How to Tell if Your Hard Drive is Starting to Die

Early signs of hard drive failureThe days of stone chisels, papyrus, feather quills, and filing cabinets are long gone. The face of digital storage is changing every day.  Society loves the convenience that computers offer to keep their news, their friends, and information at the tips of their fingers.

While technology has helped immensely in cutting down clutter and expediting transfers, it still has a long way to go in securing data from total loss.

Although things keep getting smaller in size and larger in capacity, there’s still a ton of people that have those big clunkers.  The computers that have a hard drive like the one you see in the picture here- and those hard drives die.

Usually when you least expect (or want) them to.  On average, most hard drives last about 4 years. This is an extremely short time to store data, especially time-sensitive and confidential records. If luck plays a role in salvaging data, then the hard drive will start to fail gradually.

If it crashes abruptly without hope for a recovery, then all of the stored data on the hard drive may be lost forever.   Are you past that 4 year point? WAY past it?  No big deal.  I’ve had hard dives last for 10 years. But here’s some ways to tell if you’re on the brink of a failure, and if you should implement an emergency backup plan.

Early Warning Signs of Hard Drive Failure

Blue screen of death

One of the most telling signs of hard drive failure is system slowdown and the “blue screen of death.”

Blue Screen of Death- hard drive failure

Is your hard drive dying? The dreaded blue screen of death.

While there are a million different things that can cause these symptoms, simply coming across one of them should give reason for concern.

In fact, if any of these symptoms persist after you re-install your system or while you’re in Windows Safe Mode, then it is almost certainly related to a hard drive about to fail.


Corrupted Files on your Hard Drive

Corrupted files may also be a sign of gradual hard drive failure. Corrupted files are documents that fail to open or go missing.  You’ll see errors like this:

corrupt file error crm_corrupt_file






If you continue to see these errors, or they increase in frequency, there’s a good chance you’re about to have a hard drive failure.

Bad Sectors

Bad sectors, or areas on the hard drive that do maintain data integrity, can also signal eventual hard drive failure. You can check for bad sectors yourself:

  • On Windows 7, click on Start, Computer, Properties, Tools, and Check now in the Check Disk window. Check the Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for an attempt of bad sectors. This will help identify current errors not found automatically by Windows updates.

Experienced computer users can also check for bad sectors via the “chkdsk” command prompt, but try the steps mentioned above and do your homework first.

‘Click of Death’

Man- there’s a lot of death related to these things isn’t there?  That’s a telltale sign you’re in trouble.  The next sign of hard drive failure include strange sounds coming from the hard drive, such as the “click of death,”  as you can see (or more specifically hear) in this video.

This is a very detailed explanation WHY it’s failing, but if you hear it, and don’t have a backup…

Despite all of these indicators, hard drive failure can be completely unpredictable. As a result, it’s very important to create backups of important data on a second hard drive, a thumb drive, or an external hard drive. The chances of multiple drives failing at the same exact time are rare, (unless there’s a natural disaster).

To safeguard against natural disasters, one must relocate their hard drives to a different physical location. Ideal locations may be a friend’s house or on a remote server.

The only way to gain certainty is to save data on a variety of disks to keep it safe. Do not wait until the last minute when a software program sounds the alarm. Stop trying to forecast data meltdown and rely on backups! This will remove the headache of hiring professionals to recover data from dead hard drives.

It’s A Virus- Right?

Many computer users choose to store their personal documents on the hard drive itself. In fact, many people rely on their hard drives to safeguard personal information. The average computer user believes that their computer’s hard drive will work perfectly fine as long as it doesn’t get infected with viruses.

This may be true for stationary hard drives with minimal exposure to temperature fluctuation, humidity, particulates, and liquids. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case, especially for hard drives in portable devices.

Therefore, it is imperative to always back up important files to act as a safeguard against crashes. It is also important to know what signs to look for when the hard drive starts to fail.

Don’t Wait. Have a Backup System Implemented- and Use It!

You should always have a backup of your data. If you don’t, and fear that your drive doesn’t have a lot of life left, then time is of the essence. Create a backup of the data immediately, then store it on a secondary drive or upload it to a cloud storage service.

If you don’t have something for your business but are looking for a solution, we have professionals that can guide you to the service that might work best for you or your business.  Record Nations has several options at your disposal:

  • Cloud Storage – Online storage of records. This is commonly known as cloud storage or cloud backup. Your documents can be maintained on our servers to prevent the need to maintain your own server farm.
  • Disaster Data Recovery – Good practice for data recovery mandates that you keep a copy of your data in a secondary location. Your data can be backed up on physical media and taken to our media vault or it may be saved using a cloud backup service.
  • Hard Drive Recovery Services – Get a quote on recovering your data from a damaged, accidentally erased, or virus-ridden hard drive.

Any of these options will help keep you protected from an unexpected failure- don’t wait until it happens to make a change!

If you have more questions, fill out the form to the right or just give us a call at (866) 385-3706.  Our experts will help you find a service that fits your needs.