Knowing if a hard drive is failing: 9 steps (with pictures)

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Knowing if a hard drive is failing: 9 steps (with pictures)
Knowing if a hard drive is failing: 9 steps (with pictures)

Hard drives are the basis of our computer use. Using computers is tantamount to manipulating data, and the hard drive is a place where we can keep all our data; photo albums, music, work documents, email, etc. Most of the components in a computer are not mechanical. They do not wear out like a mechanical device (eg a car). But your hard drive is one of the few electronic devices with mechanical parts in modern data processing, and is therefore destined to die first. It's important to be able to recognize the signs of a hard drive collapsing, as you may not have the budget for a comprehensive backup system, saving all that data before it's lost - sometimes forever and not. get more back, whatever you're willing to pay for it.


Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 1

Step 1. Try to find out when the hard drive will stop working before it actually does

That's not always possible, and sometimes a hard drive just crashes - but it's still important to keep an eye out for the symptoms of an impending hard drive failure so you have a chance to back up your data. your data and get professional help. Hard drives are highly sensitive pieces of hardware, so don't open them up to look inside unless you know what you're doing. And make sure that when you open the part, that the plates are not exposed to the outside air - hard drives can only be opened in dust-free rooms (Class 100), otherwise they will be destroyed by dust almost immediately. It's a lot easier (and cheaper) to back up than to have your data restored. As soon as you notice any of the indications that the device is going to fail, it is important to have or create a backup. When the drive dies, you can claim the warranty if you still have it, or buy a new drive so you can continue. Recovery can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, with no guarantee that all of the data will be recovered; it's definitely a ridiculous amount to pay, but there's not much more you can do except shop around and try to get the best price. The cost of transferring a backup to a brand new drive is much less than asking a data specialist to do the same for you.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 2

Step 2. Pay attention to strange noises

If you sometimes hear strange grinding and rattling noises, it means that the drive has been damaged beyond repair - for example, if the head has crashed, which is often the case. Or it could just be that the hard drive motor is broken, or your drive is making grinding noises due to noisy bearings. If you hear strange noises, act very quickly - you probably don't have much time.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 3

Step 3. Watch for disappearing data and disk errors

Can't save a document anymore? Or are you sure that yesterday you had a file on your desktop that is now nowhere to be seen? Programs that have always worked suddenly stop working, asking for the location of a file? These are all possible indications that your hard drive has seen better days. Sure, your kids may have moved your files for fun or a virus has corrupted them, but missing data is never a good sign for your drive if you can rule out these alternative causes.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 4

Step 4. Check if your computer still recognizes your hard drive

This may seem obvious, but if your computer no longer recognizes the drive, chances are there's a problem with the drive, not the computer. Test the drive in another computer to see if the drive is recognized. Often this will be a logical error - unless you hear strange noises that indicate a serious mechanical problem, or a problem with the read/write head.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 5

Step 5. Keep track of if your computer crashes a lot

Does your computer regularly show a blue screen or does the system reboot suddenly? Does the system crash often, especially during the operating system startup? If your computer crashes frequently, especially when accessing files (such as during startup), this may be an indication that there is a problem with the hard drive.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 6

Step 6. Watch if your computer becomes slow

It's not supposed to take half an hour to open a folder in Windows Explorer, or two hours to empty the trash. Computer users have often encountered this problem over the years, and it is always followed by a failing hard drive within a month or two.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 7

Step 7. Pay attention to sound as an indicator

As soon as the sound deviates from the norm, or there is an abundance of clicking and grinding noises coming from your hard drive, it should be turned off immediately. Know the sound of your hard drive while it is still young and operational, as you will have to learn to spot the slightest differences as the drive ages.

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 8

Step 8. Check your hard drive with chkdsk

If your computer crashes or can't find a file that was there not long ago, that means your hard drive is on its way to the end, but it could also be that there is a simple error in the file format of the drive. These types of errors can usually (but not always) be fixed using the chkdsk feature that comes standard with almost all Windows installations. To fix a file system error on drive C:, open a command prompt while logged in as an administrator - if you're running Windows Vista or higher - and type 'chkdsk C: /f'. (If you also want to check for data errors with chkdsk, add another parameter to it: 'chkdsk C: /f /r'.)

Tell if a Hard Drive Is Bad Step 9

Step 9. Fix errors in your hard drive

The chkdsk command will check and fix the file system structure on disk C: (and check and fix any errors in data files, if the /r parameter is used). If you have more than one hard drive, it is advisable to run chkdsk on those computers as well, by replacing the C: with the letter of the relevant drive (of that extra hard drive). E.g. E: - the command will then look like 'chkdsk E: /f /r'. In most cases, this will fix file system errors so that the drive will work normally again. However, if the error occurs again, either during reboot or within 12 active hours on the same drive where the original error was, then your drive is broken and you will have to try to back up as much of that drive's data and as soon as you can before removing and replacing the drive. (It's irreparable and will only deteriorate further if you continue to use it.) Keep track of how long it takes the system to boot


  • Logical errors: Logical errors occur when the hard drive electronics are broken or the software (firmware) has a problem. This type of failure is usually the cheapest and easiest to diagnose. Unfortunately, it is also an uncommon error.
  • Media Errors: If the hard drive has been handled roughly, the magnetic plates are scratched, or if there are read/write errors or low-level formatting problems, then this is a media error. These are also relatively rare. If the plates are scratched, the data may be considered lost.
  • Why do hard drives fail?
  • Read/write head errors: A head problem occurs when the read/write head crashes into the boards (a head crash), the head floats unevenly above the boards, or when the wiring between the circuit board and the head is faulty is - among other read/write head failures. This is a common malfunction. A head crash is especially annoying.
  • Mechanical failures: Mechanical failures probably make up the largest part of all hard drive problems. The engine burns out, the drive overheats, bearings stick - the sort of thing you'd expect when a car isn't having problems. This can be annoying, but if the failure hasn't affected the records, you may have a chance of recovery, but at a high cost.


  • When you contact a data recovery specialist, they will inform you about the shipment of the drive, although they prefer that you deliver the drive to avoid further damage.
  • Don't try to be the hero. If there is time, make sure to back up your data. If there is no time - such as when the drive makes annoying noises - remove it from the computer or case, wrap it in anti-static plastic or aluminum foil and store it in a safe place until you can send the drive to a professional. Hard drives are very sensitive. Don't mess with it.
  • When it comes to hard drives, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse and act quickly. And, of course, make extensive backups, even if you have to postpone shopping for them.

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