External Hard Drive Repair: Doing a Full System Analysis

by Rod Dunne on November 22, 2011

in Hardware

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Any external hard drive repair requires looking at all the possible hardware and software faults affecting your drive. In this post I’ll show you a checklist of different issues which you should be looking out for. This begins with hardware checks which should always be done first just in case there are mechanical faults that could lead to data loss.

External hard drive repair – Hardware checks

  • Listen to the drive as it is running. Hardware damage will often be indicated by unusual sounds. Most motors will make clicking noises when they start to fail. Likewise, seized components such as the spindle or read/write head make grinding noises as they struggle to operate. It is best to get an expert to look at these types of repairs.
  • Check all cabling. Make sure the pins on your connectors have not been pushed in or damaged. Try using a second USB cable just in case you suspect this could be to blame. Try using different USB ports or even different PC as these may be at fault.
  • Clear out all of the air vents on the external hard drive enclosure of any dust or blockages which could be causing internal components to overheat.

External hard drive repair – Software checks

  • Open the BIOS menu as the system is starting up. Check to see if the external disk is being detected.
  • Scan the drive sectors for signs of any corruption. Windows has its own disk checking utility which can scan for and attempt to repair bad sectors on the disk. This is accessible via the properties dialog for your hard disk (tools tab, select the Check Now button).
  • Don’t discount the possibility of there being operating system problems affecting the hard drive. Open the Device Manager program and check for any signs of hardware conflicts or device driver issues. The troubleshooting Wizard on this tool can propose some different solutions to try out.

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