Why do hard drives fail? Causes and Solutions

Hard drives are mechanical devices and these are subject to wear and tear. About 60% of hard drive failures occur from predictable mechanical failure, while 40% of failures occur from misuse. A hard drive failure could occur due to any of the reasons:

Electronic Failure

  • The BIOS cannot detect the hard drive.
  • Hard drive may not be able to spin up.
  • Sudden start error.


The CPU is not capable of generating the power supply required for the hard drive to function normally, the voltage sent may be too high or too low. This error can also occur when using an unreliable power source that provides interrupted power.


Make sure the system hardware is receiving the required power supply. By using a voltage regulator or UPS you can prevent power changes from affecting your equipment.

Mechanical or internal failure

  • The disk emits noises or squeaks when starting the computer or when accessing information
  • Files or folders are missing or found to be corrupt.
  • The system crashes or completely freezes.
  • It takes too long to turn on the computer.
  • It takes a long time to open or save files.


This error happens when there are bad sectors on the hard drive. The spindle motor stops working, the circuit board is damaged, or the read/write head is not moving properly scratching the disk platters when trying to access or save data. Mechanical failures can occur when equipment is dropped, bumped, or moved while it is powered on or processing data. The virus attack can erase the data on the hard drive, disrupt the functioning of the hard drive or cause the file system to get corrupted.


Work properly with the equipment avoiding falls or accidental blows. Update the system regularly or weekly, run an antivirus program frequently, replace the hard drive after more than 5 years of use.

Firmware Failures (Manufacturer Software)

  • The hard drive is undetectable or not recognized by the System at all.
  • The system cannot boot or hangs during the boot process.


This problem could occur on a new hard drive or after it has been used for a few days. There may be a chance that the drive came with manufacturing faults.


If the drive is within the warranty period, you can contact the seller or even the manufacturer of the hard drive and ask for a return or exchange of the drive. Both the seller and the manufacturer do not offer any guarantee of data security. It is advisable to save the information contained in the hard drive before making the change or return.

Unit overheating

  • The computer fan is not working or is moving very slowly.
  • A sound similar to a mouse click is heard coming from inside the computer.


It is one of the most common problems that causes hard drive failure, due to the lack of ventilation of the equipment caused by working on surfaces that block the air from entering the fan, this can happen for example when working with a laptop on a pillow . Inadequate ventilation or fan defects cause the system to overheat to the peak point where it leads to hard drive failure or other hardware damage to the computer.


Make sure that the CPU fans are working very well, check that there is enough ambient temperature to protect the peripherals of the computer.

Damaged or corrupt files

  • The operating system cannot boot properly, displaying error messages.
  • Certain applications cannot be launched.
  • The system shuts down suddenly.


If the computer shuts down unexpectedly either because of a power outage, or because the drive is unplugged from the power source, this could cause certain files to become corrupted. Computer viruses are also capable of deleting or damaging important system files.


Always properly shut down a computer. It is recommended to close all open programs before shutting down the system. Use a UPS to prevent your computer from shutting down unexpectedly if the power goes out. Run an antivirus program regularly.

Human Errors


Human errors can cause serious system damage, especially if you accidentally modify system registry settings. Do not manually change the attributes or location of system files or program applications. Improper installation of the operating system also causes the computer to malfunction.


In most cases, it is easier to reinstall the malfunctioning operating system or application than it is to find or repair the damaged files. If you have several recovery dates, you can revert the configuration of the equipment to a certain date.

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