There is a program called Gwscan on the bootdisk on Gateways web page. This tests the read/write heads of your hdd. The best way to find it is to download from the ftp site, click here
download the file win9598.exe to your desktop, run the program to create the boot disk, restart from the bootdisk, quit to dos and type "cd gwscan" should bring you to C:\GWSCAN> from there run gwscan.exe and choose test drive option. It will tell if the hdd is on its last legs or if it can be repaired.