Causes Of Hard Drive Failure - No 1

All hard disk platters are allocated units commonly referred to as sectors. Each HDD will be divided in many millions of these and each sectors will hold data.  During the lifetime of a hard disk drive, one or perhaps many more of these sectors will become bad or unreadable, this is often referred to as as either "media degradation" or simply "bad sectors".

These "Bad Sectors" are areas of a hard disk drive platter that cannot be read correctly nor have data written to them. The causes of this can vary - commonly the main causes will probably be:

    i.    Platter surface imperfections
    ii.    physical wear and tear
    iii.    external issues such as shock, vibration or electrostatic interference

How do you know these have developed

Very often with "bad sectors" you are unaware that your drive has them, then you are almost always in the midst of a gradual decline in the reliability of the drive as a whole. However the purpose of this article is to hopefully alert readers to some of the possible indicators of this type of failure.

Identifying bad sectors for those that are not experienced in recognising the fault can be difficult so watch out for the following:

It is important to realise that once this process of degradation commences it is irreversible - it won't suddenly get better! Many might be tempted to download software however "bad Sectors" is a physical problem with the hard Disk Drive and as yet no software exists that that reverse the degradation process. There is a common misconception that programs such as the above mentioned can 'fix' bad sectors on a hard disk, this is not the case, infact it is often the case that they are quite destructive and can make matters much worse. Many, many files have been non-recoverable due to the running of these utilitites and the file fragment recovery that they attempt.

  • Slow / gradual deterioration in performance
  • Sudden unexpected shutdown of your system
  • Error messages such as: Data Error (Cyclic Redundancy Check)
Chkdsk or Scandisk running at startup
  • Drive failing to be recognised by computer or requesting a format
  • Drive making "whirring" and "scratching noises" on startup

It is extremely important in cases of suspected bad sectors to immediately back up your hard disk data - Continued access of the device will lead to stress on the read/write head assembly, which can in turn lead to head failure, or worse a head crash leading to severe loss of data.

NUS Data Recovery offer Hard Disk Recovery from Bad Sector problems from £99 - however we would advise that drives with head failure costs significantly more - from £199, please contact us for further advice and assistance.

10, Sep, 2009