What You Should Do if Your Hard Drive is Broken… A Guide for Beginners
Like it or not, your hard drive is the most important part of a computer. Of course, what makes it very important is not the equipment itself (which tends to be a bottleneck on computer performance) but the data it stores. So if your hard drive fails, and you need access to it, it can become a very stressful situation, very quickly. Your question immediately is: how can I fix this hard drive?” Well, the key to remember is that there are really two different kinds of hard drive breakdowns – a logical (file system) and physical breakdown. The first one may even offer you the ability to restore everything quickly and effectively with just a piece of data recovery software. It’s the second form, a physical or mechanical hard disk meltdown, that ends up being troublesome.
If the hard drive can still be used (when the computer is turned on, you still here a very slight whirring sound that suggests it’s powering up) but you cannot view any data on the drive (in Windows Explorer, as an example), then there is a very good chance that there are some problems with the file system. If this is the case, then you do not need to know how to fix a hard drive. You just may need to consider a well reviewed data recovery software
One of the easiest fixes in this situation tends to be the ‘repair’ option from an older Windows boot disk. If you can use this tool, it’s worth a shot.
The Linux Read
Another tip might be to simply use the Linux operating system installed on another, functioning drive. Naturally, this isn’t a “beginner option”, but it may allow you to back up your hard drive. Often, Linux OS’ can read data from a disk formatted in Windows NTFS format even though its file system is broken or corrupted. If you attempt this, however, and Linux cannot read your data, then the problems might lie somewhere else.
Another idea would be to attempt to connect the drive to another computer. If the drive suddenly functions again, your motherboard could be the culprit, which is fortunate, as a new motherboard is typically a lot cheaper than professional hard drive recovery. If the drive still cannot be recognized, try changing the cables.
Physical Hard Drive Problems
If the above checks are not helping you out, determine whether there are any buzzing or clicking hard drive sounds. They are pretty obvious, and typically signify actual physical breakdown. If you have come this far with your examination, understand that your drive may have a physical problem, which is certainly not fixable by a non-professional.
Warning: There are a number of Youtube videos that suggest you attempt to replace the controller or PCB board. We recommend that if you do not have extensive experience working with electronic devices, you avoid this idea. At Hard Drive Recovery Associates, we have seen hundreds of drives destroyed by amateurs attempting to fix their own hard drives, and 90% of the time, all of the data on those drives is completely unrecoverable.