Fortunately, hard drive failure is not a terribly frequent occurrence. That does not, however, make them any less daunting for those who fall victim to them. Our reliance on our computer systems for just about every facet of modern life can mean that a single failure can have serious repercussions.
Maybe it was those photographs you took on the digital camera of the last Christmas the entire family was together, that final college essay you worked through the night on, or those business reports you promised you would have on the bosses desk by Monday. Any which way, a hard drive failure can be a very distressing experience indeed. Fortunately, all (including your data) is not lost. Here are some of the first things you should do in the event of a hard drive failure.
Diagnose The Reason For The Hard Drive Failure
Discovering the reason for the failure itself is a vital first step to the successful recovery of your data. Sometimes this is easily done and others not so much. If your disk became damaged as a result of a physical impact, or water damage, you can usually say with some certainly that the specific event caused the loss of your files. However, if you experience a logical failure, or the disk is very old, it may be harder to pinpoint the precise reason of the failure.
Below are some things to consider when attempting to diagnose the cause of the problem:
- Is your computing equipment old and dated? If the answer is yes, then the hard drive may have physically failed.
- Did you recently make a change to the operating of your system? For example, a new piece of software being installed on the machine. The new software may be interfering with your computer’s ability to read its own memory.
- Is your virus protection software up-to-date and have you recently performed a full system scan? If not, then you may have become infected by malicious software that is affecting your data.
- Did your computer or hard drive get exposed to something that could physically damage it? Examples here include, high temperatures (including those generated by the machine itself), liquids, and physical force.
What To Do Next?
The importance of the missing data, and the cause of the corruption itself, will determine your next course of action. If your failure is a logical one (caused by a program, or virus) there are several hard drive recovery programs available on the market. If the data you want to recover is not absolutely crucial, then attempting a recovery yourself with one of these tools is a viable option. While it is probable that you will be able to restore the data that you have lost with one of these tools, if the information is very important, you might prefer to pay a professional to take care of the job for you.
Physical damage to hard drives is a little trickier to restore yourself and we don’t really recommend those who are inexperienced go opening up their computers and trying to repair them at home. This is a job for professionals at this point.