As we place growing importance on digitizing our important personal and business information, it is vital to realize the risks that come with these activities. While storing our data on hard drives makes it easy to access, manipulate, and organize, hard drives don’t last forever. In fact, a stationary hard drive has an expected lifespan of 5 to 10 years while a mobile one may only last 3 to 5 years. Sometimes, hard drives fail with no warning, but – if you’re lucky – you will notice one of these five signs of imminent failure in time to back up your precious data:
- Blue Screen of Death/Freezing/Slowing: While these signs can be caused by a host of different things, they do not bode well for your hard drive’s health. Make a backup of your files immediately once you regain access to your device in Safe Mode.
- Corrupted Data: While one incident of having a file fail to open or not locating a file you could have sworn you saved may not be cause for alarm, it may be a signal your hard drive is on its way out if these indicators of corrupted data become a trend.
- Bad Sectors: Windows doesn’t advertise the accumulation of bad sectors or parts of the hard drive that don’t maintain data integrity. If, however, you notice an increasing amount of such sectors during disk maintenance, back your data up regardless of whether your computer indicates it can fix these errors or not.
- S.M.A.R.T. Data: Your computer is equipped with tools to monitor your hard drive’s health, known as Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) data, which are designed to warn you when things go awry. While this isn’t the most reliable method to diagnose your hard drive’s condition, something is definitely wrong when your computer alerts you to issues.
- Unusual Noises: If you hear clicking, grinding, or screeching sounds coming from your computer, back up your files at once. Since such noises are the result of mechanical failures, it may be too late once such sounds begin.