61 comments

Factors that May Cause Hard Disk Failure

By Liz Cornwell 15 February 2009 in Cleanup & Repair

Much like your car, a hard disk is a mechanical device. Most of your computer's other components are purely electronic and can only be damaged by electronic means (such as a power surge). However, hard disks are subject to both electronic and mechanical stresses, which can each cause hard disk problems. Here's a guide to both protecting against hard disk failure, and emergency recovery if hard disk problems have caught you off guard.

Why do hard disks fail?

Because hard disks are mechanical devices, they are subject to wearing out, even if you treat them better than your own children. Around 60% of hard drive failures occur through predictable mechanical failure, with the remaining 40% of failures occurring through misuse. Hard disk failure might occur if any of the following happens:

  • Your computer is bumped or jostled while it is running;
  • The electric motor which allows the platter to spin fails due to bad bearings or other components;
  • The filter on your air intake gets too clogged or the filter isn't working properly;
  • Extreme heat while running causes the electronic circuit board to fail;
  • There is a sudden power failure while the disk is writing.

Types of hard drive failure

There are two main types of hard drive failure - physical and logical.

Physical failures are often due to a failure of the electric motor or the drive itself - the moving parts. They can also happen because of a major head crash (caused by your computer being dropped or jostled while it's running).

Logical failures come from corruption in the file system. If you've accidentally deleted an important registry entry or formatted the drive improperly, or if you have a nasty virus, hard drive problems will occur. The BIOS will recognize the drive, but it won't boot.


Signs of hard drive failure

All computers have problems, but you don't need to panic about hard disk failure unless one or more of the following things are happening:

  • Clicking or grinding noises while running;
  • Files mysteriously disappear. Usually more than once;
  • Locking up during the boot process - hard disk problems are indicated if this happens frequently;
  • The computer often freezes, and when it does you are left without mouse or keyboard input and have to do a hard reset;
  • Standard file processes like saving and opening slow down interminably, even for small files;
  • Increase in the number of bad sectors noted when running chkdsk;
  • You can't speed up computer performance even by applying optimization tricks;
  • You notice that your computer is unusually hot.

Using S.M.A.R.T.

If your hard disk is equipped with S.M.A.R.T. technology (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology), there will be log files that can be checked to predict the probability of failure in the near future. S.M.A.R.T. technology monitors a wide range of hard disk symptoms and logs the condition of the disk. It aims to provide a predictable failure date for the disk.


Can data be restored from a failed hard drive?

Usually it can be. Unfortunately, though, recovering from a failed hard drive isn't as simple as some other computer issues that can be fixed with the help of Google and forums telling you how to speed up your computer. Professional help is definitely recommended.

In order to prevent massive data loss in the case of hard drive failure, install a program that creates a disk image quickly and easily. Use this backup system at least weekly or more often if you're a heavy or business computer user.

Did you like this article?
4234 people rated the article "Factors that May Cause Hard Disk Failure". Article rating: 4.77.

It’s a pity you didn’t like the article

Please tell us what’s wrong with it. Be specific, and we’ll do our best to make the necessary changes

Thanks for reading!

Hey, but don't keep this article a secret - share it with your friends!
Like Us on Facebook!

About the Author

Liz Cornwell Liz Cornwell
PR specialist at Auslogics. Liz can optimize just about any computer.

Discussion

once in a while my computer makes a clicking or grinding noise while running as stated above and also it overheats, as well as freezes quite often. i have a 232GB hard disk size, 1GB RAM and a processor of 1.66GHZ and my computer performance is generally moderate and had a rating of 2.8 when i first bought it besiding it does not run on AC, that is i have to insert the battery if it is to run and two months after purchase i started getting the notice that my battery is either old or broken . i have searched all over the web about battery state and its impact on performance as well as RAM size and have implemented virtually all the support i have come accross to improve my PC. coming accross this article has given me a new perspective. and thank U for that. but does a hard drive also cause a decrease in performance and how to handle it.?please help me..
Asiku
September 1st, 2011 @04:12 am
Reply
0
I was using my laptop/notebook, and my charger was out for a long time and I didnt know, and my computer screen went black, and then after a little while it shut down, and i waited some time for the computer to charge, and it wouldnt turn back on, is this a sign of a hard disk failure? (im using a different laptop then the messed up one )
AJ O
January 22nd, 2012 @09:45 pm
Reply
-1
Hi AJ,

