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What To Do if Your Hard Drive Fails

So…the unthinkable has happened. Somehow, your hard drive has just….given up. What can you do? How can you proceed from here? Is your data safe? Will you need to replace your computer? What about all your personal information? Here’s a few steps you should go through when you’re having hard drive troubles, in order to determine what the problem is and-hopefully- eliminate it.

1. Make Sure the Problem is with the Hard Drive: Can you still start your computer up in safe mode? One surefire way to determine whether or not a drive’s bad is to utilize a piece of drive testing software, such as Seagate Seatools.

2. Check to see that it’s connected: This is only for those of you who know your way around the inside of a computer. Occasionally, a hard drive might become disconnected from the motherboard (or the connectors might get a bit loose).

3. Listen: Does the Hard Drive make strange sounds while it’s running? Is it skipping and cracking audibly, or making noises other than what it should be(humming and occasional crackling as it accesses files and information).  That’s a sure sign something’s messed up inside.

4. Bring it In: Unless you’re equipped to do hard drive repair and data recovery out of your own basement, you’d probably be best served bringing it in to a registered technician in order to get it repaired. After all, if there’s a problem, you don’t want to make it any worse than it already is- and if there’s a chance of fixing things, you don’t want to mess up that chance (though generally once a hard drive fails, there’s little to do except damage control.)

5. Data Recovery: If there’s a bunch of absolutely vital data on your drive and you absolutely can’t abide with losing it, there may be a small chance that someone could recover that data (depending on how badly damaged the hard drive is and whether or not that data is on a damaged sector.) Be warned, though- unless you’ve absolutely irreplaceable data, you’re better off cutting your losses- recovery ain’t cheap, after all.

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5 thoughts on “What To Do if Your Hard Drive Fails”

George Travers says:
Backing up data and also making an image of the drive will save your precious data.
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Anonymous says:
You should also mention Time Frame– For me, the safe lifespan of a normal, unglitched & untroubled drive is 5-7 years. If your PC is on all the time– after 5 years you should be ‘On-alert’.

Drive Noise is okay– except by the time you have to take the thing out to put your ear to it– it’s pretty much too late.

After 5 or 7 years– I pay attention to Strange Pauses, Unaccountable Delays when attemptng to access a partition. Stuttering when streaming a video. Momentary errors or program pauses when attempting to open a file. Loooong Boot-up pauses when the BIOS reaches the Hard-Drive section and nothing scrolls up for 5 seconds.

When I see these signs after 5 years, I immediately clone the drive and swap it out.

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May 18, 2012

643 Articles Published