The entirety of your digital life, all of your important documents, all of those vacation pictures, and all those annoying papers you had to write for school – all of them are probably contained in one place, your hard drive. The health and safety of your hard drive should of great concern to you, because if your hard drive dies unexpectedly, you could be facing the complete loss of all your data. If you don’t have a backup copy, this kind of loss can be absolutely devastating because there is frequently no way to get your info back. Therefore, it’s to your benefit to know the signs and symptoms of a failing hard drive. By keeping a vigilant eye on your hard disk, you’ll be able to save your data in the future before it’s too late.
Strange Noises Are a Huge Red Flag
If you’ve been a computer user for any length of time, then you’ve probably become accustomed to all the different sounds that they make. These include everything from the whir of the cooling fans, the sounds of the CD drive reading a disc, and the quiet sound of hard drive spinning up and the drive head reading data from it. All of it sounds very “normal” and none of it is harsh or discordant. If your hard drive has recently begun to make noises that are different from what you’re used to, you’ve probably noticed it immediately, and for good reason. Any unusual noises coming from your hard drive could be an indicator that a serious problem has either already occurred or is on the horizon. Noises that should concern you include any sort of rhythmic tapping or clicking, as if something is stuck and can’t move. If your drive sounds like it’s spinning constantly but your machine is slow, this could also be a warning sign. Back up your data immediately.
Pay Attention to SMART Warnings
SMART stands for “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” and it refers to some software that is included with just about every hard drive available these days. SMART tests your hard drive and analyzes its health according to several metrics, as well as keeping track of any general errors that the drive encounters throughout its operation. There is software available for free download on the Internet as well that performs many of these same functions. Some hard drives even come equipped with an indicator light that will light up when SMART detects a problem. Keep in mind, SMART will not always detect an impending drive failure, and in some cases may not detect any problems at all before a failure. It is not a perfect technology. However, if your system warns you that SMART has detected a fault in your drive, you should consider replacing it immediately.
CRC Errors Might Spell Disaster
Have you ever been moving data from one location to another over a long period of time, only to have it fail at the very last minute with an error window that just says “Cyclic Redundancy Check error”? If so, this could be a cause for alarm. While it may not have happened every time you’ve tried to transfer data, it could mean your drive is going back. A CRC is a check done against data to make sure that no bad information is accidentally introduced during the transfer. If you find that you’re encountering a lot of CRC errors as you try to go about your daily computer operations, that could mean that portions of the drive are going bad. You should immediately test your drive with some SMART software or another utility in order to assess the health of your drive, and whether it needs to be repaired or replaced.
Bad Sectors Are an Early Warning Sign
Bad sectors on your computer’s hard disk might not always be something to worry about, as disk utilities can frequently fix them and prevent them from causing problems. But if you’re finding that you are frequently encountering bad sectors that force repairs from the level of the operating system, you should start worrying about your hard drive. There’s no reason for there to be a continual growth of bad sectors unless your drive is defective in some way. The drive head might not be correctly reading or laying down the data, and this could be a precursor to a catastrophic drive failure. Take proactive steps and test the health of your hard drive if you’re getting lots of sector errors, and be prepared to have to replace the drive.