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5 minute readUnderstanding Hard Disk Failures

How to Find and Fix Hard Drive Disk Failures

A hard drive failure is the most common type of computer system failure. According to Backblaze’s Q2’21 report, hard drives fail at an annualized rate of 1.01%. The failure rate is up nearly 20% from the same period a year ago.  This post will discuss what causes hard drive failures and what you can do to mitigate the impact.

What Is Hard Disk Failure

A hard drive failure is when one or more sectors of the hard drive stop working. When hard drives fail, there are many symptoms that can arise, including hard disk boot failures.

Hard Disk Failure

Disk Boot Failure

Boot Sector Virus, which has corrupted the hard drive’s Master Boot Record (MBR), is another hard drive failure symptom you may encounter. A hard disk system error message, failure to boot up, and blue screen errors are also signs that a hard drive might be failing.


What Causes a Hard Disk Failure?

Hard disks fail because of physical damage, such as a failing hard drive motor or a bad hard drive controller board. Other hard drive failure causes include:

  • Age and rotational speed leading to spindle damage.
  • Spills on the hard drive surface or other components leading to corrosion and rusting of internal parts.
  • BIOS incompatibility issues with the hard disk’s controllers and the motherboard BIOS Programmer (ROM) chip.
  • A power surge or spike causing corruption to the hard drive firmware if there is not adequate protection from the PSU (power supply).


What are Typical Symptoms of a Hard Disk Failure?

The hard drive failure symptoms depend on the hard drive failure type. A hard disk boot failure can include hard drive clicking or grinding noises, or even no noise at all.

Error messages during hard drive access may be displayed on the screen, and some users may hear new hardware beep tones. Blue screens of death (BSoD) are also hard disk failure symptoms.


Pro Tip: How To Solve a Hard Drive Failure

There are four ways to fix a hard disk failure: by replacing the physical disks, repairing the RAID level within the existing disks, rebuilding an image onto new disks, and/or cloning an image onto new disks. Each hard drive failure has its own hard disk recovery methods and is as unique as the hard drive itself.

Replacing Hard Disks

Hard disks that have failed completely can be replaced with newer, larger hard drives. It might be necessary to rebuild data from backups if they were not regularly created and stored separately from where those hard drives were being used. Replacing hard disk units also requires breaking down the system to access storage hardware. This may take time depending on what is removed.

Repairing a RAID Level Within Disks

You can use software utilities to fix RAID hardware errors without having to remove the hard disks or replace them with new ones. Hardware suppliers, such as HPE Disk Storage, make tools available for repairing storage hardware without disrupting hard drive performance.

Rebuilding an Image Onto New Hard Disks

A hard disk recovery tool, such as Disk Drill Pro, can be used to recover lost data from hard drives that have failed. Sometimes the hard drive failure will only affect certain parts of the hard drive. This makes it possible to recover all or most of what was on there before.


Cloning an Image onto New Hard Disks

Cloning software copies everything over to a new hard drive without losing any data in the process. Data recovery software for Windows, like R-Studio Emergency, is available to make this task easier by recovering data upfront before it gets cloned over. Hard disk recovery tools are not always necessary depending on where you store backups and whether or not you have hard drive failure symptoms.


Hard Disk Failure in a Data Center

Disk failures are a common occurrence in data centers and can cause data loss or downtime. In order to minimize the chances of hard drive failure, data centers use multiple hard drives in RAID configurations. If one hard drive fails, the other hard drives can take over and keep the system running.

In some cases, hard drive failures can be caused by corrupted firmware or by a virus that attacks the MBR. In these cases, the hard drive needs to be replaced or rebuilt. Many data centers also use hard drive cloning software to create backups of their systems. If one hard drive fails, the clone can be used to restore the system to its previous state.

The Big Picture on Hard Drive Failure

A hard disk failure is the most common hard drive problem that computer users face. This problem can impact hundreds or even thousands of users at once if it happens in a data center. It is important to be able to tell, when hard drives are failing, which hard drive recovery tools can be used in case of hard drive failure, and how hard disks can be replaced by new ones without damaging your data.

To better understand how hard disk failures can impact your enterprise and how to solve the problem when disk failure occurs, contact our team at Reliant Technology. We work with mid-market and enterprise organizations to provide robust and reliable infrastructure management and maintenance solutions. You can learn more about the Reliant Technology difference when you contact us here.

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Reid Smith-Vaniz

by Reid Smith-Vaniz

Reid is the founder and CEO of Reliant Technology and for 14 years has pursued his mission to remove the pain associated with maintaining IT infrastructure. Reid writes on common challenges related to maintaining, servicing, tracking, budgeting, and upgrading technology.

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Reliant Technology Cares

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About Reliant Technology

As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.

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