sounds like your laptop is not charging. Could be the hard drive, but I doubt it. I suggest you try checking whether your power adapter works or not.
Liz Cornwell
January 23rd, 2012 @03:53 am
Reply
-3
I was trying to close a document i used, before i could do so my system shutdown due to power outtage. I power the system again but it didnt boot. An error message like; pxe-e61, media test failure,check cable. Pxe-mof exiting intel boot agent. Then insert system disk drive. Press any key
Mike
March 4th, 2012 @04:06 am
Reply
-1
Hi my laptop refuses to go on often.. And until I power it on & off over and over, it would just show a blank screen... Is this also a sign of hard disk failure?
Ayodeji
June 1st, 2012 @07:14 pm
Reply
-1
i dropped my external toshiba ultra portable 1 tb hard drive and i had over 900 gb of stuff on it. im to sceard to try run it again. but what are the possibilitysof geting the info back? i went to a comp guy and he said he can see the files but it will be very costy to get it back. i wana know if he can see the files why cant i just do it myself? the usb doesnt read but the ribbon way sems to work for him so if i get a ribbon and try it will it work or am i waisting my time . and it dropped from a table onto a hard tiles floor it pulled out of the usb and fell to the floor what damage could this cause and how extensive will it be please email me any ideas.
jonathan saunders
June 2nd, 2012 @11:41 pm
Reply
-1
The main problem with my desktop is that it always complains of hard disk error. Though it will recognise the hard disk, but it wil still complain. I tried another hard disk with the system, but stil the same. But these disks were working on another systems. Pls help me out
Femi
July 10th, 2012 @03:10 pm
Reply
0
do not use hard boot. Always turn off your system, whenever power failure. Your 90 % problem of hard disk failure solved. In rest case you can recover your data.
naveen chandra
July 15th, 2012 @05:18 am
Reply
-2
Hi Liz,

I have a problem with my laptop that I bought about 20 months ago. It's a Compaq Presario CQ56-148CA.

The problem is that when I turn the power button on, Windows does not start up but I could hear the fan working, the power led lights up, and the DVD ROM also works. There is a small led light on the Caps Lock key that is blinking as well, but the small led light on the left side panel that usually lights up when the computer is on or starts up is not working at all. Nothing shows up on the screen, not even the Compaq logo.

I tried to open the laptop, cleaned it up, and applied a fresh thermal paste on the cpu because I thought the problem was overheating. When I put everything back together and put it on, the problem was still there with no improvement at all.

Could you please help me figure out what the problem really is, and the possible solutions to fix it?

Thank you very much.
Jose
July 20th, 2012 @12:22 pm
Reply
0
my hard disk doesn't detect DVD's. what should i do? Please help!!!
Abhilash
July 25th, 2012 @05:41 am
Reply
-2
my computer will go to the windows loading screen then refuses to go past there
it was making rattling noises when it was off but not on
caleb cox
August 30th, 2012 @08:02 am
Reply
-1
sometimes when i turn on my laptop, a msg appears which says"missing operating system"...and i have to remove the battery to get my laptop to function normally again...is this a sign of hard disk failure?
rhea
September 1st, 2012 @02:25 pm
Reply
-1
Hi.. Smtimes my laptop sound while starting n also heat up very fast n sometimes get shutdown.. N when i click on any icon on the starting window only the last icon window is open up.. Is this happen because my window is not genuine?
Shally
September 18th, 2012 @10:13 am
Reply
-2
Does massive downloading of torrent files cause hard disk failure. Looking forward to your reply.
samar
September 20th, 2012 @06:58 am
Reply
-4
I have a laptop tp fix for a friend, so he said that it does slow when using the laptop and now it cant boot. so i try running a startup repair it finally happen to boot through my windows 7 cd startup repair option after a long time. but because i was not with the password, i had to restart it and later shut down. now when my friend came, i tried booting the system again it now couldnt boot again so i got confuse and like want to know the possible cause. although the first time i got it boot, i realise that it had to complete its installation of windows components and upgrade which seems like it was doing a thing like that and my friend had to forcely shut it down. i believe this information is clear and i will be glad to receive a working assistance.

