Your Worst Computer Nightmare – Hard Drive Failure

Too often, we have to tell clients that, unfortunately, we’re unable to recover their pictures and files from a failed hard drive. Although, our data recovery success rate is around 80% and, with our cleanroom partners in the Charlotte area, that number is closer to 97%, any time one of our clients has unrecoverable data is too often.

The hard disk drive in your computer can be liken to the filing cabinet or security box in your home or office. Everything of value is in there. When access to that container is preempted, panic can set it. Pictures, files, important documents, almost everything has become digitized. The days of mom’s photo albums sitting on the shelf in the den are behind us. Most people take pictures on their phones or digital cameras and those pictures are rarely changed out of their digitized formats. Most documents, too, remain digitized and are attached to emails to be shared.

Most data loss can be avoided with a little common sense and planning. We all know that we need to have backups but, rarely, are we diligent in creating, maintaining, or properly storing them. It is also important to know the warning signs of a failing hard drive. Hard drives almost never experience catastrophic failure without demonstrating tell-tale signs of the impending doom.

Being a mechanical device, every hard disk drive will inevitably fail. The wear and tear on bearings, motors, and read/write heads over time causes these components to deteriorate. If you’re hearing grinding, clicking, or squealing coming from your computer, it is likely that your hard drive is in danger of a mechanical failure.

Another part of the hard drive is the electronic portion. The logic board, the controllers, the solid state components too can fail. If you encounter files that disappear, boot times that seem to take forever, a computer that freezes when opening or closing documents, or crashes and lockups, you may be experiencing a logic failure on your hard drive. While these are also symptoms of a virus infection, it’s a good time to make sure that backup is done in case it is an impending hard drive failure.

Heat, liquids and sudden shock can damage your hard disk drive as well. While liquids and sudden shock damages are not necessarily predictable, preventing these can be as easy as exercising common sense. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your computer, be careful when moving your system – it is best to shut it down before attempting to move it – and to prevent your laptop from falling, be careful where you stretch your power cord and avoid walkways or traffic areas. Heat tends to do damage over time. Make sure your system is adequately ventilated and that cooling system fans are not clogged or blocked. If your laptop is too hot to touch, damage is being done, not only to the hard drive, but other components as well.

Lastly, viruses can cause data lose on your hard drive by deleting, corrupting, or, as is becoming more and more common, encrypting your files. Sometimes recovering these damaged files is fairly simple but, at other times, it can be nearly impossible, as is the case with encrypted files. The best preventive option in the case of viruses is a properly created, properly maintained, and properly stored backup. Online backups can also be a valuable option – we offer these services through our partners at Carroll-Net.

Your hard disk drive will fail. Just last month, it was reported that the United States Air Force lost a decade of data because of a crash. What’s important is what you have done preventively, your attentiveness to the warning signs, and the steps you take when you anticipate an impending failure. In reality, data recovery can be difficult – that’s why CET and our partners exist – but it’s much easier and less likely to cause panic when you plan, remain vigilant, and call us earlier rather than later.