All operating systems have built in tools to help maintain an optimal operating state. Linux distributions are no different -- they have a tool called "badblocks" which scans hard disk drives for errors; both physical and otherwise. As long as you've logged into a user with administrative privileges you can run a scan for bad sectors; just be aware the process typically takes a long time. Make sure you've saved all your work and have no other tasks running.
- Skill level:
Open an instance of "Terminal."
Type "badblocks device" and press "Enter." In the command, "device" is the name of the device you want to scan for bad blocks -- for example, "/dev/sda1."
Press "Enter" and wait for the scan to complete. The results will be displayed on the screen.