Sometimes a hard drive may experience failure or sudden crash without any warning, but many times there are warning signs that will let you know when to take action. Changes in performance, intermittent failures, or unexpected blue screens are major signs that the hard drive may be dying out permanently. The most obvious warning sign with a hard drive is unusual clicking, grinding, or scraping noises.
In practice, the term hard drive crash often refers to both mechanical or electrical failue and logical failure. The case of mechanical / electrical hard drive crash is the worst, it requires professional help of data recovery service, recovery programs won’t help.
Hard Drive Crash Signs
If your PC is experiencing any of the following signs of impeding doom then you must run (not walk) and grab CDs to burn backups of all your essential data.
Sign 1 – You hear high-pitched whining, loud clicking or grinding noises coming from the drive
A normally operating drive will make a smooth “whirling” sound as is spins up or down. But if a drive has a grinding or clicking sounds (the Read/Write heads scraping too close to the magnetic platters), then your drive is sick and is on the way out.
Sign 2 – You see the infamous “Blue Screen of Death“, repeatedly
BSODs (Blue Screens of Death) are actually called “Stop” errors and they only appear when your Windows system is experiencing severe software or hardware issues. Often BSODs can cured with a careful “Repair Install” of the Windows operating system or by removal of a bad device driver. But if these software fast fixes don’t seem stick, then your hard drive is usually on its last legs
Sign 3 – Your computer keeps re-booting on its own
I admit, I have only seen this problem a few times in my 18+ year career and in all instances it was due to hardware issues. Once it was a dust covered motherboard, and another time an overheating processor. But all the other times it was due to bad drives.
Sign 4 – Your system keeps having frequent freezes or hang ups
You are working along just fine, and then suddenly everything comes to a halt. The program freezes up on you. Your mouse and keyboard seem to stop responding. The only solution is to reboot.
Sign 5 – Error message: hard drive is not formatted
This a fun message that you will get when you start up your machine. You maybe able to restart and get it to boot into Windows a few more times but this error is “fur-sure” sign that you drive is very close to death. And by the way don’t try to format the drive! You will lose all your data.
Sign 6 – Error message: boot drive or device not found or drive cannot be accessed
This is another favorite of mine. You can check the CD/DVD trays or the floppy drive to make sure no stray disks are stuck inside. You can also check the BIOS to make sure the system is booting from the hard drive first. If all these tests are no-good, then the drive is a goner.
Sign 7 – Errors: Operating system not found or Missing Operating System
This is a bad one. Even the Microsoft technical support knowledgebase has only got a few causes for this error message. Basically your PC can no longer detect the hard drive or the drive is too severely damaged to read (DOA).
What to do if your drive has any of these signs?
1) First, listen up, if possible, BACKUP YOUR FILES NOW!
2) Create a boot disk and run Windows Scandisk and set it to automatically fix errors. If it finds more than a few bad sectors then see the point above
3) If possible download and use a hard drive diagnostic program. All the major hard drive manufacturers have free utilities on their websites.
You should never open the cover of a failed hard disk drive in attempt to repair, salvage or recover data. Today’s hard disk drives tolerances are very tight and the materials used inside are so technologically advanced that even the smallest speck of dust, contaminants or even gaseous can disrupt the delicate balance of the drives ecosystem. Any such disruption not only destroys the drive but all the data contained on it.