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Telltale Signs Your Hard Drive is Failing

They just don’t make things like they used to. Evidence of this can be seen in everything from wooden 2-by-4s to modern appliances and even computer hard drives. Although the earliest HDs were slow and inefficient, they were built to last. Today’s HDs, especially those used in laptops and mobile devices, typically have a lifespan of less than 10 years.

Given their comparatively limited usage, it’s important to recognize the signs of a failing HD. Not only will this give you the opportunity to backup any critical data, but it might give you the chance to setup a brand new HD and eliminate your system downtime.

Common HD Failures

Modern HDs are subject to numerous hardware failures. Logical failures, which are typically the easiest to repair, usually occur within the electronics of the drive itself or within its firmware. Media failures, which are usually caused by damage to the magnetic platters inside the HD, can occur after a device has been dropped or misused over the course of time. Head failures and other kinds of mechanical failures are also amongst the most common problems seen in modern HDs of today.

The Warning Signs

Excess noise: Today’s hard drives are manufactured to be as quiet as possible. While it still might be possible to hear a low hum if you’re in a quiet room, the noise shouldn’t be enough to overcome any background noise. If you hear a high-pitched whirl or a mechanical grinding noise, it might be time to replace your HD.

Missing or corrupted files: An efficient system is a stable system. Most computers have no problem creating, saving and storing files over a long-term basis. After all, this is one of the primary purposes of digital data. If you find that your files or folders are suddenly going missing, especially after resetting the power, you could be experiencing the beginning stages of HD failure.

Frequent or random system crashes: System crashes and resets aren’t always a result of a failing hard drive, especially if you just installed new software or hardware. If your system has remained unchanged, however, and it starts to experience frequent but random crashes, you might be on the brink of a disk failure.

Decreased system performance: Today’s computers are faster than they’ve ever been. If you have a newer system that is struggling to load applications or browse the Internet, it’s likely due to HD fragmentation. Some amount of fragmentation is normal, and today’s operating systems include built-in software to defrag your computer as necessary. Excess fragmentation, however, can cause other issues that will ultimately cause your HD to fail.

The drive becomes inaccessible or unrecognizable: A system needs to be able to recognize a drive before it’s usable. If you receive a warning that your drive has suddenly become inaccessible or unrecognizable, it’s likely due to a failing drive.

Backing Up Your Files and Replacing the Drive Before It’s Too Late

While this isn’t an all-inclusive list of the warning signs, any of these nuances can clue you into a HD that is about to fail. If you have important data that you want to backup, or if you use your personal computer to make a living, it’s better to recognize these warning signs and act now rather than later.


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