3 Signs Your Hard Drive Is Failing (And What to Do): Is your hard disk showing signs of wear and tear? Here are some straightforward methods for determining whether your hard disk is failing (and how to save or recover your data when it is).
A stationary hard drive’s average life span is between five and ten years. Reduced performance if the drive is subjected to fluctuating temperatures, humidity, or external shocks. In reality, your laptop’s hard disk will die after three to five years, and the same is true for SSDs. Are you beginning to feel uneasy yet?
Three Signs That Your Hard Drive Is Failing
In the best-case scenario, hard drives fail gradually, giving you time to save your data and replace them before they fail fatally.
However, how can you determine if your hard disk is failing? It’s fortunate that you’re here!
1. Computer slows down, frequently freezes, and displays a blue screen of death
This trinity of PC failures can have a million distinct causes, one of which is a failing hard drive. If these difficulties occur following a clean installation or when in Windows Safe Mode, the cause is almost probably poor hardware, maybe a failing hard drive.
You can run a variety of diagnostic programs to rule out a hard disk issue, but you should start by examining your system’s S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) data. While Windows collects this information automatically in the background, it is notoriously inaccurate at predicting hard drive failure, and you may have a critical failure before an S.M.A.R.T. warning appears.
To manually verify the S.M.A.R.T. status of your hard disk, you’ll need a third-party utility such as CrystalDiskInfo. Select the disk to scan and take note of its health level under Disk.
If other diagnostic tools rule out hardware concerns, you should proceed to resetting or reinstalling your operating system. While Windows 10 includes an option to retain all your files, you should still create a backup just in case. Continue reading for additional information on backups.
2. Corrupted Data and the Growth of Negative Sectors
Corrupted data can manifest itself in an infinite number of ways. If you observe one of these symptoms regularly, the likelihood is that your hard drive is progressively failing:
- File or folder names that have been scrambled
- When opening, transferring, or saving files, you may receive random error messages.
- Files that are unable to be opened
- Data corruption within your files
- Files or directories that vanish
Data corruption occurs during the data production or storage process. It is possible that a virus is interfering with your files, but it is also possible that your hard drive has defective sectors.
The term “bad sectors” refers to portions of the hard disk that lack data integrity. Windows covers damaged sectors automatically, so you will not notice them unless you encounter issues with corrupted data. On a failing hard disk, bad sectors collect rapidly, increasing the likelihood of encountering these issues.
CHKDSK, a Windows command-line program, can assist you in recovering data from damaged sectors and excluding them from future usage. To do a fast scan, open File Explorer by pressing Windows + E, navigate to This PC, right-click the failed disk or partition, and select Properties.
Switch to the Tools tab within Properties and click Check. If Windows informs you that “You do not need to scan this drive,” you can still select Scan drive to launch the application. Once it’s completed, you can opt to correct any issues it discovered.
Conduct a chkdsk error check from the Windows disk properties dialog box.
A more comprehensive CHKDSK scan can take several minutes and may require a reboot. When you can spare a night and a day from your computer, open an Administrator command prompt, i.e., right-click Start and select Command Prompt (Admin), and then run the following command to recover data and rectify errors: chkdsk /r c: chkdsk /r c: (for your C: drive). When prompted, type Y, and CHKDSK will run after your computer has been restarted.
Conducting a chkdsk scan on Windows 10 using the chkdsk command.
3. Strange Sounds
When odd noises emanate from your hard disk, you’re in serious trouble. The click of death is a recurring sound produced by the head attempting to write data, failing, retreating to its home position, and retrying repeatedly. Grinding or screeching noises indicate that physical components are malfunctioning, such as bearings or the spindle motor.
At this stage, you’re lucky if the data on your hard disk can be recovered.
My Hard Drive May Be Failing. What Am I to Do?
So you believe that a hard disk failure is imminent? The reality is that it most likely is. Additionally, here is what you can do.
Step 1: Create a Data Backup
The best course of action is to constantly store backups of your data on a secondary drive and to be prepared to replace it.
Two drives failing simultaneously is improbable. Natural disasters such as floods or fires are an exception. In these instances, we recommend that you store a copy of your most critical data in a separate physical location, such as at work or with a family member or friend.
Additionally, you might utilize an online backup option such as OneDrive or Google Drive. Consider upgrading to a Microsoft 365 membership if you use Microsoft Office, which includes the latest version of Office and 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Step 2: Substitute a new drive
When you’re ready to replace your SSD or HDD, consult our instructions on how to choose and install the proper drive.
Step 3: Dispose of Your Old Drive Safely
Before disposing of an outdated disk, wipe it to prevent a third party from recovering your data.
Please do not discard your failed drive. Electronics contain rare metals and hazardous components that should not be disposed of in a landfill. Bring old gear to a local electronic recycling center, inquire at your local electronics retailer whether they accept it, or participate in a program like Western Digital’s free electronic recycling program, which offers 15% off your next purchase.
The five-step electronic recycling process used by Western Digital.
Avoid a Hard Drive Failure!
Do not rely on signals or software to determine whether your hard drive is failing. It is more than possible that it will collapse unexpectedly and without notice. Rather than attempting to forecast something even less predictable than the weather, it is prudent to rely on backups.