Hard Drive Failure & Data Loss: Everything You Need to Know

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Hard drives are largely responsible for storing your data – that’s why you’ll normally hear them described in terms of gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB). If you take your hard drive out of its device, you remove most of what was stored on that device. If the hard drive is damaged, that data is probably lost for good.

How and Why Do Hard Drives Fail?

Unfortunately, hard drives fail every day. In fact, research shows that around 140,000 hard drives crash each week in the United States alone. 60% of the time, that was due to mechanical failure. A hard disk has moving parts, so it can fail as parts are worn out over time. Hard drives can fail thanks to overheating, water damage, power cuts or surges, or simply from being dropped.

Hard drives can also be damaged due to a problem with internal software. Vital files or software may be corrupted, or drive read instability can prevent users from accessing the data stored within. Human error also comes into the picture. Tampering with or accidently deleting key files can cause a hard drive to fail, as can improper formatting. This is why your hard drives should only be formatted by a professional.

How Can You Tell a Hard Drive is About to Fail?

Some hard drive failures occur out of nowhere, especially if human error was the root cause. However, you’ll normally find them showing symptoms of failure. When you recognise any signs of hard drive problems, you need to either arrange a replacement or contact IT support.

Tell-tale signs of a failing hard drive include:

  • Odd noises, such as grinding or screeching, while your device is running.
  • Abnormally hot computer temperature
  • Frequent screen freezes
  • Files that fail to open or suddenly disappear
  • Slow performance
  • Frequent crashes

If you ignore these signs, you could end up with a broken hard drive before you’ve had a chance to back up your data, so make sure you take action without delay.


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