- Posted by Admin
- On December 9, 2015
The most common HDD is a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) although there are many different types of HDD for the purpose of this article we will concentrate on the SATA device only 2.5” (laptop) 3.5” (PC).
A HDD is best described as a storage device. Your computer does not use the HDD to run programs it simply copy’s the required information from the HDD into memory (RAM Random access memory) before it is run.
Getting too techy now, let’s get back to basics. A HDD device is made up of multiple disks (bit like a CD but thinner) a motor to drive the disks and read/write heads.
Given its mechanical construction, sooner or later, all hard drives will crash, fail, die, error, call it what you like it stops doing the job it was designed for.
Armed with this knowledge only, it makes sense to backup your data (There is a whole new subject)
Warning Signs of imminent failure
In some cases, you may start to see signs of potential failure, before the HDD completely stops working. Early warning signs include:
- Computer freezes often. When it happens, the mouse cursor is unmovable and keyboard input is ignored. Nothing works and a restart is required to recover the computer.
- Files mysterious disappearing.
- Frequent lock-up during booting. All computers will freeze every now and then and it doesn’t necessarily mean the drive is failing. You’re looking for a pattern.
- File access mysteriously slows to a snail’s pace. Saving files or open files simply takes forever.
These are typical warning signs of a pending drive failure. When you start to see a noticeable increase in these patterns, backing up your data needs to take top priority. Otherwise you really are playing Russian roulette with your hard drive.
Signs of Real Failure
When the drive actually fails, it is usually a mechanical failure.
- You may hear the drive making strange metallic noises or clicking. This is the read/write head trying to find data on the disks that are no longer spinning.
- If the read/write head has failed then you may hear the disk spinning and nothing else.
- If it is a control board failure then you generally hear nothing, however when you try to boot the PC it would indicate that the HDD was missing.
Once actual failure occurs, it just doesn’t work, your PC will just not start. There are solutions to recover data but only if you have a lot of spare cash.
The first thing to do is run through some inspection of the computer to see if this is indeed a drive failure. Here is a basic checklist. Now, if the PC was working fine and then just stopped working, chances are these items are not the case.
- Check to ensure the power cable is properly connected to the drive.
- Check to be sure the data cable is properly connected to the drive.
Once the physical connections have been verified, go into the computer’s BIOS and have it auto-detect the drive. If it can detect it, then we know we have a solid connection. It doesn’t mean the drive is good, just that the BIOS can see it.
Using a bootable diagnostics diskette or USB, reboot and run a scan on the drive. It will scan the drive, including the boot partition. Use a third-party disk management program or simply FDISK to view the partitions on the drive. If no active partitions are found, then you know the partitions are screwed up. Unfortunately, that would be bad news. You can try a data recovery utility (see below) to recover the data. Otherwise, you will need to re-partition the drive and lose your data in the process. You may want to run a ScanDisk or Check Disk on the drive. This is best if the drive is functioning partially. If you have a full mechanical failure, nothing will work. If some data is retrievable but others are not, then we have a partial failure. Try running Scandisk or Check Disk to scan the drive. Allow it to perform a full scan and fix anything it finds.
If this all sounds a bit complicated, well it is. You may want to consider using a professional PC engineer to carry out these functions for you. Don’t try too much yourself, you may cause more damage. There is a high probability if you catch the problem early that most if not all the data can be recovered
What do you do if you have lost all of your Data?
If you have a backup of all your data then great, it will cost you the price of a hard drive and an OS (operating system install) and software. Copy all of your data back Whoo! All for about £100.
No backups, if the data is very important you can find the odd recovery expert on Google search, but this could be as much as £1000 just to recover some of your data (Not guaranteed). Backup, Backup and Backup.