Hard Drive Crash
There is a difference between an operating system crash and a hard drive crash. If your operating system crashes, whether you are using Windows, Linux or Mac, that is a Logical Failure. If the hard drive itself malfunctions, that is a Physical failure. Either way your data is not readily accessible but it is still there. Of course, you should have a backup plan and an image of your computer just in case but if you do not; there is still hope for your precious Gigabytes of data you may have stored on your computer through a data recovery solution.
The best way to prevent damage from a hard disk crash is to take a proactive approach and back up the data stored on the drive. One of our favorite backup programs is the Acronis True Image backup utility.
Determine what is Causing the Crash
The first thing you need to do is figure out if the crash is caused by a physical or logical failure. That is the tricky part made easier by the Disk Doctors Drive Manager that monitors your hard drive and lets you know about potential problems before they happen. If your computer crashes, it simply will not boot to the operating system. You can get the same errors if the crash is caused by a physical or logical failure. If your computer will not boot and you hear a grinding, clicking or whirring noise, that is a good sign that it is caused by a physical drive failure. At this point you should stop trying to boot the computer and do not try to reload the operating system.
Physical Hard Drive Failure
If your hard drive crash is caused by a malfunction of the hard drive itself, there is still a very good possibility that the data is still intact and accessible. You will know if it is a physical failure by the noise the drive will make. You will hear a clicking, clunking, grinding or whirring sound coming from the hard drive. Do not mistake the sounds for a malfunctioning cooling fan. Carefully open the case and listen close to the drive.
If it sounds something like this, it is more than likely a physical hard drive failure. This drive is still functioning but by the way it sounds, its days are very limited. Notice the grinding, pinging, clicking and whirring sounds the drive is making.
If you can still boot the computer but the drive is making a lot of noise, you could still get an image of the drive or clone it to a new hard drive but that is risky. Do not try to start the computer and copy the files to an external drive because that may be too much stress on the failing hardware. The best bet is to remove the hard drive and put it into a different system to retrieve the important data from the drive with a Data Recovery Solution.
If you can retrieve the data, great – problem solved right? Now all you have to do is buy a new hard drive and reinstall your operating system and all of the applications. That is not a fun task. If you were able to retrieve the data, you may still be able to take an image or clone of the drive and transfer the image to a new drive using Acronis True Image 2011 or Norton Ghost. It is worth a try unless you like reloading Windows.
It is true that today’s hard drives are much more reliable than they were 25 years ago when the personal computers hit the market, hard drives are still one of the weakest components in your system.
If the physical hard drive crash is so bad that the computer will not boot or another system cannot see the hard drive, then you may need to send the drive out to a data recovery solution like Disk Doctor or Stellar Data Recovery. They both have an excellent reputation for retrieving data from a crashed hard drive. It is not cheap but how much is your data worth?
Logical Hard Drive Failure
A logical failure occurs when the hard drive is healthy but you cannot boot into the operating system. This can be caused by many different factors. A virus, system driver conflict, human error or a software malfunction can cause a logical hard drive crash. When this type of failure happens, imaging or cloning the computer will do no good. Do not try to reinstall Windows or run the useless operating system tools like CHKDSK because those tools can just make matters worse. You will need a software data recovery solution from Stellar or Disk Doctor to retrieve your data.
Just because you cannot access your data on a crashed hard drive does not mean that it is not still present on the drive. What you do from here depends on the importance of the data that is stored on your computer. If you are like most people in this technological age, part of your life is stored on your computer and that data is important. I hope that if you have a hard drive crash you can retrieve your precious data. Hard drives do crash and the best way to protect your data is with a proactive approach that is to backup, image and backup some more.