Thanks pals..
David
September 25th, 2012 @05:02 pm
Reply
-2
today my laptop showed " internal hard drive not found" ..absolutely silent hard drive but when i put my ear close on the cabinet i hear very minute clicking sounds...could it be a hard drive failure????? i switched off and turned back on and then it worked normally. the hard drive is 320gb seagate
satyabrata
October 1st, 2012 @11:58 am
Reply
-3
i have a failing hard disc and need a new battery. this HP computer is only a year old. i bought the computer in P-rico, and recently bought a 2 year service contract in PR. now HP is telling me that i cant ship my computer from PR and they wont ship it back to PR. i am angry!
i dont know if i sd shut it down and hope it will restart when i want to use the computer again, or just leave it on cuz it may never start up again. i think HP service is terrible if u live in PR. a case manager is supposed to call me........ i guess i am just venting.
nancy
October 2nd, 2012 @03:39 pm
Reply
-2
my hard disk sometimes work properly and sumtimes it didn't work .... when i click f12 option .. the diagonistics option .. didn't recognise the hard drive .. and error comes like .. 2001:5000 .. sometimes it show me option to repair file .. when i do so .. it repairs it .. and after tht .. my laptop start working ..


kindly please suggest me someway to get rid of this ..is i need to change my hard drive ??

kindly plz suggest the way to get rid of this problem ,,

thanks
arun yadav
October 15th, 2012 @01:44 pm
Reply
-2
i bought my laptop a year ago but now it cant open windows it says disk read error i tried installing windows again but when it has finished copying the file and it needs to restart it shows a message that windows could not go to the next phase. pliz help?
tony
October 18th, 2012 @05:06 am
Reply
-1
My keyboard and mouse freezed so i pressed ups button but now windows does not start and cpu itself closes what to do rrpmm
Manish
October 31st, 2012 @08:10 am
Reply
-3
Data protection is missing.
andrew kentner
December 17th, 2012 @11:59 am
Reply
-3
I have a problem with my laptop that I bought about 20 months ago. It's a Hp

The problem is that when I turn the power button on, Windows does not start up but I could hear the fan working, the power led lights up, and the DVD ROM also works. There is a small led light on the Caps Lock key that is blinking as well, but the small led light on the left side panel that usually lights up when the computer is on or starts up is not working at all. Nothing shows up on the screen, logo is displayed.



Could you please help me figure out what the problem really is, and the possible solutions to fix it?

Thank you very much.
savi
December 23rd, 2012 @11:17 pm
Reply
-5
Hi,

I have a Thinkpad z60m which only work on battery and when the AC is connected it shuts down unexpetedly. i took it to a service man and said that the he doubts on battery, which is not possible and when i took it to the second one i was told that he doubts on the hard disk.
these confuse me!
ilgashi
January 30th, 2013 @09:26 am
Reply
0
my labtop wont boot up problem with hard drive done diognostic test and hard drive failed how could you fix it
chris
February 18th, 2013 @06:56 am
Reply
+1
my labtop wont boot up problem with hard drive done diognostic test and hard drive failed how could you fix it
chris
February 18th, 2013 @06:56 am
Reply
0
Hello.

I was on my Inspiron 1545 laptop and after I updated something and rebooted, the computer was running VERY slowly. Anytime I would open something like steam (I've had if for a long while and nothing like this happened.) or chrome, it takes a long time to load and in several occasions freezes up the entire pc, and I've gotten the blue screen 2 times. Just now, I attempted to use chrome and I start smelling and seeing smoke. I quickly turned off the computer. The system earlier said that in the near future hard drive failure is possible. I also have a slightly frayed charger, so what caused this? The charger, pc, or hard drive? Has my hard drive become a toaster? Did it wear out? It couldn't have had a head crash since there was no odd noises at all. Sorry this was a lot longer then I wanted. Please reply.

