Damaged Hard Drive: Causes, Indicators and Preventive Measures
A damaged hard drive is difficult to detect even by advanced computer users. The proliferation of viruses in the internet adds more to the confusion because infections caused by viruses appear to mimic a damaged hard drive. For this reason, it is good sense that computer users back up important data whenever they can.
Causes of a Damaged Hard Drive
How can an ordinary computer user find out if the computer has a damaged hard drive? What are the circumstances that may cause irreparable hard drive damage? Here is a list of some identified causes:
- Frequent brownouts. Sudden electrical surges can cause the sensitive integrated circuits of the hard drive to burn. The hard drive reader will suddenly stop on its tracks while reading and writing data on the platter of the hard drive.
- Defective electronic regulators. Cheap electronic regulators will do more harm than good to the computer’s hard drive. Efficient hard drive functioning depends on well-modulated flow of electricity which electronic regulators should be able to supply.
- Accidentally dropping the laptop or desktop during transport. Mechanical damage in the internal, moving components of the hard drive due to the sudden impact sustained by a moving computer will damage the hard drive.
- Computer overuse in poorly ventilated workplace. Using the computer for hours on end will cause a damaged hard drive due to heat build-up that fries the sensitive electrical circuits.
- Fire. When a computer is subjected to heat, the sensitive integrated circuits will expand and cause short-circuits. The life of a hard drive depends on the maintenance of an optimum temperature range to efficiently operate. This is the reason why heat exhaust fans are installed in laptops and desktops.
- Computer virus infections. Although many of the computer viruses nowadays corrupt the data in the hard drive, it is theoretically possible that a virus can damage the hard drive by allowing a greater amount of voltage like overclocking the computer processor (see how to quickly recover from a virus infection). Voltage discrepancies can damage the hard drive.
- Old hard drives. Aging of hard drives is inevitable. Due to normal wear and tear, the hard drive will eventually incur damage after about two or more years of operation.
Indicators of Damaged Hard Drive
The obvious indicators of a damaged hard drive are the following:
- A clicking sound is produced by the computer
- Despite a good electrical connection, the computer will not boot up
- The hard drive light indicator (usually marked with a cylindrical figure) does not blink once in a while
- Upon boot up, smoke comes out of the hard drive (Fig. 1)
Fig. 1. Burnt hard drive (Image Source).
The not so obvious signs of damaged hard drive are the following:
- The computer suddenly shuts down and will not boot up
- The computer boots up but a lot slower than usual (you might want to try regaining its speed using these 10 simple tips)
- The computer files are no longer accessible
- The computer just hangs out there doing nothing despite hitting the keys
- The computer says it cannot detect the hard drive
- Bad sectors show up when the hard drive is scanned
For seriously damaged hard drives, there may no longer be sensible solutions to recover precious data. While software remedies like HDD Regenerator that promises to restore a damaged hard drive (those that get damaged due to electrical surges), preventive measures are desired. Here are preventive measures that will prevent loss of data due to a damaged hard drive.
- Backup your important files regularly in a storage media. The best way to back up a hard drive is to have separate storage media to keep your important files. You may want to save your files in an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, or a DVD. Make your backup redundant, that is, save your files in at least two types of storage media.
- Back up your files using external servers. It is possible to back up your important files by uploading those files in the following ways:
o e-mail as an attachment
o as saved files in your website
o saved in free websites that offer free hosting of large files like 4shared.com or xdrive.com, or
o save or create your files using Google docs.
These are external servers that assure your files are intact even if your computer is plagued with viruses, or even totally damaged. You just have to ensure a good internet connection to access your files.
- Regularly replace your hard drive. Inexpensive hard drives normally last two years although some manufacturers provide warranty even for three or more years. Your files are much more valuable than the disposable hard drive. Take the cue of airline maintenance. Parts are changed when half of its life transpired (see 7 tips on how to make your computer last longer). Better safe than sorry.
Damaged hard drive happens unexpectedly. Taking preventive measures and employing regular computer maintenance will spare you of the headache and the frustration of losing important data and files that may be critical in your work or impact on the quality of your life.
©Patrick A. Regoniel 27 November 2010 Hard Drive Damage: Causes, Indicators and Preventive Measures