A Hard Drive Diagnosis Walk Thru

diagnosis iconHere’s a question that’s job come in via the Contact form that you see pop-up when visiting the site. What I’m going to do is walk you thru the diagnosis and explain how I arrive at my conclusions. You can then apply these to your own diagnoses.

“My hard drive is taking an extremely long time to load files or show the contents of folders. I use my hard drive mostly for music production and eventually when the disk recognises the files, it still can’t open them. It’s taking about 20 minutes for the hard drive to display the contents of larger folders and then nothing can be done to actually open them. Thanks for your help and looking forward to hearing from you soon.”

So what I’ll do here is to walk you through what the likely problems with this hard drive are and tell you what I base my thinking on. In all cases we are going to go with the most likely reasons for the fault.

1. The hard drive takes a very long time to open files and show the contents of directories

This symptom points very strongly to either the drive having bad sectors or a weak read/write head. Bad sectors are the favourite here as hard drives with bad sectors are much more common than hard drives with bad read/write heads (unless your hard drive is a Seagate STxDM001 series which are known to have weak heads).

Bad sectors are parts of the hard drive that the computer finds it difficult to read information from. Data held in a good sector can be read immediately on the 1st attempt but when reading from a bad sector the computer will continuously attempt to re-read the information thus slowing down the whole computer massively. If multiple bad sectors are encountered then the system can grind to a standstill as in the case above.

2. A lack of any other symptoms

The drive is still recognised by the computer – we know this because the user has the ability to look at files and folders which wouldn’t happen if the drive were not recognised. Also the drive is not making any noises like clicks or beeps. This tells us the drive is mechanically sound.

recovering data from a hard driveTherefore the most likely problem with this drive is bad sectors. If bad sectors are not the problem then the other most likely reason is a weak read/write head on the hard drive.

The Recovery of Data from the Drive

Both these problems are best tackled using a specialist hardware approach. Do not use software disk checking tools as they will make the problem considerably worse – see http://www.dataclinic.co.uk/scandisk-chkdsk-disk-checking-repair-software/ for more details.

This type of fault is not one for a DIY data recovery approach, instead I recommend you contact me for further assistance as I’m able to use the above mentioned hardware to retrieve the data.