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How to Protect Yourself from Hard Drive Failure

Recently, we’ve written quite a bit about improving your computer’s performance, including information to help you choose the right processor and determine how much RAM your computer needs. Today, however, we want to talk about one of the scariest aspects of your computing life: hard drive failure.

When it comes to fears concerning the health of our computers, the death of a hard drive is second only to a viral infection. While the end of a hard drive’s life cycle doesn’t carry the added threat of some unsavory character having access to your personal information, in the worst cases it can mean you will lose that information.

So, to help you ensure your personal files always remain safe and available, let’s take a look at the signs of a failing hard drive, and what you can do to avoid disaster.

Filing troubles

A computer that struggles to open or save files, or that unexpectedly ‘loses’ files is a strong indication of a failing hard drive. Another dead giveaway? Previously healthy files that the computer has suddenly flagged as ‘corrupted.’

System Crashes

If your computer suddenly develops the habit of freezing up, suddenly rebooting or displaying error screens, there’s a good chance your hard drive is to blame.


When your computer starts making strange noises (that aren’t coming through the speakers), you know something isn’t right. If you hear grinding or a lot of clicking, your hard drive is probably living on borrowed time! As soon as you hear these sounds, you should power down your computer and begin working on a replacement solution.

Software can help diagnose the problem

If you suspect your hard drive is nearly ready to ‘give up the ghost,’ but haven’t yet heard the tell-tale (and catastrophic!) sounds of distress mentioned above, there are a number of software programs that will test your hard drive for errors. These are best run at the very first indication you might be in trouble, to give you as much time as possible to prepare.

Backups are the best medicine for an aging hard drive

Now, don’t misunderstand us: backups will not actually help a hard drive that’s falling apart, but they will protect you and your system from the worst effects of a drive failure. As we mentioned in our Setting Up a New Computer blog post, cloud syncing apps like Google Drive and Dropbox are a great, convenient way to store your most important files. If these programs don’t suit your needs, we recommend you purchase a large external drive, and schedule regular backups.

What standard backups typically don’t save is your installed programs. If you want to absolutely minimize downtime in the event of hard drive failure, you’ll want to clone your hard drive from time to time.

And remember, if you ever have questions about your computer’s health, or need help replacing or backing up your computer’s hard drive, we’re always here to give you a hand! Just get in touch with your local Friendly PC and we’ll help make sure your files and memories stay safe!