Nowadays, many people store personal files on their computer hard drive. However, every hard drive has their own lifespan and can be failed. And data can be lost if you come across hard drive failure. This article will show you a list of signs of hard drive failure and tell what precautions you should take before hard drive failure.

Hard drive failure can be a disaster as all the data on the disk can be lost suddenly without any precaution. However, hard drive failures do have signs. If you pay attention to them and do the prevention measures beforehand, you may avoid the annoying data loss caused by hard drive failure.

Some users may don’t know what hard drive failure is. So, in the first place, I will illustrate you what hard drive failure is and its consequences to your computer.

What Is Hard Drive Failure

Generally speaking, there are two types of hard drive failures: physical and logical. For physical hard drive failure, it means the hard disk or one of its components has become physically damaged or stops working entirely, which could lead to Windows boot issues and data loss.

For logical hard drive failure, there are no mechanical issues on the hard drive but the hard drive may fail to function normally or satisfactorily, as the damage occurs in a hard drive’s file structure or software rather than the internal hard disk. When a logical hard drive failure occurs, files may be inaccessible or disappeared. In other cases, the computer operating system may have been corrupted.

Normally, a typical lifespan for a hard drive is 3-5 years with normal use. The most vulnerable drives are old electromechanical devices that store data on fast-spinning disk. But sometimes, your hard drive may crash no matter how long it has been used.

SSD will fail as well, but it happens less frequently. Luckily, many hard drives will show indications that there is a problem before the full crash. If you are worried that your hard drive is failing, check if your hard drive shows the following symptoms. Here are some hard drive failure signs that can indicate hard drive failure.

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Symptom 1. Frequent Computer Freezes, and Crashes

If you find your computer freezes and crashes like the Blue Screen of Death issue frequently, it is possibly caused by your hard drive. And if it occurs after a fresh installation, it is very likely due to bad hardware, and possibly a failing hard drive.

There are many causes of computer freezes and crashes, but it also indicates hard drive failure coming soon. Under this situation, you can copy your important data to an external hard drive in case of accidental hard drive failure.

Symptom 2. Missing Files or Files Failed to Open

One of the typical signs of hard drive failure is files suddenly disappeared or failed to open. If you find some files fail to open and are corrupted even though they were saved without errors OR if some files suddenly disappear, you should stay alert and take action. The data stored on the hard drive should be recovered and transferred to a safe place.

Symptom 3. Consuming Excessive Time to Access Folders and Files

Really long wait time to access folders and files is also a sign of hard drive failure, which is due to the failing areas of the hard drive requiring repeated read attempts before successful access. However, this can be also caused by many other computer issues, but it is also a typical sign of hard drive failure.

Symptom 4. A Rising Number of Bad Sectors

A rising number of bad sectors can be a sign of a failing hard drive. A bad sector is a disk sector on a disk storage unit that is permanently damaged. Once damaged, all information stored on the sector will be lost. Accumulated bad sectors are a sign of hard drive failure and they are hard to identify. When large amounts of your disk are currently in use, the data stored on the disk could be in danger.

Some users may ask: how do I know if my hard drive has bad sectors? Normally, when you perform some specific operations or open some files, your computer is significantly running slow or the disk is ticking. This can indicate that there are some bad sectors on your hard disk. And here is a way to help confirm.

MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition is an all-in-one partition manager trusted by tens of millions of users. If you search it on Google, you will find many people rate it as the most powerful and easy-to-use partition magic for its all-rounded features like format partition, check file system, migrate OS to SSD/HD, copy disk, convert MBR to GPT, convert FAT to NTFS, etc.

As it is a very reliable and trustworthy freeware, you can use this one to check bad sectors on your hard disk.

Step 1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition by clicking the following button. Install it on your computer and launch it to get the main interface.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 2. Select the target disk you would like to check. Then select Surface Test from the left action panel.

click Surface Test

Step 3. Click Start Now button to start disk surface test. Then, this software will automatically test the disk surface and demonstrate you a result.

click Start Now

Step 4. After it is done, you can see if there are bad sectors on your hard drive. Bad sectors will be shown in red. If no error founded, you can click OK and exit the application.

click OK

If you just want to check a specific partition, you can also select the specific partition and then choose Surface Test to go on.

choose surface test

Now you have learned how to check if hard disk has bad sectors. Bad sectors are harmful to the data saved on your disk. If you find there are many bad sectors on your hard disk, your hard disk may fail very soon, though it works normally now. In this case, you’d better replace the disk and copy all the data on the disk to the new one.

