Windows XP has a utility function called Error-checking function that allows you to check for bad sectors or a hard disk drive. The Error-checking function will scan the disk drive and mark all areas it cannot read as bad sectors. This function can be accessed by right clicking the hard disk drive, and selecting ‘Properties', and afterwards ‘Tools'. Error-checking also gives you the ability to “automatically fix file system errors” or “scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors”.
Some people choose to format a hard disk drive when a lot of bad sectors are apparent on the drive. However, also be aware that when there is an increase of bad sectors, this could signal the impending death of your hard drive.