“My laptop died!” I texted to Morris. He replied “What do you mean, it died?” The screen went grey and then I got a message that said it could not find the operating system. I didn’t know how else to describe it. However, after a very brief discussion, I found out. My hard drive crashed.
It’s not like my hard drive crashed “out of the blue.” It had provided the appropriate warning signs of a physical failure; it infrequently made a high pitched whiny noise sometimes followed by a banging noise that sounded like car engine problems. But it never made the noises when I brought it to our techs for diagnosis. It was only after the crash, and knowing the correct terminology (“hard drive crash”) to Google it, that I found out that clicking, clunking, grinding, pinging or whirring sounds are likely the sounds indicating an imminent hard disk failure.
The hard disk can be replaced and the operating system and software reloaded, though it can be very expensive and time consuming. However, much of the data – including your holiday photos, family movies, business documents and other personal documents that you accumulate over time – can never be replaced. Save yourself the headache of dealing with a crash by taking some precautions.
Here’s what I learned. To improve your PC’s performance and minimize the chance of a crash, you should keep your computer away from direct sunlight and make sure that it is properly ventilated so it stays cool. Prevent dust buildup on the outside and inside of the computer (but leave it to a professional to clean the inside.) You should defragment your hard disk once or twice a month to reorganize otherwise randomly scattered data; this will both make it easier for your hard drive to process data and it will make it easier to recover the data if your hard drive does crash. On Windows 7, click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, Systems Tools, Disk Defragmenter, and click on Defragment Disk to start this process. Depending on how large and how full your disk is, this process can take hours. It is best to do this overnight.
Besides physical hardware malfunction, the other major reason for a hard drive failure is software corruption. To prevent this, keep your antivirus software updated and run regular scans for viruses and malware which can corrupt data and operating system. Also, delete unnecessary files from your computer and clear out all “temp” files, but don’t randomly delete files because you might delete files that are important for your computer’s processes. Keep your operating system and software drivers patched with all the latest vendor updates to insure stability and security and maximize performance. You may get the same errors if the crash is caused by a physical failure or software corruption so it is a good idea to consult with a professional before attempting to troubleshoot a problem yourself.
If you think your computer has crashed, you should immediately turn off your computer to decrease the chance of permanently losing the information that is stored on it; there is a chance that the data might still be recoverable from the hard drive.
To be prepared in the event that your hard drive crashes, keep your install discs available to make it more convenient to install the operating system and software on the new hard drive. And, most important of all, to prevent the possibility of losing your data if the data cannot be recovered from your old hard drive, you absolutely must back up regularly. Use an external hard drive, USB flash drive, or internet based backup service.
When all efforts at preventing a crash fail, and the backup you thought was occurring regularly was not, and a mental meltdown is coming on because you need your data, you might want to consider a data recovery specialist (DRS). A DRS is trained to perform a variety of technical procedures to recover data from seemingly non-recoverable hard disks. One of the most experienced data recovery service providers is Kroll Ontrack. Aleem Quadri, Stemp Systems CTO, was trained by Ontrack to perform some of the possible recovery techniques at Stemp’s office or in the field thus establishing Stemp Systems as an Ontrack Data Recovery Certified Partner.
If your hard drive crashes, you won’t really care whether it was a physical crash or software corruption. You’ll just want to know how quickly you can get your computer up and running and if/when you can get your data back. Following this advice will help to shorten the recovery time and ease the headache you’ll suffer if it is YOUR hard drive that crashes.