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How To Test & Diagnose Why Your Hard Drive Failed

When a hard drive crashes, it does not automatically mean a fatal error. Data recovery is still possible, but your recovery options can only determined after you know the cause. So, if you are facing the dilemma of a hard disk failure, you should take a look at these pointers and try to assess the problem yourself before giving it up as a complete loss of data.

There are a few different types of potential problems. One of the most common is the logical problem, which implies that the problem occurs in the boot sector of the hard drive, which makes the hard drive unable to boot. This problem might be triggered by a series of factors like electrical based problems or even viruses.

Another one of these problems is the electrical problem. This is usually caused by an electric current that is higher than the machine’s limit and goes through the circuit board. In most cases, the first damage is done to the computer power sources, but we cannot rule out the fact that it may be cause other parts of the computer to fail, and in most cases it’s the hard disk or the motherboard.

Last but not least, you should not rule out a physical failure.  The most common out of these is that the reading head, the device responsible for reading the data that is stored on the hard disk’s platters. It may be damaged or the alignment of the platters may be damaged.

So, as you can see, there are three types of problems that may be the root cause of a failure: logical problems, electrical problems or mechanical problems. Knowing this, you can try to do a little debugging for yourself to try to understand & diagnose the problem and to better assess what kind of recovery expert you need to contact.

To find out if it is a boot related problem, you should boot from a floppy and do a read only scan of the hard disk in question.  Using this method, you will be able to know if the problem you are facing is a logical one. Also, you will find out if the boot sector is lost or if the master boot record has a problem.  What you need to take into consideration in any strategy you adopt is if there are bad sectors in the master boot record. If the damages are light, then we recommend you connect the hard drive to another computer with a working hard drive and try to salvage data or, if not, contact an expert in the field of data recovery.

To determine if it was a circuit triggered problem, you should open the ATX cabinet box, take the hard drive out and examine the circuits and the board near or in the place where the hard drive was.  Be careful that you do not accidentally touch the boards because you might produce a static discharge which can damage the disk’s reading heads.  If you see any visible burned areas on the mother board or near the circuits, then this is the most probable cause for your hard drive failure.

If you think it is a mechanical problem, then you should closely examine any sounds you hear from the computer main unit. If you hear a clicking sound, that is the sound of the hard drive which is trying to spin up or down and there is a problem in the hard disk platter assembly.  This is probably the hardest to repair and unfortunately it is equal to permanent data loss, so try to search for a capable data recovery professional if you are trying to resolve this problem.