Hard drives stop working at some point or other. It is a fact of life for anybody who employs a PC. If you amass irreplaceable data on your hard drive, then a malfunction can be a disaster. But can you restore work documents, the family pics, or financial info that you kept as a backup? There may be hope, so do not give up on that crashed device yet.
We are going to tell you about the warning symptoms of a failure of hard drive, clarify about the internal elements of a hard drive, and why they crash, and then we will tell you in detail about how you can recover your data. While the data cannot always be restored, there is a chance you may be capable of retrieving them.
Just keep in mind one thing —even if your data can be recovered, it will take plenty amount of time and may cost you shell some dime, as well. The best method to fix a crashed hard drive is to send it to the manufacturer and restore it with your backup drive that has all your data safely amassed on it.
Why Drives Fail?
A hard drive is a device with various operating elements. Magnetic platters amass the files itself, while a motorized spindle revolves the platters. A write/read arm moves all over the platters, putting down new data or restoring data. The arm is powered by an actuator, and the write/read heads themselves float on a minute distance on top of the platters. The distance is so minute that only a small piece of dust can get along.
If any of the mechanical elements of the hard drive fails, the complete drive will crash. The elements work with incredible accuracy, so hard drives are somewhat fragile. Spindle motors, circuit boards, ball bearings—any of these elements are vulnerable to crash. The worst kind of failure is dubbed as a head crash. In this scenario, the write/read head drops down straight onto the platter and destroys the magnetic substances. The info in that scenario is permanently & totally lost. Data on untouched elements of the platters might be restored, but normally data are distributed all over the platters, so a head crash is a very bad news.
Other mechanical crashes can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a curse since it can be expensive and difficult to get replacement elements and find somebody who can perform the repair. It is a blessing because as long as the platters were not damaged, the info was still present. If you can get the drive operating again, the info must be available.
The crash may be non-mechanical. Your PC employs a file structure and special index to process all the data amassed on the disk. If this index turns out to be corrupted, the PC will not be capable of seeing or reading the data, although it is still present. In many scenarios, this can be mended with the correct software, even though it can be difficult.
There is one last region where a drive can be crashed, and it is specifically dangerous since the drive actually did not fail at all—the connection of the drive to your PC failed. Hard drives link to your PC’s motherboard using a series of IDE, interfaces, SATA, and PATA being the most common. If the circuit on the motherboard that manages the disk (dubbed as the disk controller) or this connection fails, the signs can imitate the signs of a hard drive crash.
Let us have a look at the warning symptoms of an imminent hard drive crash.
Signs Of Hard Drive Crash
All too frequent, hard drives crash with no warning. One moment the PC is operating fine, the next you have all your data gone with “blue screen of death.” So, what do you learn from this? Do not depend on warning symptoms to forecast failure of hard drive. Presume that your hard drive is going to crash and back up important data. If you have a dependable back-up, you will save yourself many troubles.
Some mechanical elements can crash steadily. Hence, occasionally you will know when a drive crash is about to happen. These warnings can be segmented into two parts: performance problems and sounds.
If you invest a lot of time close to your PC, you are probably well aware of the normal sounds it makes. If you listen the hard drive making any strange sounds then that is possibly a hint that something is going to go south. Screeching or grinding noises may indicate that the spindle motor or bearings are failing. A clunking, clicking, or clanging sound can be the write/read arm slamming backward and forward. Sometimes these noises can be difficult and subtle to detect. If you think you are hearing funny sounds, open your PC’s case and listen carefully while somebody else employs the PC to move or save some files.
Performance issues comprise a sudden augmentation in the number of crashes and freeze-ups. Obviously, these kinds of performance issues can be suggestive of any number of computer defects, from memory leaks to viruses to non-drive associated hardware crashes. A more particular tell-tale: moving or saving files suddenly takes a huge amount of time. When you run into any of these signs, back up everything that is not already saved and expect the drive lasts sufficiently long to get everything you require copied to a different drive.
Troubleshooting A Dead Drive
When your drive appears to have failed or crashed, there are some measures you can take to decide where the issue resides. If your PC is operating on Windows, the first thing you must do is restart the PC and go into the BIOS (basic input/output system). Normally you do this by tapping the Delete key at the time of the boot-up sequence. BIOS has a feature that detects drives automatically. Run this and check if the drive appears or not. If it does not, there might be an issue with the connections between the motherboard and the drive. Verify all those connections.