P.S we got this laptop in 2009, so I'm not sure about the year.
Ezechiel
February 22nd, 2013 @06:55 pm
Reply
0
i bought a new sony vaio SVE15115 fxs laptop, and i've changed the HDD twice in 2 months.
what might probably be the cause?
The machine got frozen, i tried to restart and it couldn't detect the hard drive again, both in the bios as well.
i tried it on a different machine and it still couldn't detect it.
on all the 2 occasions.
msge displayed: operating system not found
immanuel
February 26th, 2013 @07:13 pm
Reply
0
when I open my laptop ,it indicate warning message that say "BACKUP YUOR DOCUMENT " B/c your hard disk is fail.
shiferaw Telila
March 5th, 2013 @09:01 am
Reply
0
What are the common causes of hard drive failures in a data center set up?
How would vibration affect the hard drives and what level of vibration would cause a hard drive to fail?

I have come across a data center where the client is loosing hard drives and is blaming this loss on the vibration of In-row coolers in the aisle. Can this be tested to be true. How do we prove that it is not vibration if so.

Your opinion or assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Preggy Naidoo
April 8th, 2013 @03:08 pm
Reply
0
I am system service engg (training).my relative lap hard disk problem .then boot problem problem occurd. Now board was damage. And melt .why was happen. Tell me mail me. If It was happend ay power problem or battery problem. Mail me
Babu
April 18th, 2013 @02:43 pm
Reply
0
This is a good article for this specific topic.
Computer data corruption situation is normally a problem for the end user.
So as to resolve this problem, the experts have launched a lot of data restoration solutions.
If there is a data loss situation, an individual really should have an awareness of appropriate important information retrieval application.
data recovery tool
Monte Lacey
April 19th, 2013 @08:12 am
Reply
-2
hi, please help my hard drive doesnt wana open "E: is unreadable and corrupt" what might be the cause and what is the solution
simphiwe
May 6th, 2013 @08:34 am
Reply
-1
try an external monitor booting up
brian
May 16th, 2013 @12:36 pm
Reply
0
evn aftr buyng a new hdd, my cpu is unable to detct it. nothng is being shown on monitr and lights r nt glowing in mouse n keyboard. plz hlp me diagnose the problem
rKESH
June 3rd, 2013 @09:56 am
Reply
0
I recently received a "a disk error has occurred press ctrl+alt+del to restart" error. Could this be considered a sign? It only happened once and I have no other signs but it's still rather worrying... Dx
Dolan
June 7th, 2013 @09:45 am
Reply
0
What would cause a HDD to delete all of its data showing a clean drive?

WD and Seagate, Internal as well as External, 500 GB and 1TB, about 10 in all

2009 till now, The last 1 TB WD bought this spring 2013.
I was trying to store pictures and music on these drives.
I run win 7 x64, on brand new x79 (this spring 2013), I tried ASUS currently on GIGabyte Motherboard, changed sata cables.
Still with the same outcome, I start putting files on the HDDs it allows me to do this for a few hours, Then deletes all of the files (Clean HDD). I am at a loss as to what could be doing this
I have reinstalled windows, checked drivers (could it be Windows 7?) Brand new Seasonic power supply 1250 X

