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Data Loss Scenarios

Hard Drive Failure and Data Loss Scenarios

  • Unusual Noises - Any strange or unpleasant sound coming from your HDD could point to an issue and should be investigated. Common sounds associated with failing drives include clicking, clacking, whirring and grinding sounds, which indicate that the read/write heads are not able to function normally. These sounds will gradually worsen with time.
  • Corruption - Corruption occurs when the hard drive reads information from the wrong area of the disk. This may occur when a computer shuts down suddenly while in the middle of a read/write operation, and it can also occur when a hard drive starts to fail physically. Corrupt files may be completely unreadable or partially readable. They may present garbled information (this is especially common with documents and images).
  • Missing or Renamed Files - This is another type of corruption associated with the file tables on a hard drive. Files may have unreadable extensions, and they may be renamed entirely. In some cases, this can affect entire folder and sub-folder structures.
  • Slow Operation - Many factors can affect a computer's performance, but if a computer seems to operate very slowly when trying to read files or folders, it could be a sign of hard drive failure. Check to see whether your drive has adequate free space, as this can also cause slow operation.
  • S.M.A.R.T. Notifications - Computers often use a monitoring system called S.M.A.R.T. to analyze the performance of hard drives, solid-state drives and some other types of devices. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology, and it is often accessible through BIOS.
  • S.M.A.R.T. - Can provide a number of statistics related to hard drive performance and usage. Attributes like "Soft Read Error Rate" or "Uncorrectable Sector Count" can show that a hard drive is failing. If you find S.M.A.R.T. notifications related to your hard drive's performance, write down the notifications and keep the drive powered down until you can identify the source of the error.
  • Failure to Boot - Some drives may fail to boot entirely. They may not show up as valid hard drives in a computer's BIOS (or BIOS equivalent). This often occurs due to electronic issues.
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