Several factors can affect the lifespan of a hard drive; thankfully, most hard drives give signs of impending failure before they eventually fail. Here are six signs of a failing hard drive to look out for:
- Corrupted files
If your files are frequently being corrupted, it is a sign that your hard drive may be failing. Of course, corrupted files can also be caused by other factors like over clocking SATA bus, driver issues, viruses, sudden power failure, etc. However, if the incidence of file corruption is overly frequent, a failing hard drive is more likely the cause. It is advisable to immediately backup your data and diagnose the hard drive for problems.
- Slow response time and transfer rates
Whenever a hard drive is failing, its performance typically reduces significantly, causing slow response time and transfer rates. This reduced performance is so bad that it may take several minutes to send a small audio file, or it takes a ridiculous amount of time to open simple programmes like Windows Explorer. Slow response time and transfer rates can also be caused by other factors like system load, fragmentation, infections etc., so it may or may not be indicative of hard drive failure. Nevertheless, if it persists, it can lead to hard drive failure. It is, therefore, advisable to back up your data as a precaution.
- Accumulating bad sectors
Hard drives typically store data in tiny clusters. Whenever these clusters are corrupted or damaged, that part of the hard disk is no longer functional and thus referred to as a bad sector. These bad sectors can cause serious damage to your data and when you run into them, alongside frequent freezing of your device, it is definitely a bad sign. It should be a strong reminder to backup your data as soon as possible.
- Strange noises and extreme heat
Mechanical hard drives tend to make noise while functioning because of several moving parts inside them. However, when your hard drive starts to make odd clicking and grinding noises, it is most likely caused by physical damage or deterioration of the hard drive. It may be a damaged header, failed motor, etc. Whatever it may be, these strange noises indicate that it is time to backup your data as soon as possible.
S.M.A.R.T is a Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology that helps to analyse current hard drive state and predict hard drive failures. Most modern hard drive support this technology; be sure your hard drive is one of them and try using this technology to predict possible hard drive failure, especially when your hard drive starts acting abnormally.
- Other signs include…
Some other possible signs of impending hard drive failure are frequent but irregular crashes, especially when booting up Windows; frequent and cryptic error messages when performing activities like moving files etc.; disappearing files and folders; disappearing data and disk errors; and scrambled and changed folder and file names.