the right arrow about 2/3 seconds apart.
Ran it last week on an Acer, with the drive inside, and everything worked as normal.

Have used Spinrite on Dell laptops (including SATA) with no problem at all.

Talking with my son (he also uses Spinrite) he suggests the response could be because the k/b is USB.
Spinrite may give priority to HD and PS2 k/b over USB ones.
This Dell does not have PS2 ports so I can't test his theory.

But as another test I just tried a USB k/b on an HP Pavilion 753n using the same spinrite CD.
The HD is the normal internal IDE
K/B response is mostly perfect, except hard drive clicks when I change screens and after esc to exit, the down arrow won't move it past selection 3.
Popping in a PS2 k/b allows the arrow key to advance to 5) Cancel & Exit.
So my son may be on to something.

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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

cdmccreary
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In reply to this post by Jon Forrest
I have found that when working with Dell GX280 (and probably those other generation systems that do not have a PS2 port) the USB does not work well in emulation of a PS2 keyboard.

Spinrite works.  Dell USB keyboard does not work with Spinrite.  My HP DC7100 of the same era has no problems but has PS2 or better keyboard emulation.

AHCI does not work with Spinrite (probably FreeDOS problem)

When you need your data recovered use Spinrite. 

When you just need the harddrive formatted and SMART to reallocate sectors use format.
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

smile
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I had same problem with optiplex GX280. Same bios etc.

Now I run the spinrite on ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe MB, and no problems. The interface has no lag. SMART is being read OK.

But spinrite shows the https://www.grc.com/sr/kb/badbios.htm
Same happened on the optiplex GX280

So what are good motherboards with SATA ports then?
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

smile
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I also tried the RAID sata ports on the ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe MB, they use Promise controoler. In BIOS I selected "IDE mode" however same error happened on it too.

If one of the best brands of controllers "Promise" is bad, then what is good and works with Spinrite 6?

I could buy PCI type SATA controller if I would know it will work with Spinrite 6.
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Re: [Micronet] Why I’m Going to Return SpinRite for a Refund

smile
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OK, I tried:

Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-9
Biostar P4VMA-M
MSI 915P Combo

Include allready tested
ASUS P4C800E-Deluxe
Dell Optiplex GX280

And you have PC's from year 2000 to 2008 that do not work with Spinrite 6
So do not BUY this SCAM software, as making it work like somebody said "works fine with my 2TB drives" is not possible. I tried DOS 7.10 boot as FreeDOS makes no difference.

Use HDD Regenerator or Drevitalize instead, forget a bout this scrap called Spinrite.
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