Hard-disk drive is the main storage device of the computer which contains a few moving parts and if, for some reason, any of them goes down, the whole drive could suffer the damage. It’s the most fragile part of the whole computer system.

As we are talking here about our storage for documents, pictures, videos and many other important files, it’s not surprise that people panic when something goes wrong with it. Can you recover data ones the hard drive is dead and you haven’t made a backup? Or is it too late?

It is obviously you have a crisis situation to deal with, and it is not the time to sorrow now. Yes, you should have made that backup, but you haven’t and now you can only try to repair the damage. It is important to react really fast and advisedly.

How can we recognize that the problem is on the hard drive?

There are many signs which could warn you that your hard drive is reaching its end and you shouldn’t neglect them. Truth, all those signs could be warning for a bunch of other problems, but the point is in drawing attention.
In case you haven’t already made a backup, you should make one as soon as you notice one of this problems:

  • strange sounds from your hard drive
  • folders and files disappearing
  • long time needed to access folders and files
  • corrupted data – fail to open despite the fact they were correctly saved
  • scrambled file and folder names
  • Frequent and cryptic error messages during activities like moving files
  • Frequent crashes while booting up Windows

Even those signs may warn of some other problems, backup is always a good idea. Although, you shouldn’t rely on those signs to predict hard drive crash. Often hard drives fail without warning, so in one minute you work normally on your computer and in next you can face “blue screen of death”.

What are the main reasons for the hard drives crash?

As we earlier said, there are many reasons that can cause hard drives damage but all can be divided into two main groups: logical and mechanical (hard drive) failure.

data recovery questions

Logical damage includes:

  • track servo information error – it means that servo information of a certain physical track is damaged and the track can’t be accessed
  • system information area error – it happens when hard drive system information area can’t read data in some of the modules
  • sector logical error – warns that some sectors will become invalid and the main reason could be bad block mark error, verification error, address information error etc.

Mechanical (hard drive) failure:

  • head component damage – when damage has been done on one part of the magnetic head component
  • control circuit damage – it refers to some broken parts of the circuit line in the hard drive electronic circuit board
  • comprehensive damage – some minor changes like high temperature during using can cause many problems on the hard drive
  • physical bad track – physical damage on hard drive surface which could be caused by magnetic head friction or some other reasons.

Can we fix it by ourselves?

There are few tests you can run to find out more about broken hard drive. First, if our computer is running Windows, you should reboot the computer and go to BIOS by pressing the Delete key during the boot-up sequence. If the drive doesn’t show up it could be a problem with connections on relation drive – motherboard. But if the drive does show up, you should do more tests. Of course, you will need another functional computer for that action.

Next step is to find out manufacturer and model of our hard drive, so you could find the compatible diagnostic software and download it. Then you have to boot the damaged computer from the diagnostic disk and run it. This process should indicate where the problem is.

Also, you can create a bootable virus scan disk in order to scan the dead drive for viruses that may cause the problem. Until this moment you should already have some rough diagnosis. But what if none of these worked? You should try to connect the drive to another computer and see if the problem is really in the hard drive.

When is time to hire the professionals?

Here is one more test you could take. Open the computer case and listen when booting up, if it is silent you can conclude the platters aren’t “spinning up”, which indicates a mechanical problem.

When you are faced with the mechanical problem on the hard drive, you can try to fix it on your own but that means finding replacement parts from the exact model of the drive and sometimes that is not simple as it seems. There are some parts you might be able to replace on your own like a dead circuit board, but some parts like spindle motors or read/write actuators could be a problem and it is maybe better to leave them to professionals.   

You might have heard of some extreme method for hard drive recovery you can find on the Internet like sharp physical shock, freezing the drive, which should be a last resort when you have nothing to lose. Instead of that, we advise you to contact professionals.

What can you expect after you recover the data?

The hard drive is very easy to damage part of the computer, so you have to be extremely careful with solving a problem like this one by yourself. You have to be aware of the fact that maybe it won’t be possible to recover all data. Some of them could be lost forever, and some could be damaged. If you use some of the data recovery programs you have to know that, even if you recover data, they won’t be in the same condition they were before recovering. Recovered data will be organized by type, and the name of the files will be changed. So, the final result, in the best way, would look something like this: IMG2573.jpeg. It is obvious you will have to rename all recovered files, and that is a huge work to do.

In the end, you will probably agree on this – backup is very important part of our jobs. Do not forget to take one and spare yourself a big trouble.

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