Troubleshooting Your Own Computer

Lost Data? Failing Drive? Don't Start Over So Soon!

by Dora Barrett

Hard drives fail as a normal part of owning a computer. You may have been lucky with older hard drives from the beginning of the personal computer generation that can still read data, but it's not uncommon for modern hard drives with vastly higher capacities to fail within a four year lifespan. If you're dealing with slow access speeds, constant sector failures while accessing data or a complete hard drive, don't be so quick to throw it out and start over. Consider a few ways that data recovery professionals can assess the situation and move towards a recovery first.

Causes And Symptoms Of A Failing Hard Drive

Hard drives (and the newer solid state drives) operate by storing data in physically different areas, with each area accessed by reading a specific part of the drive rather than a single, heavily-relied on point. For hard drives, this means that a voice coil cylinder moves an attached arm across spinning hard drive platters

The reading and writing eventually takes its toll in the form of normal wear on the platters. In more damaging situations, any bump or jolt to the hard drive while it's moving can scratch the platters, making specific data difficult to read or unreadable.

When a part of the drive is unreadable, the arm continues searching for the missing information. If the information is missing, the computer will attempt to move on by skipping the file or announcing that the file is inaccessible if the file isn't critical. If the file is critical, your computer may crash because of vital system information being missing.

In either case, the search for information means slower performance as the hard drive spends time it could be delivering many files on delivering a single, missing file. The slow performance and constant noises from the hard drive should warn you of coming failure.

Data Recovery and Transfer After Failure

If you're lucky, you may be able to transfer your files to another hard drive before all of the information is lost. If not, it's time to take the drive to a professional.

Data recovery specialists have tools available for accessing data that the precision arm can't access. Deeper scans, temporary repair techniques and thorough examinations of failure can yield the weak points.

From there, your hard drive's contents can be transferred to a new drive. If you'd like the information to be integrated to a new, main hard drive to run programs, the data recovery specialists can help. If the files you need are basic pictures, documents, music, videos or non-operating system files, it may be better to add these files to a new hard drive while dedicating another new drive to the regularly-accessed operating system. The more a drive is accessed, the sooner wear and tear takes place.

Contact a data recovery specialist to discuss your file recovery needs and to get a more reliable fix for your computer failure concerns.