What to Do When Your Hard Drive Fails

Many computer users are blissfully optimistic about the reliability of their devices. However, this optimism can be harmful, especially when it surrounds one of the most vulnerable devices, the hard drive. While few hard drives fail in their first year or two of service, nearly all kick the bucket at some point. Whether you enjoy a year or a decade of use, this device will eventually become inoperable. When that awful day arrives, your response will largely be determined by whether you deluded yourself about your hard drive’s longevity, or prepared for its imminent failure.

Why Do Hard Drives Fail?

A variety of issues can prompt hard drive failure, including:

  • Age – No matter how well you treat your hard drive, general wear and tear can lead to problems after a few years. Mechanical issues with the read-write head are most likely to emerge as hard drives age.
  • Excessive Exposure to Heat or Water – These issues are most common during extreme weather conditions or natural disasters. However, simple accidents like spilling liquids on your device can also cause your hard drive to fail.
  • Power Surges or Outages – If your computer is not equipped with surge protectors or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), thunderstorms could lead to hard drive-destroying outages.
  • Physical Damage – Falls or other forms of impact can compromise otherwise functional hard drives.

Your hard drive’s life can be extended by limiting the extent to which it is booted up and shut down. While it’s difficult to know where to draw the line, the general rule of thumb involves shutting down the computer when you’ll be away for over 24 hours. In all other cases, sleep mode is a safer alternative.

While causes related to physical damage can be traced easily, non-physical failures – also known as logical failures – tend to prompt greater confusion. These failures can be attributed to damage within the hard drive’s files or general structure and are often caused by malware infections and corrupted files.

Signs of Hard Drive Failure

Hard drive failure symptoms may look slightly different from one computer to the next. The following issues should be cause for concern:

  • Frequent crashes that occur at seemingly random times – but especially while booting Windows.
  • Odd noises from the hard drive, such as humming or clicking.
  • Regular error messages when running programs or moving files.

While these signs indicate a hard drive on the fritz, they don’t necessarily mean that your computer is beyond all hope. As soon as you observe these signs, back up your data; it may not be long before you find yourself on the hunt for a new hard drive.

However, certain behaviors could indicate that your hard drive is already too far gone. If you notice any of the following, it may be time to purchase an entirely system:

  • A blue screen on Windows, also known as the blue screen of death.
  • A computer that will not start, no matter how hard you try.
  • A ‘file not found’ notice that appears when you attempt to boot your computer.

How to Minimize the Damage

If you plan for an inevitable hard drive failure, the actual event might not be so terrible after all. Backing up your data is essential. Ideally, you’ll enjoy easy access to at least two full backups, one of which should be stored in an off-site location. After all, natural disasters can destroy your backup just as easily as they can ruin the original.

As you explore options for backing up your data, consider which files are most important and how often they should be backed up. Multiple methods are available, but some are costlier or more time-consuming than others. The experts at NerdsToGo are happy to help you weigh your options as you plan for the worst-case scenario.

How to Recover Lost Data Due to Hard Drive Failure

If there’s a silver lining to your hard drive fiasco, it’s the potential for data recovery. While there’s never any guarantee of retrieving data, many computer owners have successfully regained access to critical data after they assumed it was gone for good.

The ability to recover data following a hard drive failure largely depends on the incident’s cause. Severe physical damage, for example, may make it impossible to reboot the hard drive. However, files can sometimes be retrieved following a malware-related failure.

If you intend to recover data from a hard drive, do not attempt to reboot it shortly after the crash. This could cause permanent damage. Instead, remove the hard drive and connect it via a Serial ATA (SATA) to USB converter cable. Next, determine whether the drive can be detected. If it can, data recovery software could make all the difference. This process is best conducted under the guidance of an expert, who can minimize further damage to your hard drive.

Trust NerdsToGo for Data Recovery Services

Is your hard drive acting up? Or are you determined to take a proactive approach to data backup and security in Portland? Either way, you can benefit from the assistance of our team of Nerds. In addition to helping you prepare for hard drive failure, the experts at NerdsToGo can provide emergency relief for hard drives that have already crashed. They’ll help you retrieve critical data and get your technological life back on track. Our Nerds are even willing to reinstall Windows 10 after a hard drive failure.

Reach out today to learn more about our in-home computer repair services, and to discover why we’re so highly trusted.