Showing posts with label Hardware. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hardware. Show all posts

What to Do With a Failing Hard Drive

Posted by Tushar Bedekar

 When a hard drive eventually fails, for the vast majority of end users it can come as a real shock. Panic begins to set in, then you realise you did not back up the vast majority of the files on your hard drive.

Trying to fix it is the natural cause of action, especially if you have important data on it that you would like to access. But the chances are, unless you have some understanding of exactly what causes it or what you’re doing, there’s very little that you can do to fix it.

If you’re fortunate and most of the drive has remained to intact, then the problem could be caused by the printed circuit board (PCB). A damaged PCB is usually caused by a power surge which inadvertently overheats the drive. In situations like this, you can take the drive to a computer technician who can repair it by replacing the PCB with a working one.

However, there are those other circumstances when things can be a little more difficult to gauge what is what.

Determining What Causes the Crash

When you experience a hard drive crash, the first thing you’ll want to do is determine whether or not the crash was logical or physical. This can be quite tricky; though there are some tools that you can use to monitor your drive, letting you know when there may be potential problems with it. If your computer crashes and refuses to boot up, such circumstances can be caused by both physical and logical failure.

If your computer refuses to boot up, and you hear clicking, grinding or whirring sounds, that is a good sign that the cause of the failure is physical. At which point, you’d want to power the system down and consider physical repair solutions.

That said, as I touched on earlier, there are many tools that you can use to predict when your hard drive is going to fail, these tools do that by reading the S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) data that is recorded by the operating system. Unfortunately S.M.A.R.T is known for being quite unreliable when it comes to predicting hard drive failure as the drive failure will usually occur before the S.M.A.R.T warning kicks into action. If you have a hard drive that is working, but you’d like to keep tabs on its health, then there are a number of tools that you can use to do that. So be on the lookout for them.

Logical Hard Drive Failure

Logical failure typically occurs when the hard drive is fine, health wise, but you are unable to access your operating system. There are many different factors that can cause this. A corrupt system drive, a malicious file or human error, all are capable of causing a drive to crash. When you experience a failure on this scale, cloning or imaging the computer will usually not work. Utilising professional data recovery software is your best option, although there is a Check Disk tool that you may want to try (assuming you can boot into Windows).

Accessing this tool is as simple as doing the following:

1. First, boot into your computer with full administrative rights.

2. Then press Windows Key + R, type into the Run Command box and click on OK.

3. When My Computer loads up, right click on your Drive and select Properties.

4. This will load up Hard Drive Properties, from here, click on the Tools Tab, and then click on the Check Now button under Error-checking.

5. When the Check Hard Drive applet appears, tick the box next to automatically fix file system errors and scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors, then click on Start.

One thing you must keep in mind is that, just because you are unable to access the data on a crashed drive, it doesn’t mean the data no longer exists. The option that you choose to take will be determined by how important the data on the drive is to you.

Physical Hard Drive Failure

If the crash of your hard drive was due to a malfunction, there is still a good chance that the data on it is still intact and accessible. The best giveaway for a physical fault is clicking and grinding noises whenever you turn the computer on, never mistaken these sounds for a malfunctioning cooling fan. In most cases the sounds will be relatively loud, however in some other cases you may be required to open up your PC case to hear the sounds.

If you are still able to boot into the operating system while the hard drive is making those noises, it’s possible that you could clone or copy the hard drive, but it will come at a risk. Do not try booting up the computer then using an external hard drive to copy the files from your active faulty drive, as this will stress the drive out even more. Your best solution is to remove the drive altogether and put it in a working computer as a secondary drive and use Data Recovery software to clone or copy its contents.

If you are able to retrieve the data on it, then you’re done. Next thing you’ll need to do is purchase a new hard drive and install your operating system and applications on it. This process can take some time, but is not too difficult. Alternatively, if you were able to clone your drive, you could simply copy the contents of the old drive to your new one. That way you won’t need to reinstall anything, just install the drive as your primary and you’re good to go.


Its best that you do not rely on software or those tell-tell signs to let you know when, if ever, your drive will fail, as it is most likely that it will fail unexpectedly, without any signs or warnings. You’re best option is always to be one step ahead of these incidences, by backing the data up on your computer constantly.



Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website where he writes extensively on failing hard drives and other computer related issues and topics.

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What is a Hard Drive and How it Works

Posted by Tushar Bedekar

What is a Hard Drive:-

Inside a hard rive
Almost all desktop computers as well as laptops have a hard drive inside them, but do you really know what they are? Many people when they hear the word hard drive, think that it refers to the computer as a whole. In reality, though, the hard drive is just one of many different pieces that comprise a computer. The hard drive is one of the most important parts of your computer because it is used as a long-term storage space for your data. What that means, is regardless of whether or not the computer is on, or you lose power, the data will still stay stored on this hard drive keeping it safe. 
A hard drive is an integral part of your computer as your operating system and all your data are typically stored there. In the majority of the situations, if you did not have a working hard drive, or the hard drive malfunctions, you would not be able to boot your computer into the operating system and would get an error. 

How hard drives work:

The very interesting thing is that every one wants to know that how the Hard Drive works and how the data gets stored permanently for a long time even if the power is off.

A hard drive consists of the following:

    hard drive
  • Magnetic platters - Platters are the round plates in the image above. Each platter holds a certain amount of information, so a drive with a lot of storage will have more platters than one with less storage. When information is stored and retrieved from the platters it is done so in concentric circles, called tracks, which are further broken down into segments called sectors.
  • Arm - The arm is the piece sticking out over the platters. The arms will contain read and write heads which are used to read and store the magnetic information onto the platters. Each platter will have its own arm which is used to read and write data off of it.
  • Motor - The motor is used to spin the platters from 4,500 to 15,000 rotations per minute (RPM). The faster the RPM of a drive, the better performance you will achieve from it.
When a the computer wants to retrieve data off of the hard drive, the motor will spin up the platters and the arm will move itself to the appropriate position above the platter where the data is stored. The heads on the arm will detect the magnetic bits on the platters and convert them into the appropriate data that can be used by the computer.Actually these magnetic Bits are also refers to as a magnetic domains which gets align themselves according to the binary zeroes and ones. 
Conversely, when data is sent to the drive, the heads will this time, send magnetic pulses at the platters changing the magnetic properties of the platter, and thus storing your information.
It is important to note, that since the data stored on your hard drive is magnetic, that why the people are supposed to warn that don`t take the magnet near the Hard drive because it may affect the magnetic Data Stored on the Hard Drive. 

Hard Drive Interfaces:-

Hard Drive
A hard drive connects to your computer through a specific type of interface. The interface on your hard drive must match the corresponding interface on your motherboard. If you purchase a new hard drive that has a interface which doesn't matches with the interface of the Mother Board Installed on your Computer, then it will not work in your computer. Basically there are three interfaces that have become the standard for connecting your hard to your computer. Some information about each of these interfaces are below.
  • IDE or ATA - This is currently the most common interface used but is quickly becoming overcome by the newer SATA interface. Hard drives using this type of interface have speeds up to 100 Mbps.
  • SATA - A newer interface that uses less bulky cables and has speeds starting at 150 Mbps for SATA and 300 Mbps for SATA II. Almost all computer manufacturers have started using SATA drives.
  • SCSI - This type of interface is typically used in a business environment for servers. Hard Drives designed for a SCSI interface tend to have a faster RPM which therefore provides better performance.
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