Hard disc drives (HDD) or simply hard drives (HD) eventually fail. Whether you like it or not, your hard drive cannot run forever. Although hard drive makers often guarantee their products can run for years, there are simply many unpredictable factors that can shorten a hard drive’s lifespan. Fortunately, there are simple tricks that can significantly lengthen it. We hope that this material will be a helpful reference for those looking forward to educate themselves on how to take care and even fix some problems with their own hard drives
Symptoms of hard drive failure
There are often a few telltale signs of a failing hard drive that even novice Windows users will not fail to notice. Below are the most common indicators of a bad hard drive:
Unusual sound. If your computer seems to be making strange sounds during boot up or when during normal use, it’s highly possible that the one or a few of the mechanical components inside the drive is malfunctioning. Hard drives designed for desktops have a single motor that can spin the platter or disc between a range of 5,400 rpm to 10,000 rpm. On top of the rotating disc is a head that reads from and saves to the rotating disc. Sometimes, the head crashes or fails due to damage causing it to come in contact with the rotating disc. Such situation can result to permanent damage to the disc itself. A head crash can produce a trashing or screeching sound and sometimes leads to blue screen of death error. Other components inside the hard drive can produce sound if they’re damaged as well so if you hear any abnormal sound coming from the hard drive area, make sure to turn the computer off right away. This may help you salvage some important files later.
Corrupted or lost files. Another thing to watch out for is when you keep on encounter corrupted files. For example, if you notice that known good photos, videos, or any other type of files have become corrupted, a bad hard drive may be to blame. Keep in mind that there are a number of other factors that lead to files becoming corrupt but you should not rule out bad hard drive (viruses can also corrupt files as well as other software issues). Programs that suddenly stop working is another indicator. It may be an early sign of a hard drive slowly going out.
Random freezing or lock ups. Even brand new computers can suffer from freezes or lock ups but if the problem happens more frequently in your case, it may be a sign of a dying hard drive. If the usual reboot process won’t fix the freezing issue, your hard drive may be going out soon.
Near-constant crashes. Like in random freezing issue, if your computer keeps crashing even during normal use, a bad hard drive may be behind the trouble. Some crashes may be accompanied by errors or blue screen of death. Make sure to take note of the error or error code (if possible) and do a quick Google search for it.
Bad sectors. A hard drive disc is divided into different sectors. A hard drive sector can save 512 bytes normally although more advanced drives can save up to 4096 bytes. Sometimes, a certain part of the hard drive can have bad sectors, which often leads to crashes, errors, or loss of file. There are two types of bad sectors — hard and soft. A hard bad sector means the disc is physically damaged, while a soft bad sector is caused some software glitch. The latter is often fixed by a full hard drive reformat. To check if your hard drive has bad sectors in it, you can use the built-in Windows diagnostic tool. The tool will identify bad sectors and will try to fix them if possible. Simply follow these steps:
- Right click the drive under My Computer.
- Select Properties.
- Navigate to the Tools tab.
- Select Check button under Error Checking.
A hard disc drive is often one of the first components in a computer that dies. That’s a fact. Length of life of hard drives vary a lot depending on a number of factors. Some drives can last five years and above despite extensive every day use while others can fail after a couple of years with light use only. Like your own demise, you must always prepare for the final day your hard drive. Unless you keep trash in it all the time, a complete hard drive failure may be catastrophic. That said, we can’t emphasize the point enough that you need to regularly create a back up of your irreplaceable files to another device or in a remote cloud service. For now, let’s discuss what are different types of hard drive failures you may meet.
Head Crash. This problem occurs when read-write head, commonly called head by technicians, comes in direct contact with the fast rotating platter or disc. A head works by “flying” over rotating platter. This is made possible by riding on top of an entrapped moving air at the surface of the platter. The gap between the platter and the head is called “flying height.” a sudden severe movement of the computer can significantly reduce the flying height, causing the head to come into contact with the platter. This sudden jolt can physically damage the hard drive after the head touches the platter. Years ago, laptops are prone to head failures but today, such problem has been addressed by motion detection system that automatically parks the head safely if sudden movement is detected. We still discourage users from suddenly moving their laptops or desktops though because no system is perfect.
Mechanical Failure. As the name suggests, this one means that one of the moving parts inside the hard drive assembly has failed. In many cases, it’s a head crash, as mentioned above. Sometimes, the hard drive motor or actuator, or even a bearing simply goes out. Mechanical failure is the most common hard drive failure but as long as the disc or platter is not damaged, there may still be a chance that you will be able to recover important files.
Media Failure. The platter or disc is where the actual data are stored. If it becomes scratched by the head after a sudden movement or jolt, the sectors damaged by the head will no longer allow reading or writing, which often results to corrupted files. The missing files may or may not be critical to the system. If they are critical, your computer may randomly crash or show the blue screen of death issue.
Logical Failure. The term “logical” here refers to the data becoming inaccessible after it was modified due to a number of reasons. This means that the actual data is still intact but it can no longer be accessed normally because the method to read it has been altered. Causes of logical failure can vary but often they are due to a firmware glitch. Logical failure is often easy to fix although it’s the most uncommon issue of all four types. Physical disc damage can sometimes lead to logical failure too, especially if the critical system data has been cut off due to hardware failure in the platter. For example, the set of photos and videos in certain sectors may still be intact but another physically damaged sector that contains vital system files needed to access the photos and videos may no longer exists.[mai mult...]