HDD Repair – Fixing Software And Hardware Faults

by Rod Dunne on September 29, 2010

in Articles, Data Recovery, Hardware

  • Share
  • Share

By using some regular PC repair and maintenance checks and utilities, it should be possible for you to do a HDD repair of bad sectors and some minor mechanical faults. In this article, we’ll take a look at the hardware checks you should perform to start off with, the software repairs you can run and how to do hard drive data recovery when all attempts at repairs have failed.

HDD repair – Checking for mechanical faults

If you are unsure of the issue then it is always worthwhile to begin with considering the possibility of there being a hardware fault. This is important as any damage to the read/write heads, spindle or actuator arm could actually cause more damage to the drive, and loss of data, if you continue to use the disk or attempt hard disk data recovery.

Begin your checks by listening for strange sounds/noises from the disk as it is in operation.

  • Scratching noises may indicate that components have seized up (e.g. the spindle, bearings or actuator).
  • Rattling noises may indicate that internal parts have come loose, perhaps as a result of being dropped or if the drive had been in transit.
  • Clicking noises may indicate that the motor has developed a fault or that a component has came loose.

Proceed with your hard drive repair by switching off the computer completely and opening up its casing. Take out the internal hard drive and remove its external covering. First, check for loose components which can be re-fastened. Look for signs that the actuator arm and discs are misaligned that you can manually repair. If you spot scratches on the disk surface then it is best to seek expert PC repair assistance to get the components fixed.

Put the covering back on the HDD, check all connecting cables are free from pin damage and then ensure all cables are securely fastened. Close up the PC and restart to test if your hard disk repair made any effect. You could also try extracting the internal drive and insert it into hard drive enclosure case in order to connect it to a second PC (more information in our article on hard disk crash data recovery approaches).

External hard drive repair can be done in a similar manner. The one additional check you can make is to also check the USB cable for faults and try using a different USB port (as support may be the issue).

HDD repair – Using software fixes

Once you are sure that there are no mechanical faults, you can begin to run some software checks. Windows provides its own error checking facility for scanning your disk. This utility can find and repair bad sectors on the disk and also check system files (e.g. the file allocation table and master boot record) for any potential corruption or faults.

NOTE: You should not run this hard disk repair utility prior to attempting a hard disk data recovery or other hard drive rescue approaches. The utility can potentially reorder data fragments on the disk in an attempt to repair bad sectors. This could interfere with how data recovery tools operate as they attempt to find file fragments. Therefore, run your hard disk data recovery tool first (see the instructions below in the next section) before attempting to repair bad sectors.

You can run this hard drive repair utility as follows:

  1. Open up Windows Explorer and browse to the drive you want to check.
  2. Right click on the drive and select properties from the context menu.
  3. Go to the properties/tools tab to find the error checking section. At the top of this section is a Check Now button. Click this button.
  4. You’ll be presented with check-boxes to decide what type of scan/repair you wish to do. To begin with an initial analysis, enable the check-box to scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. If this scan does report back issues then you should enable the second check-box to automatically fix file system errors and rerun the scan and repair process.

Hard drive data recovery

If your attempts at HDD repair have not been successful then you should either backup your data (if possible) or do a hard disk data recovery to retrieve your files. If your hard drive is in a healthy state, and Windows is able to start, then you can recover files as follows:

  1. Install a data recovery tool. A superb option would be Remo Undelete.
  2. Once you start up these applications you will be prompted to select a drive for analysis. Pick the disk that you attempted a HDD repair on.
  3. The program will scan the HDD looking for lost or corrupted documents on whatever sectors are readable. A full list of found files will be shown back to you and you then pick the ones you want and copy them to another drive or CD.

See also our post on raw data recovery which details how to use specialist tools for those instances where the hard drive file system has reverted back to a raw format.

Previous post:

Next post: