5 signs that your storage drive is about to fail

It could be your pride and joy in playing, or it could be your essential school kit. It just might be a mundane tool for your job. Whatever its use, computers should work without problem: turn them on and go. Hah, not so fast …

Like all electronic devices, PCs don’t last forever, and the parts inside will eventually fail. While it is easy to replace a broken device, the same cannot be said for the data stored on your machine. It must be said that in modern PCs that rely on solid storage, SSDs are generally more durable than hard drives. SSDs have no moving parts and can withstand accidental drops and other shock and vibration from laptops better than hard drives. However, SSDs can also fail, just like other forms of flash memory.

Here are five signs you should watch out for (or an ear) warning you that your document storage drive is nearing end.

1 – that doesn’t sound good

Modern storage drives are manufactured to very high tolerances, in particular HDDs (HDDs). Although the platters spin at thousands of revolutions per minute and the arms move back and forth in milliseconds, today’s hard drives are designed to be nearly silent in operation.

You might be able to hear a slight whirring and clicking sound while the player is running, but that’s it – so anything louder than that, is a sign that things aren’t going well (or that it isn’t. is just an old design). What if you hear high pitched sounds metallic noises, loud or not, then the player will probably be damaged inside.

The guts of a modern hard drive

Be aware of such signs: the reader may appear to be performing perfectly fine, but it is only a matter of time before it fails outright. There is nothing you can do about it except back up all the important data on it as soon as possible and then replace the drive with a new one.

Optical storage drives, such as DVD-ROM or Blu-ray drives, are much noisier than hard drives, when they are running – you should definitely hear something when it spins the disc, but that should only be the whine of the motors electric and whoosh of the air, being moved by the disc.

But since they’re built to looser tolerances than hard drives, they’ll wear out faster (this is offset by the fact that they’re not used very often). Classic signs to listen to are loud clicks, buzzes, or the storage drive constantly spinning up and down.

Fortunately, since the data is stored on a removable storage medium, a noisy drive should not cause data loss. Having said that, with continued use in this state, the drive might fail so as to damage the drive. As with hard drives, if your optical storage drive starts making loud or weird sounds, don’t ignore it – replace the drive as soon as you can.

Of course, not all storage systems contain moving mechanical parts. Devices that use flash memory, such as SD cards, USB drives, and SSD drives (SSD), are just a collection of chips on a printed circuit board. Needless to say you shouldn’t hear whatever of these.

Nothing here should make noise!

So if your old SSD is making noise, it’s more likely that it’s some other part of the computer that’s doing it. Either that or you have a little glitch problem inside your computer!

Whatever storage drives you have in your system, you should never ignore the unusual sounds that come from them – it could well be electrical noise or a fan that has seen better days, but if it is. is not the case, do not delay in fixing the problem. Back up the data there and replace it as soon as possible.

2 – Where are my data?

And speaking of data protection, another classic sign of your storage drive failure is when a file or multiple files just went missing. The information is not stored as a continuous stream of bits: instead, it is presented in a collection of small blocks of data.

These blocks can be physically next to each other in the drive carrier or they can be scattered around. All it takes is one of those blocks to be damaged, and those precious bits will be lost for good. And when you search for the file, then the computer operating system tries to find all the blocks that make up the file.

Without the full dataset, the file will be incomplete and the operating system may report it as corrupt or state that he couldn’t find it at all. NAND flash physically wears out every time a block of data is written or erased from the drive, and after so many write / erase cycles, the block will stop working.

Having just one or two NAND chips, USB drives can’t offer much wear protection

SSD manufacturers use a multitude of tricks (such as over-supply and wear leveling) to minimize this problem, but they vary in effectiveness. USB drives generally have a much shorter lifespan than SSDs, so you should expect them to fail without much warning.

So if a drive starts losing the odd file here and there, you should consider replacing it fairly quickly – depending on the age of the drive, the need to do so may not be as urgent as with a hard drive. screaming, but don’t ignore flaws. Again, backup all vital data stored there. Oh and you should never use a USB flash drive as a critical backup device! Stick to hard drives and cloud storage for this job.

3 – Boy, it takes its time …

While it’s not as immediately obvious as a drive screaming its death throes in your computer’s bowels, a sudden change in overall performance can be a sign of your storage drive failure. PC hardware like CPUs, RAMs or GPUs do not slow down over time. Besides the risk of cooling fans malfunctioning and chips slowing down because of it, the hardware should work the same. On the software side, however, this is where things can take a turn for the worse due to an accumulation of data, more programs loading in the background, and the operating system. bogged down after years of updates.

But if the machine was running happily one day, and it suddenly took a long time to boot or access files, there is clearly something wrong. Hard drives eventually fail and SSDs can fail and show these signs in different ways as well. Errors involving bad blocks will appear in both types of storage and this is usually where it takes an unusually long time to read or write a file and the process ends in failure, so the system ends up giving up with an error message.

When you have just one of the those kind of days. Credit: sematadesign

Of course, as we just mentioned, it could well be a software glitch, such an OS update messing up a setup somewhere, or even malware that makes the processor run excessively in background. But if you haven’t updated anything recently and the computer is well protected, unexpected performance changes may be due to the failure of the primary storage drive.

Determining whether this is the case or not isn’t easy, and we wouldn’t recommend replacing a hard drive / SSD just because things got slow. On the other hand, if the drive is removable, such as a USB stick, a rapid drop in speed is a good indicator that it is not very healthy.

4 – Goodbye, start the player

Many of us have experienced this at some point as it is a common situation with PC ownership. One day everything is fine, but the next time you turn it on, a dreaded BIOS message appears on your screen: “Insert the startup disk and press any key, “

Instead of seeing the operating system logo appear, you find yourself staring at a dark statement. There may be other explanations for this. For example, this can be caused when a new BIOS has just been installed. But if there haven’t been any changes or updates made, it may be a sign that the boot reader has decided to head to Valhalla. Or at the very least it shows signs of corruption where you might be able to get your data back, but it’s time to back up and get a new drive.

Before booting fails completely, you may also see your PC crash during boot randomly. This is a sign that your reader might be developing a problem.

If the case is that some of the data on the drive is corrupted, a recommended step is to remove the hard drive / SSD and place it in another computer as a secondary drive. If it is able to test the player or read the content correctly, the player can be reused.

There is also the possibility, albeit small, that the device’s boot data has been affected by malware; in this case, putting it in another machine could also endanger this one.

It could be argued that checking a hard drive or SSD on another computer for errors should only be done if you are certain that it cannot infect that machine. It is therefore recommended to check the second computer for malware beforehand.

The inexplicable loss of a boot drive can be extremely frustrating to resolve and since it is not an uncommon problem (although it is definitely better with SSDs) the best way to deal with it is to take preventative measures. : ie, just have the operating system on one drive and store all important files on another (or always keep a separate backup of critical files).

5 – Glitches in the matrix

The last sign we’ll talk about, for a Dodo-esque storage drive, is perhaps the most indeterminable. In other words, if you experience these particular symptoms, then could be the faulty drive, but there are a myriad of other causes that should be eliminated first.

We’re referring to those situations where your computer just gets by – in the case of Windows, that’s the infamous blue screen of death (BSOD). This screen is displayed by the operating system when it has reached a point where it is simply unable to continue to function properly.

The latest version of Windows tries to provide a little convenience by displaying a QR code that you can scan with a smartphone. It will then load a web page offering advice on the source of the problem and how to fix it.

Most of the advice is to make software changes like uninstalling new programs or drivers as these are the main culprits when it comes to getting a BSOD. But if it was a faulty storage drive that is the real cause, then no amount of software shenanigans will help.

Just like with bootable drives that go missing, unexplained system crashes are rather difficult to analyze – it could well be due to a failed storage drive, but you can only be sure if you’ve checked all other possible causes.

All good things come to an end

Modern computers are truly engineering marvels – they surprisingly complex and generally operate without problems for long periods of time. However, there will always be an end to such smooth browsing, as all storage devices have a limited lifespan.

Whether it’s a mechanical device or a solid-state device, the components inside wear out and eventually fail. Use the same hard drive or SSD for long enough, and it will stop working at some point. Hope you experience one of the signs we have covered above, to warn you that action is needed soon.

We’re going to sign this article (yeah, that’s a bad pun …) with a piece of advice: it’s always better to prepare than get caught. And by that we mean that you need to take regular backups of your important files, and if they really important, save the backups!

You can easily replace a storage drive – the same can’t be said for data.

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