We’ve all suffered that sinking feeling when our hard drive fails and takes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of critical files and precious memories with it. Of course you know you should back up regularly, but who really does? It might be useful to know that your hard drive often gives you clear signals when it’s going to fail, which at least gives you the chance to get your important data backed up before the scourge of home computing strikes.
Here are some of the most common indicators:
1. Slow-running system, frequent freezes and the blue screen of death.
These are not necessarily signs that your hard drive is failing; it might simply be too full and need clearing out. They are signs that all is not well, though, and you’d be wise to make a back-up and potentially make a fresh install of the system in Safe Mode. Simply put, assume the worst when these intermittent problems start to strike and you won’t be caught out.
2. Corrupted data.
You know you saved the file, it looks like it’s there and yet it just won’t open. Corrupted data and disappearing files are a clear sign of a gradual hard drive failure. So if it starts to happen regularly, it’s time to protect your information. Computer repairs might be possible at this stage, so take action before it’s too late.
3. Accumulation of bad sectors.
Bad sectors don’t maintain data integrity, but unfortunately they are not immediately apparent and you have to go looking for them. The best way is to run regular health checks on your disk, either by using third party software or your own operating system. These checks can save you a great deal of pain down the line, so it’s wise to build them in to a regular maintenance schedule.
4. Unusual noises, especially clicks.
If your hard drive is clicking then this is pretty much your final warning. This is the disk head trying to write and failing to do so. Grinding or high-pitched whines are also clear indicators of hardware failure and could be things like the spindle or bearings giving out.
5. SMART warning.
The operating system has its own Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART). Sadly, you simply cannot always rely on it to accurately predict when the hard drive will fail.