How to Recognize Hard Drive Failure Symptoms before Too Late

Posted by @Cody

September 22, 2017

Nothing lasts forever, and hard drives are no exception. To avoid data loss, you should know the hard drive failure symptoms and take precautions.

Why Should you care about the hard drive failure symptoms?

No matter how gentle you are to your hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), it will eventually fail. The average lifespan of a hard drive is 5 to 10 years, so it is a matter of time that you will face your hard drive failure.

You likely save your personal documents, photos, videos, operating system and other valuable files on hard drives. If you are lucky, the hard drive fails gradually and give you a sign to react, so you have the chance to transfer your data to another storage device.

If you ignore or unaware it, you will lose all that when your hard drive is completely dead. You worry about your hard drive’s remaining lifespan, you should read this article to recognize an approaching hard disk failure.

Hard drive failure causes

Unlike any other hardware components in your computers, regular hard drives have moving parts. As time goes on, those moving parts will run into problems and eventually fails.

Besides the hard drive itself, software factor can also cause a hard drive failure. A malware virus or other corruption can encrypt all your files saved in the hard drive. As you may know, many files have been encrypted by ransomware WannaCry. 

Signs of hard drive failure

Computer running slow

If your computer often freezes and take a really long time to open folders and files, that’s probably because of your hard drive. However, this issue can be caused by many things. If you see symptoms after a clean installation or in Safe Mode, that’s most likely because your hard drive is failing.

Blue Screen of Death

Both hardware failure and software errors can cause Blue screen of death (BSOD). If you also noticed that some files and folders disappeared, then you should consider if your hard drive is failing. A dying hard drive can cause corrupted files, and corrupted files can lead to BSOD.

If you are in doubt, you can run check disk command to check and fix error on your hard drive.

To run chkdsk:

1.       In Windows File history, right-click the disk that you want to check and select Properties.

2.       From the Properties window, click Check from the Tools tab.

3.       Your computer will prompt you to restart in order to scan the disk.

Computer failed to start

If your computer frequently crashes, especially at startup, it a big warning sign that your hard drive might go wrong. If it shows hard disk error 301, which means your hard drive is failed or will be failed soon.

With 301 error or primary hard disk error, it is most likely you cannot boot into Windows. There is a small chance that you can still boot into Windows system to backup data out if you reconnect your hard drive. You can also boot your computer from a Linux bootable media to copy all the data out.

Lousy noise coming from hard drive

If you hear clicking or grinding noise coming from your hard drive, that’s strong signal that the read/write head or other components are reaching its end. At this moment, you should clone or backup your hard drive immediately before the data become inaccessible.

If the data is already inaccessible, you should shut down your computer because continued use may damage the hard drive even more and cause data unrecoverable. 

What should you do when your hard drive is failing?

As mentioned no computer hard drive will last forever. When you do face a hard drive failure, you can rely on disk file recovery software or data recovery service, but that will cost you much. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the signs of hard drive failure and take actions before it is too late.

You can either backup your hard drive into an image file or clone to another hard drive. To clone hard drive within Windows is quite simple. You can follow the steps below to backup a failing hard drive.

For the cloning software, AOMEI Backupper Standard is recommended. It is completely free to use for Windows 10/8/7. It allows you to clone large disk to small disk, clone MBR to GPT without the need to converting partition style, clone hard drive with bad sectors.

Step 1: Download and Install this free hard drive cloning software AOMEI Backupper, and Click “Disk Clone” under Clone tab.

Clone Hard Drive before Failing

Step 2: Select the failing hard drive as the Source Disk, and select another drive as the Destination Disk. You can select both local and external hard drive as the destination disk.

Select Source Disk

Step 3: Click “Start Clone” to start the cloning process.

Start Clone

If your system is already failed to boot, you can use this freeware to create a bootable CD/USB disk and then boot from this bootable disk to clone or backup the corrupted hard drive .

It is crucial to backup or clone your hard drive when you see any of the hard drive failure symptoms to avoid data loss. To better protect your data, it is recommended to always backup your hard drive on a regular basis.

Besides cloning, AOMEI Backupper can also be regarded as an extraordinary free backup and restore software.