The Four Most Common Reasons for Hard Drive Failure

Hard disks or drive hard disks are non-volatile data storage devices that utilize magnetic recording systems for storing digital data. An inner metal box contains a number of rigid plates or disks connected by low-speed shafts that are rotating at high speeds. Every disk has a read/write head atop the disk’s side, which floats on a thin sheet of air produced by the spinning disk.

Learn how to detect hard drive failures in order to perform backups on time.

  • Parts of a hard drive
  • Logical errors

They are the most common and can be present in both hard drives and flash drives or USB, and are failures of the hard drive’s file systems or software problems; it is also due to human failures. These failures can prevent access to a file, folders appear where their content disappeared or the operating system does not detect the hard disk because the partition table is damaged. They can be produced by:

  • Virus or malware.
  • Data erasure.
  • Data corruption.
  • Format us.
  • Partition tables that have been corrupted or damaged.

If a logical error occurs, that calls“windows detected a hard disk problem” it is recommended not to use or save data on the hard disk (and even less to perform a format or use programs to try to repair it), since each write will make it difficult to recover the files by overwriting the affected sectors.

The best thing in these cases is to use programs like “Photo Rec” (available for Linux and Windows). These programs are capable of repairing faulty partition tables or reading the contents of the device bit by bit to try to recover the information.

Electronic errors

These types of errors are also very common, in this case the hard disk PCB is damaged and it is more difficult to repair since we would have to purchase another identical hard disk to change the board and repair it. Although in most cases this type of error causes some sector to get damaged when the reader head rubs against the disks and is defective, so we should use a data recovery program. They are usually produced by:

  • Temperature and humidity fluctuations that occur suddenly.
  • Dips or surges in voltage (voltage peaks).

If this type of error occurs, it is not advisable to try to start the burned hard disk since it would damage it even more and it is not advisable to open the hard disk since a speck of dust could damage the data contained in the magnetic disks.

It would be advisable to turn off the computer and disconnect the hard drive to have it repaired.

Mechanical errors

These errors are the most difficult to repair, and we can detect them when the BIOS does not detect the hard disk, the hard disk makes noises or produces strong vibrations or even the surface of the magnetic plates is damaged. They are usually produced by:

  • Falls or bumps.
  • Bad sectors.
  • Manufacturing faults.
  • Reading heads failure or breakage.
  • Wear or corrosion.
  • Stop or failure of the motor that performs the rotation to read the data.

Head Crash (It occurs when the reading heads land on the magnetic discs scratching the surface and data recovery would be practically impossible).

In this case, it is best not to try to fix it so as not to damage it more and take it to a company specialized in data recovery since they have the necessary tools and spare parts to carry out the repair, although this is usually expensive.

Firmware errors

These types of errors are more difficult to detect, since the operating system and the BIOS are not capable of detecting it. In this case the hard disk will not make strange noises but it will turn on. They can be recognized by:

  • The hard disk does not start but the motor turns and the read heads move.
  • The operating system and BIOS do not recognize the hard drive.
  • BIOS recognize the hard disk with 0gb of capacity and without being able to access the data.
  • Some hard drives have bugs in their firmware.
  • The advisable thing in these cases is not to use the hard disk since it could be unusable and without being able to recover the information.
  • To solve this problem we must update the firmware.


It is always advisable to make backup copies of our important data; a hard drive can fail at any time and without warning (even if it is relatively new).

You have already learned how to detect the most common hard drive failures, now it is you who must anticipate a possible data loss.

And have you ever had a great loss of data? If so, tell us your case in the comments and what your recommendations would be.