10 Ways to Spot a Failing Hard Drive

1. BSOD 0X00ED

Blue Screen Of Death. The affectionate term for the STOP error message that can happen with computers. If you see one with a code of 0X000000ED UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME then you have a problem. More times than not this means that your hard drive (HDD) has physical errors on it and will need replaced. Data recovery in most cases is possible, although is dependent on the condition of the drive.

2. BSOD 0X0024

Blue Screen Of Death. The affectionate term for the STOP error message that can happen with computers. If you see one with a code of 0X00000024 NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM then you may have a problem. This error means that the file system your computer uses to arrange all the information on your HDD has become corrupt. This can indicate that your hard drive is about to fail. Don’t fret, although this needs immediate attention in around 60% of cases all that’s required is to repair your hard drive. In most cases data recovery is possible.

3. Non Valid System Disk

This error regularly occurs when a floppy disk (remember them?) or USB stick is left in the computer. If however you haven’t left any of these items in the computer and you still get this error, then you have a problem. In most cases this means the hard drive has failed. Data recovery is generally not possible unless sent to specialised centers.

4. No hard drive detected

Some computers will give this message. Very clear, very concise. Check your BIOS settings and even try reseating your HDD. If this doesn’t work, then your hard drive has failed. Data recovery in this scenario is generally not possible unless sent to specialised centers.

5. Wrong size reported

If your computer starts up but you notice the size of the drive being reported is wrong – Say you have a 500Gb hard drive – but your only seeing 100Gb. Then you have a problem. The mechanics of the drive are failing and are not able to address the whole drive area. This requires immediate attention. Generally data recovery is only possible on the area that can be read by the drive. Specialised centers can gain access to the rest of the drive if the data is very important.

6. S.M.A.R.T. error

Self Monitoring Analysis Report Tool – The computer users friend. Most HDDs support it, although I’ve seen many that have it turned off (Check your BIOS to see how to turn it on). If you receive a S.M.A.R.T. error then your drive is imminently going to fail. You normally have plenty of time to recover data before the drive goes but don’t take this warning lightly. Also, getting a S.M.A.R.T. error is generally a rarity. Drives fail in many ways and if you get fore-warning with a S.M.A.R.T. error you are one of the lucky ones.

7. ‘The following file is missing or corrupt’

This error is fairly common on Windows XP machines. It relates to the registry files being missing or corrupt (as the message says). This is fixable, but in many cases it occurs again within a short space of time, say a day, in this situation it can be a good indication that your hard drive is about to fail. Data recovery should be possible but depends on the state of the drive.

8. Slow system, like ultra slow.

The typical hard drive is a mechanical device with moving parts. This wonder device is susceptible to the same things other mechanical devices are. In the same way that an engine can start to seize up and deliver drastically reduced power. The hard drive can seize up and deliver drastically reduced data transfer rates. If your machine starts up but just seems to take a day to do anything then you could have a hard drive that’s on its way out. Early spotting of this symptom can lead to full data recovery. If left then the drive will fail and typical data recovery will not be possible.

9. System sticks during P.O.S.T.

A failed component within the computer can cause the system to stick at P.O.S.T. It could be anything, a DVD drive, a card reader or your hard drive. With data being so important if this symptom occurs it’s totally worth while having your hard drive checked. In around half the cases we are able to extract some or all of the data from the drive.

10. Click… Click… Click…

The first time you hear this, you wonder what it is. But it’s a sound you’ll never forget. This is the death knell of the hard drive. The drives mechanics can fail at any time and this is the sound of a properly rooted drive. Data recovery is not possible unless you take it to a specialised centre, which is very expensive.

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