Your hard drive has been acting strange. It’s making clicking or screeching sounds, it’s unable to find files, crashes on boot, slow transfer speed or seems to be moving slowly. Your hard drive is dying.
Since it is a mechanical device it has moving parts unlike a Solid State Device (SSD) which has none. But even a SSD will eventually fail.
Even if your hard drive is healthy, over time, it will die. You should keep an eye on it’s health once in a while for your peace of mind. Let’s see how to do this.
This is for Windows 10 devices and Macs
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The Drive’s SMART Status
Most modern drives have a feature called S.M.A.R. T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) that monitors different drive attributes in an attempt to detect a failing disk. That way, your computer will automatically notify you before data loss occurs and the drive can be replaced while it still remains functional.
Check in Windows
In Windows 10, you can manually check the S.M.A.R.T. status of your drives from the Command Prompt. Just right-click the Start button, select Run, and type “cmd“, then click OK or type “cmd” into the Cortana search bar, then click OK. In the Command Prompt pop-up box, type:
wmic diskdrive get model,status
It will return “Pred Fail” if your drive’s death is imminent; “Bad”, “Unknown” or “Caution” if its time to take care of a drive or “OK” if it thinks a drive is doing fine. Refer to below image:
Check on a Mac
On a Mac, you can check S.M.A.R.T. status by opening the Disk Utility program, clicking on the drive and looking at “S.M.A.R.T. Status” in the bottom left, which will either read “Verified” or “Failing”.
SMART Status can be Misleading
However, this basic S.M.A.R.T. information can be misleading. You only know when your drive is near death, but you can start to experience problems even if the basic S.M.A.R.T. status is okay.
You can also use Defraggler program I discussed in a previous post. When you use the Analyze feature of the program, it will show your disk health. Click here for the post on using Defraggler.
If you want an even deeper, more accurate picture into your drive’s health, check its manufacturer’s website for a dedicated tool; for example, Seagate has SeaTools for its drives, Western Digital has Data Lifeguard Diagnostic for its drives and Samsung has Samsung Magician for its SSDs. These tools can sometimes take into account certain technologies specific to their hard drives and SSDs.
Note! You may find that the SeaTools (Seagate) utility is the only software you will need. In the below image, it can diagnose Samsung, Western Digital as well as Seagate using several methods:
Is Your Drive Almost Dead
Drives with the “Pred Fail” status won’t necessarily fail tomorrow. They could chug along for a year or be dead as a doornail in a few days if not hours.
If you’re getting warnings, it’s time to back up your files before your drive fails. Failure to act may cost you serious money to recover your data.
Now is not the time for a full backup, however: you don’t want to stress the drive with too many reads or it could fail while you’re backing up. Instead, plug in an external drive and copy your most important files onto it; family photos, work documents and anything else that can’t easily be replaced. Then, once you know those are safe, you can try doing a full drive clone with something like EaseUS Todo Backup Free.
I got a S.M.A.R.T. status of “Pred Fail” on my main hard drive. I quickly backed up my important files to an external drive. I never finished before it died. I tried the trick off turning my desktop on its side, then upside down. I got a little more life from the hard drive. Then I removed the hard drive and gently shook the device. I could hear the spindle sliding; then I knew if was totally dead. But it’s worth trying this trick.
Is Your Drive Dead
If your hard drive has already stopped working, things get a lot tougher and you’ll probably need a professional data recovery service which can cost $1,000 or more. But if you have pricelrss data on the drive, it may be worth it to you.
Prepare for Hard Drive Failure
It’s not a matter of “if” your hard drive will fail; it’s a matter of “when”. All hard drives fail eventually and if you want to avoid losing all your important files, you absolutely have to back up your computer regularly; including when the drive is healthy.
Take some time to set up an automatic, cloud based backup like Google Backup and Sync using Google Drive. It is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from heartache later on. Or at least back up to an external drive using Windows 10 built-in File History Tool.
If your drive failed catastrophically with no warning, you can get back up and running in no time by having an up-to-date backup.
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