No Event logs, no SMART Errors. No Errors from manufacturers Diagnostic tools.
R Pilgrim
June 23rd, 2013 @08:57 pm
Reply
0
I have an ACER Aspire 5741 i5 series laptop which I had bought in Saudi Arabia in Dec 2010. Last night while chatting over Skype a message flashed by MS indicating severe hard disk problem and that I need to back up my files. Ignored this msg n continued with my conversation. After a while I shut down the laptop n restarted it. The laptop started but asked to insert d boot-up disc which I do not have.
Is there a possibility that my hard drive has become corrupt? My grand daughter has also been playing a lot of online games too. Is it due to some virus that might have got in.
Your valued advice will be highly appreciated.
Mehfooz Ahmed
July 16th, 2013 @03:47 am
Reply
0
Pls whenever my laptop is losing it'll report save to file disk not found and when it displays the windows 98 icon it won't move to another page it'll be stagnant on that page.
Please what can be responsible for this and how can I resolve the problem please mail me the causes and remedies thanks.
Muhammad
July 16th, 2013 @06:24 am
Reply
0
Pls whenever my laptop is loading it'll report save to file disk not found and when it displays the windows 98 icon it won't move to another page it'll be stagnant on that page.
Please what can be responsible for this and how can I resolve the problem please mail me the causes and remedies thanks.
Muhammad
July 16th, 2013 @06:33 am
Reply
0
I would like know if external hepa motor sound high around 77dbl, it is can cause disk crash while testing in manufacturing side..pls advice
Ganesh
July 22nd, 2013 @12:26 pm
Reply
0
I would like to know what is the acceptable noise level in clean room protocol
in harddisk factory(test area)
G
July 22nd, 2013 @12:29 pm
Reply
0
Please my own complians abt harddisk is dat!when i try 2 format to window xp from window 7, it tells me harddisk not found. pls whats d possible solution.
Everblazing
July 31st, 2013 @01:02 pm
Reply
0
hi liz, my laptop fell and them it showed that there was no hard drive found. after while i restarted my computer and it started the recovery process on its own. however whenever i start up my laptop it says that there is a smart hard drive failure, but it also gives me the option to start the laptop normally. What is up with that and how do i fix the failure. Thanks so much.
Jackie C.
August 14th, 2013 @12:14 pm
Reply
0
my computer get restarted and the screen turn blue what is the reason behind it please reply...
junaid khan
August 16th, 2013 @12:15 am
Reply
0
I have an Hp lap top last month its kee board and hard disk complaint and it has been replaced ,but till the same problem persist .Please advice what is the solution.
Bijoy
August 20th, 2013 @10:47 am
Reply
0
Mike, Didn't Liz answer u back? Needless to say I got the same problem. When I pressed REPLY, I thought I will find Liz answer; instead, it prompted LEAVE A COMMENT. That got me at least 5 mn. Of good laugh...
Naji Braidi
August 22nd, 2013 @04:20 pm
Reply
0
Abhilash,
May be,virus is running into your computer,scan your computer using power full virus guard!
Dinuka
August 25th, 2013 @05:56 am
Reply
0
I have an old HP desk top with Windows XP pro installed. I accidentally started watching a DVD while disc cleaning was taking place and crashed my hard drive. I've tried all start up options in safe mode, safe mode with command prompt, last configuration and the computer only tries to reboot with a one beep fatal error code every time.The windows XP OS does not include WinRe installed, so I've concluded I need to re-install windows. This computer was a gift from a family member and I don't have the licensing key to re-install without purchase of a new OS. Here are my questions: How seriously have I damaged this computer? Is data recovery possible if not backed up? Is there any other options to restoring the OS without buying a new version of windows, plus I'm not sure if this computer meets the criteria limitations to run Windows 7 so would it be in my interest to just re-install XP?
Aaron Jackson
September 7th, 2013 @08:30 am
Reply
0
This is a very informative and useful article, I currently own and operate a data recovery business so I know how nerve wrecking it can be to lose files from a hard drive or deal with a situation when your hard drive stops working normally.
Ronnie J
September 8th, 2013 @07:40 pm
Reply
0
Hi,
my hard disk is just 3 months old and two of the symptoms listed above happen frequently the symptoms are
1. noise while my pc is running (i hear the noise only 2-3 times a week).
2. it often freezes but my mouse works and i am also able to move my cursor but can't click anything but after 15 seconds it resumes.
please tell me if my hard disk is defected or if i need to repair it or replace it.
waiting for reply............................
Pragyan
September 14th, 2013 @01:20 pm
Reply
+2
hi i recently dropped by 1tera hard disk drive and i connected it to my laptop it worked well but a frnd wanted some programes so i copied some for on his machine after my hard disk has become soo slow when i try to delete some files it doesnt work. i ve tried using unlocker but still even scanned it for virus with windows defender and there was no virus.. is there something else i can do???
randy
September 18th, 2013 @07:09 am
Reply
0
Hello i a: using hp laptop....and it not accpting any window that is 7 or 8 ....it not process forword after reaching set up setting..i saw it to a shop they tell that its hard drive are failed or damaged so you have to get a new hard drive......what is the real problem? And how much money wil be on this problem?....please reply
vikram
September 18th, 2013 @08:10 am
Reply
0
hi i have an old xp computer and the hd is detected in the bios buy when booting it says primary hd 0 failure but it will boot from cd via windows xp install it is seen in install two but is says cannot acsess this disk please help this pc is my HOME SEVER FOR MEDIA AND WINDOWS INSTALLS it is really needed right now because i need to upgrade windows 7 to 8 please help
garrett
September 26th, 2013 @08:21 pm
Reply
0
randy, by slow you mean

