Because hard drives are mechanical devices with a variety of moving parts that must be properly aligned, they are prone to failure and data loss. A common problem is that many computer users do not recognize the symptoms of a failing hard drive right away and continue to use their drive, increasing the likelihood of permanent data loss significantly.
Whether you’re a casual user of an office desktop computer or the administrator of a company’s RAID array, you should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of a physical hard drive failure, which include the following:
The majority of hard drive failures are accompanied by new and odd sounds such as whirring or clicking. Our customers frequently comment on the fact that their drives sound like they are going to blow up. If the problem is severe enough, HDDs may also make a clicking sound, seem to be restarting, and then just stop. Any unusual noise generated by a hard drive’s internal components indicates a serious problem with the drive’s internal components, including the drive head and platter. Turn off a hard drive that is making a lot of noise as soon as you can, and you will save yourself a lot of money and hassle.
An error message will typically be displayed on your computer’s screen if your hard drive has stopped functioning properly. When a hard drive fails physically, you may receive error messages such as “file not found,” “code 7,” and “file is corrupt,” although the exact error messages you receive will vary depending on your operating system and the program you are using at the time of the drive failure.
If you are unable to access a critical file for any reason and you do not have a backup, you should contact a data recovery engineer at Hard Drive Recovery Associates as soon as possible. Unless you are absolutely certain that an error message indicates a logical (non-physical) problem, you should never run data recovery software when you have a physical hard drive failure. Additionally, for the best chance of a complete data recovery process, you should consult with a trained data recovery engineer before attempting any data recovery procedures on your own. We cannot understate this – many of the unrecoverable hard drives we see are only unrecoverable because the owner decided he or she was “handy”, and then proceeded to destroy the drive.
Use Hands to Check for Vibration on your Hard Drive
If your computer is unable to recognize your hard drive (the HDD is plugged in, but either the BIOS or operating system does not recognize it), you can use your hands to check whether the platters are spinning and whether the read/write heads are moving back and forth to read information. Before handling any hard drive, make certain that you have properly grounded yourself.
If the drive is not vibrating and you are unable to determine whether or not its internal components are moving normally, there is a good chance that it is encountering either a physical or an electronic problem. It is possible for a drive to stop functioning completely due to spindle failures, PCB failures, and other issues. Additionally, some drives are equipped with fail safes, which prevent them from operating after a read/write head failure. Drives with these kind of fail safes are excellent because they end up preserving your drives mechanical parts, making the drive far easier to image.
Hard Drive “Stink” – As strange as it may seem, many of our customers have reported smelling something strange coming from their computers’ hard drives. If an electronics board overheats, the smell of burning electrical components or melting solder may emanate from the circuit board, and will be quite noticeable.
Usually, strange odors have something to do with electronics and do not indicate a problem with the platters. Due to the fact that hard drives are equipped with miniature filters that prevent any particles from escaping the drive enclosure, hard drive heads and platters cannot produce odors. No matter how you look at it, a “stinky” hard drive should be powered down immediately.
Always remember to take precautions. If you suspect that your hard drive is failing or that it is experiencing a physical hard drive failure problem, turn it off. Contact a reputable data recovery company like Hard Drive Recovery Associates right away.
Mechanical hard drives typically spin at a rate of 5400-7200 RPM, so even if a drive is operational for only a few seconds after a failure, it can sustain permanent damage very quickly if not properly maintained. Call us today for a free evaluation of your failed hard drive.