External Hard Drive Failure Symptoms: The Top 5 Signs

Oh say, can you hear the sound of your failing hard drive? It comes with a jolt of sheer terror running through our veins.

The sound of a hard disk’s failure may be unmistakable, while other times, the drive may be slowly degrading without the user even realizing it is happening. Once you’ve become familiar with the typical hard drive failure symptoms, you’ll have greater chances of preserving your data from being permanently lost.

If you’re unfamiliar with the ways, your hard disk drive (HDD) can malfunction, no worries. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of the five main signs of hard drive failure. We’ve got you covered.

A Hard Drive Fail: The General Causes

Fall damage is one of the most prevalent causes of hard disk failure. However, although laptops and other mobile devices are more likely to suffer fall damage, desktops aren’t entirely safe.

Although the computer seems to be in fine operating condition on the exterior, the read/write head might be out of alignment or the platters could be damaged. It may take a while for the damage to show, but it will eventually.

Another common source of bodily harm is a power outage or spike of electricity. The surge may have also harmed other parts of the system, such as the controller. The platters of your hard drive may still contain data that may be recovered by a data recovery service, but the disk itself is dead.

Hard Drive Failure Symptoms 101

A regular hard drive’s lifespan is typically between five to ten years. It’s even a shorter lifespan if the drive is subjected to changes in temperature or humidity. After three to five years, your laptop’s hard disk will likely fail, and the same holds for SSDs.

Assuming that your hard disk fails slowly, you will have time to back up your data and replace it before it fails.

However, how can you know if your hard disk is failing?

1. Slow and Sluggish Operation

This is a frequent symptom when a hard disk begins to lose performance in a concise amount of time. A failing hard disk might cause your computer to take longer to start and your applications to seem sluggish.

There will be mechanical and software-based bad sectors that appear on an old disk when it begins to wear down. The head must do a more extensive search to read or write the desired data—this method of searching results in decreased speed.

An area of the drive that the head can no longer reach is a “bad sector.” A manufacturing flaw, physical damage, or damaged data might cause these faulty sectors.

A drive will eventually fail if the number of faulty mechanical sectors exceeds a certain threshold. On the other hand, specific recovery solutions may frequently fix logically defective sectors.

But delayed performance might also be caused by several other factors. Your PC’s performance might suffer if you have too many applications running in the background, a fragmented hard drive (HDDs only), a malware infection, a damaged Windows installation, or an entire hard drive.

If you’ve already been working on fixing your drive, but it’s not readable, you can learn more here to fix this issue.

2. Missing or Corrupt Data and Folders

A hard drive’s sectors may fail over time due to wear and tear or a manufacturing flaw. In addition to slowing down the system, this might also result in inaccurate or missing data. Damaged sectors contain corrupted data that the OS can no longer read.

It is possible to transfer data from bad sectors to good ones using applications like chkdsk that can fix logical or soft faulty sectors. On the other hand, the problematic areas can never be repaired and must be avoided going forward.

This may also be a symptom of malware or a faulty Windows image, so be careful to investigate these possibilities as well. Repair and upgrade your Windows 10 image if required after running a security check.

3. Malfunctioning Software Programs

A failing hard disk might cause some applications to fail to open or no longer work correctly.

Even while we often think about our personal data when files or folders are damaged, this also applies to the files and folders a software requires to function. If a program cannot locate a necessary file, it will either fail to start or crash randomly or suffer from overall performance concerns.

A fresh installation of the software may solve your problems. However, a temporary workaround will not save you from an actual drive failure. It’s going to be corrupted again eventually.

4. Operating System Doesn’t Start at All

Your hard drive may be failing if your computer starts up but Windows 10 or your OS does not start up. When several retries fail to fix the problem, your hard disk or Windows 10 corruption probably is to blame.

If your hard disk looks okay, you may proceed to fix Windows 10 if the problem persists.

5. Strange Sounds

Your data is in danger if you hear weird sounds emanating from your hard disk.

The click of death is created by the head repeatedly attempting to write data, failing, retreating to its home location, and retrying. The bearings or spindle motor may be deteriorating if you hear grinding or scratching sounds.

Signs of a Failing Hard Drive: Explored

There’s no escaping the truth that all things have a limited lifespan, so you can expect your hard drive to die at some point in the future. However, the most crucial aspect is paying attention to the warning signs.

We hope that our guide has shed some light on the five critical hard drive failure symptoms. And, if you’re hungry for more information on how to take care of your hardware, then you should head straight to our technology section.