a.it is slow being acessed by the computer

b. slow installing programs

c. slow turning on

d. slow being detected in my computer

please tell me a,b,c,d on these if none of these are right write your custom answer
garretttechcomputers
September 26th, 2013 @08:27 pm
Reply
0
Pragyan, i it a grinding noise like like metal on a grinding wheel if it is lay it on its side for aa week thats how i fixed my problems
garretttechcomputers
September 26th, 2013 @08:30 pm
Reply
0
i have had 2 hard drive failures in a 3 day period, I put another hard drive in and reloaded win 7, worked great for 3 days, now same message as last (no partition or operating system to boot from) sounds to me like something else, any ideas would be appreciated. Operating system is windows 7 Pro, Phenom 2 quad core processor, 8 gigs ram asrock mother board, any one else have this problem?
Kevin Maher
November 11th, 2013 @01:09 pm
Reply
0
I had a hard drive failure on my school laptop (the reboot machine page kept coming up) and I took it to the tech room to see if the guys that work there (they're job is pretty much dealing with anything to do with computers) and they said all my work was lost. All my assignment I had been working on and all my notes were gone. He was very rude and when asked if there was any way to recover it, he just replyed with 'it's gone!' I was just wondering if there, In fact, was something he could've done.
Vivian
November 19th, 2013 @01:09 am
Reply
0
Nce tip, I like it thanks!
Guta Neme
January 24th, 2014 @01:59 am
Reply
0
What Causes Hard Drive Failure?
What Causes Hard Drive Failure?
February 10th, 2014 @01:57 am
Reply
0
Asiku,

I am only 16 years old but I know a lot about computers, and I have to tell you (no offense intended) your computer is poo. You probably are having hard drive failure, but I would also recommend upgrading your computer if your circumstances will allow it. I would recommend a 3.5GHz intel core I7 3770K processor. The better your processor the more powerful your computer. I would also recommend upgrading to a bare minimum of 2 GB (gigabytes) of RAM (Random Access Memory). 4 GB of Ram would be preferable, but may not be possible, depending on your individual PC. Most laptops are capable of upgrading these things, and all desktops will be capable.
Also if you can afford it I would recommend upgrading to a larger hardrive of 450-800 GB. Or you could consider purchasing an external hardrive which is like an ultra-powerful flash-drive. Upgrading your hardrive is not as necessary as the other upgrades but may be a good idea.
respond to this if you have any more questions
Sincerely
Roger Lackman
Roger Lackman
May 30th, 2014 @03:12 pm
Reply
0
Thanks!
Bob
August 25th, 2014 @04:02 am
Reply
0

Leave a comment





Fields marked with * are required.
Please note: All comments will be moderated.

BoostSpeed 7 has been released! It is better equipped than ever to fight PC slowdown and help you get that new PC feel back. Download Now Learn more