What To Do When A Hard Drive Fails?

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Are you suddenly unable to access the data on your hard drive for some reason? Perhaps it is showing you an error, or maybe your computer is simply failing to boot up? If your hard drive has failed then you should act quickly, as even though the hard drive may not be working – you still have a shot at recovering your data.

To recover your data you’ll need recovery software – and you should be able to find several options online. However you shouldn’t just run the software on your hard drive, but instead should follow these steps:

  • Stop using the hard drive and power it off

The first thing you should do is stop using the hard drive. Regardless of whether it is a conventional hard disk drive or a solid state drive (SSD), continuing to use the hard drive or leaving it on runs the risk of overwriting the data that is on it – in which case it will be unrecoverable.

  • Figure out what if it is a mechanical failure

If your hard drive was making a ‘clicking’ sound, hangs, beeps or isn’t detected odds are it is a mechanical failure that is caused by physical damage to the hard drive. Assuming that is the case your best bet is to get professional help, as data recovery from a hard drive that has suffered a mechanical failure is difficult unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

  • Clone the drive

Because you don’t want to leave your hard drive powered up, the best way to try to recover data using software is to clone it. Nowadays you’ll find several types of software that allow you to clone the drive and will essentially duplicate the exact data that is on it.

  • Run recovery software on the cloned drive

Once you have cloned your hard drive, you can then run recovery software on it without risking the original data. Because it is a clone, even if something goes horribly wrong and the data is deleted you still have the original that you can clone again or take to a professional.

It is worth noting that although it is possible to recover data from a failed hard drive, most of the methods of doing so are extremely technical – especially if it is a mechanical failure. The reason why it is best to get professional help in those situations is because you may have to open up your hard drive and could risk damaging it further if you aren’t careful and don’t have a clean room.

Assuming all goes well you should be able to recover most of the data on your hard drive. If any parts were damaged then they may be unrecoverable, though a professional may be able to restore some data from damaged hard drives regardless. In any case, now that you know what to do at least you have a reasonable chance of getting back your data rather than writing it off.

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