Today I’m going to start a four-part series on hard drive failure and data recovery. We’re going to look at:

  • What is hard drive failure and what causes it
  • Warning signs of hard drive failure and what to do
  • How to choose a data recovery service
  • Preventive drive maintenance tips

Hard Drive Failure and Its Causes

There’s nothing more frustrating to computer users than not being able to access their files. If they use the computer for business, it’s not only frustrating but costly as well. When files can’t be opened, it’s common for a bit of panic to wash over the user at first. It may be hard to think calmly during those first few moments. However, understanding drive failure helps the user to formulate a plan of action and resolve the problem quickly.

Logical Hard Drive Failures

Logical failures are a common event. There is not any physical damage to the drive; however, when files can’t be retrieved, the result is still frustrating. Two causes for logical failures are:

  • Accidental deletion – caused by human error; and
  • Corrupted operating system files – often caused by virus and malware attack, or by improper computer shutdown procedures, often caused by power outages or battery failure.

In our next post, we’re going to cover what to do in these instances. The user can often make a self-recovery, but there are procedures that must be followed for success.

Physical Hard Drive Failures

In a physical failure, some component of the drive is actually damaged. It may be a mechanical component, such as the read/write head, or an electronic failure. The recording surface of the drive media might also be damaged. Causes of physical damage include:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Electrical spikes
  • Water damage
  • Excessive heat
  • Drops, bumps and mishandling

Physical damage is best remedied by a qualified data recovery service. Unless the recovery engineer is qualified and has the necessary equipment, the recovery process can do more harm than good.

In our next post, we’ll discover how to recognize drive failure and learn about the first steps to recovery.