SpinRite, DOS Attacks, and Steve Gibson

By Deane Barker on August 18, 2003

SpinRite: This is a disk protection utility.

“….any weak and failing areas within the region are located and removed from use while none of the drive’s original data is being stored there. Only after the region has been made absolutely safe, will the drive’s original data be restored to that area.”

Normally I would consider the verbiage on this page to be hyperbole, but Steve Gibson isn’t just anyone. He wrote Shields Up, and is an awfully smart guy.

One of my favorite items on his site is a long narrative about a DOS attack he was the target of: The Strange Tale of the Denial of Service Attacks Against GRC.com. This thing reads like a science fiction novel: bots massing in chat rooms waiting to attack, 14-year-old kids bringing down Web sites, etc. If you start reading it, you’ll find it hard to stop.

And he HATES Microsoft.



  1. S. Gibsons’ product is excellent. Sorry that it’s over your head……….

    Try ‘Computing For Dummies’.

  2. http://grcsucks.com/spinrite.htm

    Most of this is refuted by reading the spinrite tech notes:


    AND, John Navas produces a competing product ( Cable Modem/DSL Tuning Guide) to Gibson’s Shields Up. Interesting, eh? grcsucks didn’t mention this, that I could see.

    Most of Navas’ objections to spinrite are indeed about silly promotional comments about spinrite. Big Deal, all ad copy contains some of this. But the objections to the technical aspects fall short. It makes me wonder if Navas has read the tech notes about spinrite.

    I may be only a lowly electronics technician, but I do know a little bit of BS-ing about a competitors product when I see it. I don’t know about shields up, or any of that stuff, but the technote regarding spinrite seems righteous to me.

  3. Every review of SpinRite I’ve read says the same thing: “the technical details are far too complicated to understand.” So how do we know it works?

    I want to hear an opinion from an engineer for one of the hard drive manufacturers — someone who knows what they’re talking about, and who can say with authority, “Yes, this is brilliant, and this will work. It will prevent or help you recover from A, B, and C.”

    Has this happened yet?

  4. I am not an engineer from a hard drive company but I was involved in the engineering of a manufacturing process on the floor that used the old MFM drives back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I used this product on a regular basis to restore the drives and recover quality data before we put the machines on a LAN. Often the machine had gotten to the point where it wouldn’t boot but SpinRite saved the day. I used version 6 recently to save a Compaq laptop that was really in bad shape and amazingly enough, it did restore the hard drive. It was at the point where two thirds of the drive was being used – overloaded with web files and cookies. I also ran defrag when spinrite was done. The machine at boot was posting a critical message saying the HD was just about ready to die and disaster was ahead. It is nice to have when you need it.

  5. “I want to hear an opinion from an engineer for one of the hard drive manufacturers — someone who knows what they’re talking about, and who can say with authority, “Yes, this is brilliant, and this will work. It will prevent or help you recover from A, B, and C.”

    Has this happened yet?”

    Many times. The fact that most reviewers don’t understand the details is simply due to the fact that there really are very few people who can work at that low level. That doesn’t stop script kiddies from ranting against Gibson. I don’t like some of his hyperbole either, but since I can’t write assembly code, I don’t think I’m qualified to have an opinion on his products.

    Of course, today every idiot kid who’s installed Linux thinks he’s the be-all and end-all of computer expertise, even if he’s never even HEARD of assembler.

  6. I find the Steve Gibson bashing would be somewhat amusing if it didn’t unfairly tarnish the reputation of someone I personally consider one of the true geniuses of our day. I have a pretty decent B.S. detector due to the nature of my work outside the computer field, and although I’ve only listened to the first 46 (of about 150!) Security Now! podcasts at http://www.grc.com/securitynow, I have yet to hear any truly significant BS. Steve is by far the most eloquent computer geek expert I have heard to date, and I only wish there were more professors with his gift of intelligence, knowledge, and the ability to share it humbly with others. Opinions yes, but mean, hurtful BS, no. I bought SpinRite initially out of simple gratitude for the Security Now! show education I receive (SpinRite sales subsidize his ability to prepare these entertaining and informative talks online with the somewhat even more annoyinging entertaining Leo Laport (sp?) of TWIT TV.

    For the record, I’m not a computer hardware engineer, but it was 10 years ago that I first revived an IDE hard drive that had lost it’s mind by manually reconfiguring the BIOS sector, landing zone, etc info. And yes, I passed my class in Assembly language (IBM370 no less) at the local community college. And C++, and Javascript, and Unix/Linux and web administration….and this is just a hobby for me.

    My guess is that if you scratch the surface of Mr. John Navas, you will find that he has or represents interests in more than a few software or hardware enterprises threatened by Steve Gibson’s mind and generosity.

  7. Steve it would be nice of you to search out attached drives that will not boot and ask if we want you to make them bootable. My wife has made all of my software disks non-bootable by turning off the computer rather than shutting it down properly.

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