How to Recognize a Failing Hard Drive
If a computer were a human being, then the hard drive
would be its brain. The hard drive is a mechanical device that stores all of a computer’s data, such as documents, music and your wedding photos. Just like severe brain damage can lead to the loss of memory amongst other things, a complete hard drive failure can lead to the potential permanent loss of data. To ensure the protection of this valuable information, it is important to be able to recognize when the clock begins ticking on the lifespan of your computer’s hard drive.
What Causes a Hard Drive to Fail?
The hard drive is one of the few mechanical devices that make up the intricate design
of a computer, and like all mechanical devices it has an expiration date. While most hard drives will last between three and five years, it will eventually suffer the same fate as its human operator will, it is going to die. Due to the mechanical nature of a hard drive, eventually it will just wear out as parts stop working or become damaged. While natural deaths are common, there are numerous other factors that can cause hard drive failure.
1. Excessive and powerful physical bumps to the machine can cause the read/write heads to become offset from the spindle. This can also be caused by sudden power surges or just normal wear and tear.
2. The spindle can also be damaged from excessive physical force, or can fail as the hard drive’s motor gradually wears down from regular use.
3. Powersurges or the overheating of the computer can cause electronic failures and firmware issues as the hard drive’s printed circuit board becomes damaged. This is known as a logical failure, a category that includes software issues and computer viruses.
The Warning Signs of a Failing Hard Drive
Sometimes initial damage to a hard drive can be so severe that the computer can just up and die without any warning. This can also happen through continued use of a computer that is running on a damaged hard drive that is on its way out. While not much can be done in the case of the former situation, the latter can be avoided by being able to recognize the numerous tell-tale signs that indicate a looming failure.
1. The hard drive will begin to make numerous unusual sounds
such as clicking, clacking and grinding.
2. The computer moves slower than usual or experiences frequent freezes that require rebooting the machine.
3.Frequent crashes causing the computer to reboot itself.
4.The computer fails to boot up.
If your computer is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to immediately backup your data if possible as the doomsday clock is about to strike midnight. If the unusual noises coming from the drive are severe, the machine should be turned off immediately and the drive removed to prevent permanent data loss. Hard drives are incredible sensitive, and should be handled with the utmost care. It should be stored in a safe place and it is recommended that it be wrapped in anti-static plastic or aluminum foil. From this point, there are two roads you can go down. If you were able to back up your data, you can go out, buy a new hard drive and call it a day. However, if you were unable to save your data, the drive will need to be handed over to a specialist for recovery.
Overall, it is important to know your computer and mainly your hard drive inside and out so you can recognize when trouble is on the horizon and avoid being in the unfortunate situation of losing a catastrophic amount of data. Data that will be forever lost like tears in rain.
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