Note—this article talks of hard drives, not SSD
Among all the components inside your computer, a hard drive is the weakest link.
On average, they last 3-5 years, but average does not mean always.
A $100 hard disk can hold data that is worth millions, and it’s deeply inconvenient to have one quit on you. How to repair a damaged hard drive is probably the most often asked question about computer hardware.
We are here to answer that and tell you how you can fix damaged HDD.
How To Repair A Damaged Hard Drive?
One day you want to boot your laptop but it’s dead since the HDD fails to work. There are some signs before this happens.
1. Slow boot
Windows 10 takes about a minute to boot. On an older machine, it can be more than 3 minutes.
But does it take about 5 minutes to boot? That is a cause for worry.
Note—Boot here refers to the time from the BIOS screen to the Windows splash screen and startup sound.
2. Slow file reading
You clicked on the marketing spend budget Excel, but it took about a minute to open.
Also, if you made any changes in an existing file and that takes time to save, the hard disk might be nearing its end. You need to fix damaged HDD before you do anything else.
3. Movie playback
This is a classic giveaway. A video file stops playing and freezes (not streaming video). But when you play back that same scene, it works fine.
4. Clicking noise
You won’t notice it if you work in a room with a lot of ambient noise. The clicking sound comes from the actuator arm assembly returning to its start position because it does not understand which track to read next.
It is clearly not something that is a part of the normal functioning of a hard drive. Read more
5. Read Write error
You won’t know it, but software like CrystalDiskInfo will. It’s MIT-licensed, lightweight, and free.
There is a version for macOS known as AmorphousDiskMark.
CrystalDiskInfo constantly measures read and write errors that allow it to predict hard drive failure well in advance.
If you are suspecting that the hard disk is failing and want to know for sure install CrystalDiskInfo and reboot your computer.
If it shows any warning, then immediately back up the data and fix the damaged HDD.
How to Fix a Broken Hard Drive?
If you search the internet you are going to come across quite esoteric advice about How to repair a damaged hard drive – e.g. pack the hard drive in a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze it for 12 hours and then try to read data!
But being engineers and scientists we have to stick to the tried and tested.
a) Boot in safe mode
Safe mode starts the OS but without any driver. This minimizes interference caused to the hard disk due to a new program or update or anti-virus.
- Click Start > Settings
- In Settings select Update and Security > Recovery Advanced Startup > Restart Now
- When the computer restarts Click Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings
- Now press 4 or F4 (you will see that it reads Safe Mode).
- Try to open several files and folders. Remember that the ability of the OS is severely restricted in safe mode. It is meant for maintenance.
If the files and folders open quickly, the issue is probably not with the hard drive but with a faulty power supply or SATA/PATA power cable.
Try and use the hard drive on a different machine or use a different SATA/PATA power cable.
b) Use CHKDSK
CHKDSK or Check Disk is a fix-it tool inside Windows that checks the health of the hard drive. It is a good first step to fix a damaged HDD.
What does it do?
- Fixes logical file system errors
- Creates and displays a hard disk status report
- Can fix a drive-by isolating the bad sectors and moving files from it
How to use it?
Open elevated command prompt, also known as CMD or cmd. Elevated means running it as an administrator.
To do this,
- Click Start and type CMD or cmd.
- Right-click and click on “Run as administrator”
- In the CMD window, type CHKDSK <drive name>: /f /r
- If your computer has drives C, E, and F, then you can’t scan C while the device is on.
- Perform CHKDSK E: /f /r followed by CHKDSK F: /f /r (i.e. CHKDSK of internal partitions first)
- Next type CHKDSK C: /f /r (CHKDSK of system partition)
- The computer will want to reboot (you would be asked to select Y/N) and scan C before the OS boots.
Depending on the number of files in your partitions, it can take a long while to run.
c) Use Stellar Data Recovery Software
Let’s be honest.
If a hard drive is nearing failure and you guess it in the nick of time, you will back up data on an external drive and all will be well.
But all too often you won’t.
CHKDSK may help if only ten sectors have failed, i.e. about 200 MB in a 500 GB drive.
But what if the hard drive goes for a toss? Maybe the actuator arm is broken or the motor or the controller?
If you want to retrieve data from a failed hard drive nothing works better than Stellar Data Recovery Software.
Why is it the best?
Features of Stellar Data Recovery Software:
- Works on all versions of Windows from 7 onwards
- Works on all versions of macOS from 10.11 onwards
- Can recover all types of files—documents, images, media, archive (RAR), music, and video (DOC, XLS, PPT, JPEG, MP4, MP3, AVI, PDF, etc).
- Works with all types of partitions FAT, exFAT, and NTFS
- Supports all types of HDD and SATA, PATA, and SCSI interface
- Offers dual monitor support for fast output
- Free 1 GB recovery and flexible plan thereafter as per need
Stellar Data Recovery Software has a unique 3 step recovery process.
- Download and install the software. Run the software and a wizard will open up. The clean UI guides you through the process.
- Select what you want to recover and click Preview. This allows you to recover important files in a brief time span. Retrieving all data may take a long time.
- Scan and save the output on an external disk or USB drive. You can even save it as an image.
Stellar Data Recovery Software is a Make in India product Indian customers can be confident that they’re using software from a brand that’s been renowned for data recovery for almost 3 decades now. Plus, Stellar has laboratories in 15 major Indian cities, for those cases where your data loss is too complicated for recovery by software, and demands data recovery service.
Also Read: What makes hard drive data recovery complex?
1. Is Stellar Data Recovery Software really free?
Yes, it is absolutely free for up to 1 GB so that you can evaluate the software. At Stellar, we believe you should be allowed to test drive every software. 1 GB is a lot and you can recover important documents for free. No need to keep asking “How to repair a damaged hard drive”. Install and check for yourself.
2. How do you fix a MacOS hard drive problem?
- Open Disk Utility App.
- Select View > Show All Devices
- Select the volume you want to restore and hit Restore
- It will create a copy in the target volume
3. What should I do if the hard drive is making noise?
Immediately stop writing new data.
Copy folders one by one to an external drive or USB.
Of course, copy the most important data first. You are unsure if it will last a day or a month.
4. How to back up regularly?
Windows has inbuilt backup software. Always back up to an external drive. A very large USB drive (256 GB) is most useful for this reason. You could also use third-party software such as AOMEI and R-Drive. Read more.
5. What is the ideal temp of an HDD?
This is often missed. An HDD should operate at no more than 40 C. At least not for long periods. If you live where the weather is warm, consider investing in larger case fans (in case of a desktop) and a cooling pad (in case of a laptop). Read more about how to increase HDD life.