What Is Data Corruption? How to Fix a Corrupted Hard Drive: Because data corruption might result in the loss of data on your hard drive, it is prudent to maintain backups. Is it too late? Learn how to repair a hard drive.
When discussing the preservation of sensitive data, you’re likely to hear the word “data corruption” mentioned a few times. However, what is data corruption and how can you repair your files if something goes wrong?
Let’s dissect data corruption and discuss how to avoid losing your data.
How Is Data Corruption Defined?
Consider working in a hospital that utilizes filing cabinets to keep patient information. Each patient has a folder containing all of their personal information, and each folder is assigned a certain location in a drawer that covers names in a particular range.
Due to the hospital’s high volume, drawers and folders are constantly being opened and closed. This illustrates the ease with which information can be jumbled with this approach.
Several faults include the following:
As folders are removed and changed, the individual papers therein become out of order, damaged, or even lost entirely.
When transferring a file from one hospital to another, it is possible for some documents to go lost in folders.
- A physician may make an error when filling out a prescription form and entering inaccurate information into a folder.
- A physician may take a packet home to study it and then fail to return it. If he does recall, the folder may reappear with all of the pages in the wrong sequence.
- Tony Smith’s information may have been mixed up with that of another patient with the same name, resulting in Tony Smith’s folder containing the records of two unconnected people.
- A drawer may get clogged, rendering all patients with surnames between J and L unable to view their records.
Vandals or natural disasters, in the worst-case scenario, can damage entire cabinets!
- While a hard disk is not a filing cabinet, it does function as one in terms of storing information and data. Hard drives contain data in the form of magnetic or demagnetized zones that correspond to a 1 or a 0. In case you’re wondering, yep, this is what binary code is composed of!
How Is a Corrupted File Identified?
When a file becomes corrupted, it behaves similarly to the damaged folder in the preceding example. When doctors muddle up, damage, or delete pages from a folder, the patient’s records become unreadable.
Similar to physical corruption, digital corruption happens when the data in a file becomes scrambled. This occurs when the file’s 1s and 0s are altered, compromising the file’s integrity.
For instance, if you open a corrupted text document, you may notice strange ASCII letters and words within the page. If a file is severely corrupted, the computer will be unable to open it. Rather than that, it shows an error message indicating that the file cannot be read.
The Factors That Contribute to Data Corruption
Corrupted data can occur during the authoring, editing, or transfer of data to another drive. When a program writes wrong data or when a write process is interrupted, the data might get corrupted, resulting in a corrupted file.
Additionally, a virus can corrupt files. Typically, this is done on purpose to corrupt critical system files. A virus can have a ripple effect that stops the computer from booting properly by corrupting a few essential files in the operating system.
A hard drive is comprised of a spinning disk referred to as a “platter” that holds all the 1s and 0s that comprise your information. Occasionally, sections of the hard drive become “locked away” as a result of an unintentional software error, referred to as a “soft bad sector.” This prohibits data from being accessed within that sector. By doing a disk diagnostic, you can fix soft bad sectors and disentangle the issue that caused the lock.
Regrettably, physical damage to the platter might occur as a result of impact or overheating. This results in the formation of a “hard bad sector,” in which a whole region of the disk becomes permanently unreadable. This results in the erasure of data in that sector.
Even if you take good care of your hard drive and use a good antivirus, hard drives are mechanical devices that degrade gradually over time. When a result, as a drive’s lifespan shortens, it will gradually degrade and destroy its data.
How to Check the Health of a Hard Drive
If you want to keep an eye on the health of your hard drive, you can use specialized tools to do so. These programs do a self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting check on your hard drive’s self-monitoring, analysis, and reporting technology (S.M.A.R.T.).
While hard drives can monitor their health and notify the computer if there are problems, you can manually check to see if anything is wrong. This manner, you can prepare for the worst-case scenario before it occurs.
CrystalDisk Info is an excellent tool for performing this task. Once you’ve downloaded and opened it, you’ll see all of your hard drive’s information, as well as a grade for its overall health. This information can be used to determine whether your hard disk is still functional or is nearing the end of its useful life.
How to Restore Data from a Corrupted Hard Drive
How to Repair a Hard Drive Using Windows
Use the Checkdisk command to check the hard drive for errors on a Windows-based computer. By hitting Win + X, selecting Windows Powershell (Admin), and typing chkdsk c: /f /r /x, you may do a disk check. If your Windows 10 installation is on a different drive, you may need to modify the “c:” variable.
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With a few additional options, this command instructs the chkdsk process to search your system. The /f instructs it to look for and correct problems. The /r flag instructs it to retrieve data that has become stuck in a faulty sector. Finally, the /x command instructs chkdisk to unmount the device so that it may perform its task.
A word of caution, however; this disk check can take several hours (if not a whole day!) to complete, so plan accordingly.
Beyond fixing corrupted files, chkdsk is an extremely useful tool, and there are other chkdsk commands for Windows 10 beyond mending corrupted files.
How to Repair a Hard Drive Utilizing macOS
If you’re using macOS, a similar step can be performed by hitting the Apple menu button and then Restart. Keep Command+R pressed until the Apple logo appears. Continue by selecting Disk Utility. On View, click Show All Devices, then select your drive. Finally, click the First Aid button—-it resembles a stethoscope.
The operating system will next scan your disk for corruption and attempt to repair it.
If you’ve attempted to repair the corruption with no success, you can restore the disk by performing a full hard drive format. This method wipes the slate clean of corrupted data and restores normal operation to your PC, but if you perform a full format, you will lose all of your data.
Fortunately, there are methods for data recovery. For one thing, you can copy the data to another hard drive in order to preserve your contents prior to the wipe. This procedure entails connecting the infected drive to a healthy one and instructing the healthy drive to copy over the files.
Additionally, you can utilize data recovery programs to recover some files prior to the formatting process. The success rate varies according to the severity of the corruption, but maybe you’ll be able to recover some files prior to wiping!
Backups Are Critical in the Event of Data Corruption
Of course, none of this is necessary if you regularly backup your data. You do not need to back up your complete computer; only the critical papers that would be extremely detrimental if they went permanently.
If you wish to create a backup of your files, you have several options. The trick is to choose one that fits your demands and budget, so you can keep your information secure with the least amount of fuss possible.
Safeguarding Your Data
Corrupted data can cause irreversible damage to your critical files. That is why it is critical to maintain backups and take care of your hard disk to avoid losing irreplaceable information and folders.