When a hard drive dies, many people are caught off guard. Instead of booting normally, your computer may present an error stating that no bootable device can be found. Your external drive may not be detected when you plug it in. Losing critical data when a drive fails can be devastating. Fortunately, there are several warning signs that may allow you enough time to back up your vital files before it stops working completely!

  • Slow Access Times: A sudden slowdown in the operating speed of your computer or external drive can be a sign of media degradation. It should not take twenty minutes to open an Excel spreadsheet, nor should it take over an hour to move 5 photos into a different folder. Ruling out malware or virus problems, these slow processing times are often indicative of impending disaster.
  • Missing or Corrupted Files: Be on the lookout for mysterious missing files. If after saving a file to your Desktop, you notice it gone only a day later, drive failure may be looming. Similarly, certain programs may cease functioning due to lost files. In any case, data loss is already occurring.
  • Stop Errors: Stop Errors, more commonly known as the “Blue Screen of Death” in PCs, are the result of fatal operating system errors that prevent the computer from functioning properly. In Mac systems, users will be presented with a message stating “You need to restart your computer,” in several languages. Frequent occurrences of these errors may indicate a failing drive.
  • Abnormal Operating Sounds: Certain sounds are expected from any normal hard drive. Clicking and grinding sounds are not normal. Be aware of any new or worsening sounds coming from your hard drive as it works, particularly when accessing certain files or directories. This type of failure is often indicative of potential media damage. Use caution when attempting to rescue files, as this can do more harm than good.
If your drive demonstrates one or more of these signs, backup as much data as you can and stop using the drive. It is most likely in an unstable condition. If backup is slow or fails partway through, consider contacting professionals. Continued use of a failing drive may corrupt and destroy more data. TechFusion offers free phone consultations at 617.797.5222 for any failure scenario.