If the drive does appear, then you can run some extra tests for diagnostic. You will require a different functional PC to attain most of these unless you have planned before. Find the manufacturer and model number of your hard drive. Go to the website of the manufacturer and look for the firm’s proprietary software for diagnostic. You will have to install and then burn it to a disk or a flash drive, relying on what the “dead” PC is integrated with. Run the dead PC after booting it from the diagnostic disk. The diagnostics might offer you some sign of what the issue is, even though sometimes it will discover no issues, although the drive is still not operating.
You can also generate a bootable disk for virus scan and scan the crashed drive for any viruses that may be the cause of the issue. If your PC is contains virus, you might be capable to using the scan disk for virus to mend the issue as well.
If all has gone correctly, at this point you might have a rough analysis. You may not know precisely what is wrong, but at least narrowed it down by ruling some stuff out. But what if none of those troubleshooting measures operated? Try linking the drive to a different PC, one that you know operates. This will allow you to know if the issue is actually with the drive or the PC.
In addition to this, open your PC’s case and hear carefully to the drive when you boot up the device. Is it completely silent? This indicates that the platters are not “spinning up,” highlighting a serious mechanical issue. Does it make any of the warning noises we cited previously? Keep in mind that these are also sign of mechanical crash. If it sounds absolutely normal (in general, internal cooling fans activate after a steady hiss while the platters spin—although different devices make different noises), then the issue is possibly not mechanical.
Repair A Hard Drive
If you have determined that your drive has a mechanical issue, you might have some challenges to face. The drive may be fixable and your info retrievable, but it may need an expert, which can cost thousands of bucks. The main reason for this is: work on the interior elements of a hard drive has to be conducted in a “clean” environment. Any particle of dust on the platters can make things go south.
You can try a mechanical mend by yourself, but you will require finding precise replacement elements from the exact version and model of the drive. This can be a huge hurdle all by itself (even for experts for professional data recovery). You may be capable of replacing a dead circuit board on your own, but read/write actuators and spindle motors are very hard to manage. Also, note that unlocking the case of your hard drive will end its warranty. If you do make a decision to choose this path, recall to never touching the platters themselves. The oils from your fingertips are sufficed to make things worse.
An issue with a corrupt disk index or file structure is resolved with special tools. There are some features, such as fdisk, built into most OSs that can be employed for this purpose, but you have to be very cautious. Formatting the drive or altering the partitions in the drive may solve the issue, but you will lose all your files. One more option is to employ a specialized recovery feature such as Disk Warrior to mend the issue while keeping as much of your files as possible. Some corrupted data might not be retrievable.
Extreme Hard Drive Repair
There are some quite odd hard drive repair recommendations floating all over the web. Enough people state that they work and the solutions worth having a look in dire cases. If your drive appears to have a mechanical issue or just an issue you have not been capable of resolving, and you are unable or unwilling to get professional data recovery, you may have one last chance at restoring your files.
Before you attempt any of these methods, make certain you are ready to instantly restore your files. The simplest method is to have the connections in place to reconnect the dead drive to a PC with either a large flash drive or a DVD burner to copy your important data. In addition to this, please keep in mind that these techniques might not operate and might even lead to extra damage to your hard drive. If you have any queries regarding what you’re conducting, it is possibly best to have an expert have a look at your hard drive.
Sometimes the mechanical elements inside a hard drive can get jammed or bound up. A quick physical shock may free things up sufficiently long to retrieve your files. Remember that this is the exact opposite of how you must generally deal with a hard drive, so this is in fact the final option. First, try hitting the drive’s side with a small mallet or handle of a screwdriver. If that does not help, try the drop technique: Hold the drive almost 15.2 centimeters (6 inches) above a hard surface and drop it (make certain the metal chassis is where the drive lands). You may have luck with consecutive drops from somewhat higher levels.
The strangest technique of repairing hard drive needs you to freeze the drive. The cold temperature shrinks specific metal elements and can free up binds or jams. Place the drive in a packed plastic bag and then keep it in the freezer. Reports differ from 24 to a minimum of two hours. It’s worth a try if you have nothing else to lose.
There are some even more harsh methods of repairing a hard drive, but they can only be attained by experts. Some of these methods can restore data from drives that have been damaged by water or melted and burned in fires. Even drives that were affected by floods can have retrievable files on them. The techniques comprise restoring the platters and employing new mechanical elements to read whatever magnetic info is still present on them. This completely has to be performed in a tidy environment, so there is actually no method to perform it in your own house. It is costly, but if you utterly need that data, it might be worth it to try.