Symptom 5. Strange Sounds

Sound can also indicate hard drive failing. If you hear strange sounds like clicking or grinding noises coming from the drive, you should pay attention to it. At the same time, it is highly recommended to make an instant backup as your drive can be crashed at any time.

You may not think this is a problem as everything works normally. But if your drives read/write heads fail, they could drop down onto the platter surface and scratch the delicate surfaces, leading to data loss. So if you find that your hard drive makes occasional clicks or grinding sounds, you’d better backup your data immediately and replace the drive.

Symptom 6. S.M.A.R.T. Status Is Not OK

S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) is a monitoring system included in computer hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), and eMMC drives, providing each device with a degree of internal status monitoring.

Modern hard drives have S.M.A.R.T. built in, so they can do basic self-monitoring to inform the coming hardware failures. When S.M.A.R.T. data indicates a possible imminent drive failure, software running on the host system will inform users so they can take preventative action beforehand.

Well, how to check S.M.A.R.T. status to view the hard disk health with the S.M.A.R.T monitoring system? You can view a very basic S.M.A.R.T. status from the Windows Command Prompt. Here are detailed steps.

Step 1. Input cmd in the Windows Cortana box and choose the best match to open Command Prompt.

Step 2. Input wmic and press Enter.

Step 3. Input diskdrive get status and press Enter.

Step 4. If the status of your hard disk is fine, you will see a message OK.

check hard disk status

If your hard disk status is NOT OK or shows other statuses—such as Bad, Caution, or Unknown, you should keep an eye on your hard drive or consider changing another hard disk. It does not necessarily mean that your hard drive is going to fail immediately, but you need to take measures.

What Should You Do to Protect Hard Drive Failing?

The above are some typical symptoms of hard drive failure. And sometimes hard drive failure can also happen at any time without warning. Even if your hard drive doesn’t die completely, it could corrupt portions of your data. So, what should you do to protect hard drive failing?

The best way is to back up your hard drive or replace it with a healthy hard disk before the actual crash occurs. To backup everything on the hard drive in a time-saving way, it is recommended to use a professional disk cloning software MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.

Step 1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition by clicking the following button. Install it on your computer and launch it to get the main interface.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 2. Then select the faulty hard disk and choose Copy Disk from the left action panel.

copy disk

Step 3. Choose a disk to copy the source content to and click Next. And click Yes on the pop-up window to continue.

Note: All the data on the target disk will be destroyed, so make sure there is no important file on the disk or you have made backups in advance.

select disk to copy

Step 4. Review the changes you are going to make on the target disk. You may also change the partition size by dragging the handle bar or input a specific number directly. Then click Next to continue.

review the changes

Step 5. In this page, MiniTool Partition Wizard will tell you how to boot from the destination hard drives if you are cloning a system disk. Then click Finish.

click Finish

Step 6. At last, you need to click Apply to allow the pending operations.

click Apply

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After reading these typical signs of hard drive failure listed above, you may have learned how to tell if your hard drive is failing. If you find that your hard drive is failing, you’d better replace your hard disk with a healthy one immediately with the free disk cloning software.

If you have any question about how to tell if hard drive is failing or how to copy disk with MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can leave a message on the following comment zone and we will reply as soon as possible. If you need any help when using MiniTool software, you can contact us via [email protected].

Signs of Hard Drive Failure FAQ

What causes hard drive failure?
Hard drive failure could be caused by power issues, corrupted firmware, hardware failure, overheating, physical damage caused by human error, water damage, and other unforeseen mishaps.
How do you fix a hard drive failure?
You can run CHKDSK in Windows 10 to fix the hard drive errors. If CHKDSK don’t helps, you can connect the hard drive to a different computer. If the hard drive still doesn’t work, you may need to replace the failed hard drive with a new one.
How do I know if my hard drive is failing Windows 10?
If your Windows 10 computer frequently freezes or crashes, consumes excessive time to access folders and files, has strange sound when it is running, it indicates the hard drive is failing. Besides, if the basic S.M.A.R.T. status is Bad, Caution, or Unknown when using wmic command to get disk status, it indicates an imminent hard drive failure.
How long does it take for a hard drive to fail?
According a survey from the online backup company BackBlaze, 90% of hard drives last for three years, and 80% for four years. If the hard drive is well protected in your computer, it can also last to 5 years or 6 years. Besides, the failure rate varies due to different hard drive brands.
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