PC Troubleshooting – Part 3: Hard Drive Issues

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Now that we’ve been over some mostly fixable issues(overheating, malware) that could be causing problems with your computer, I’m going to talk about the one problem that you can’t really get out of without replacing the component.

That problem is hard drive failure. That’s when your hard drive either starts to slowly deteriorate and malfunction until it finally dies, or when it suddenly just crashes and becomes impossible or almost impossible to access.

Those two kinds of hard drive failure are quite important to distinguish. If the drive slowly starts deteriorating, you can still backup your files and replace it. If it suddenly dies, it can be impossible to get your data back. Whether it’s completely dead or just extremely unresponsive is also important.
If it’s just unresponsive you might be able to get your data back by connecting it to your computer as a secondary drive and patiently pulling the files you need out of it and into a working drive.
If it’s completely dead you either accept that you’ve lost all your data, or you can take the disk to any technician that does data recovery. Unfortunately data recovery is expensive and will not always get perfect results.

As with everything, there are some home remedies you can try. Those include downloading data recovery software, which with much luck and patience might help you recover your files, or even putting the disk in the freezer! Look up those solutions and well.. good luck!

hard-drive-in-the-freezer

I’ve mentioned SSD drives a few times in the past. What you should know about them when it comes to data recovery, is that when they break down they break down for good. One day they are there and working fine, the next day they are completely gone. It is still possible to do data recovery in some cases, but the disk will most likely break down without warning and give you no time to back up your data the easy way.

There are some signs that can warn you of an incoming hard drive failure.

With regular hard drives, they might start making weird sounds like ticks and buzzes that weren’t there before. In general, if your hard drive starts making noises and you have a desktop computer, you must first ensure that it isn’t just the vibration coming out of it syncing up with the computer case. To make sure that that’s not what’s happening, you need to remove the drive from its bay but leave the wires connected so that you can listen to it while you’re operating your computer.
If you’re on a laptop, it’s highly unlikely that the drive is syncing up with anything. If it’s making noises, it’s most likely broken. Of course it doesn’t hurt to take a look and get the drive out and put it back in to see if the noises stop.

Physical signs like sounds usually happen after you drop the disk or something like that that involves physical damage to it. In most cases, you’ll start seeing problems in performance before you have any physical signs.
If windows takes ages to boot, some programs take ages to open and close, or won’t open at all and there is generally a sense that the computer is operating very sluggishly, first try the troubleshooting I’ve mentioned in my previous posts and if the problems persist, then there is a good chance you have a dying hard disk. You can also take a look at programs that can read some parameters of the disk and give you an estimate on how
well it’s doing. Those can be useful but often do not tell the whole story. There is a chance that your disk will seem completely healthy in the programs but have problems operating properly.

Either way, one of those programs is Hard Disk Sentinel. It is considered to be reliable and will often give valuable information on how a disk is doing.

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However, like I said it doesn’t say the whole story and you might run into a disk that has performance issues but appears perfectly healthy on the program.

If your main hard drive has failed completely, your computer will fail to boot into the operating system and give you a variety of errors, or you will get a message to basically install an operating system on a disk, as if you bought a computer without one.

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To sum up, hard drive health is one of the most important aspects of a properly operating PC. Unfortunately, it is one of the most sensitive components and will often have failures, while all the other components very rarely fail.

Hopefully this guide is going to help you understand a bit more about how to handle hard disk related issues and what to look out for.

If you have any questions, suggestions or even disagreements, please comment them on here and we can talk about them. You can also email me at: kn.angel@yahoo.com

Join the PCForNewbies community on facebook!

Thanks for reading!

*All pictures are taken from the web*

 

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