I had a harddrive fail yesterday. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, I’d seen the signs for a day or so.
But I know from experience that non-techies tend to be completely unrealistic when harddrives fail, so I’ll describe what happened, so maybe others will be able to save their data before it’s too late.
This was a laptop. An old one, with an old harddrive.
The first thing that happened was that I was a bit less careful when moving the laptop than I usually am. I thought, hmm, that might not have been smart. In general, you should not shock a harddrive. An average harddrive will survive some shocks just fine, while another - much less severe - will kill it. It depends on the angle of impact, what direction it’s moving, whether or not it’s on, whether or not it’s accessing or writing data as you move it. The worst time to drop a harddrive, is when it’s writing to disk.
And keep in mind that laptops are moved about a LOT more than desktop computers. The more you schlep your laptop around, the shorter lifespan your harddrive will have. Expect to replace your laptop harddrive at least once in the life of the computer. And make sure all your data is backed up. As the harddrive nears the end of it’s life, some data may become inaccessible, but you may not realize. So checking the data is something that was done a lot in the past.
Get into the habit of listening to the harddrive, as it boots up and as you work on the computer. If it starts sounding different, it could be going bad, and you’ll need to do backup IMMEDIATELY.
What happened with this one, was that I was watching video on it, with the video file on the harddrive. And it would stop playing now and then. If I waited, it would start playing again, but I had to rewind a bit to get what I’d missed in the meantime. I didn’t know why in the beginning, this was a Linux machine, so I wondered if it was OS related, or if it was going warm. But then I noticed that the harddrive light (the light that shows you’re accessing the harddrive) was staying solidly lit while the video was stopped.
That’s when I knew the harddrive might fail.
The second day, again watching a video, after having jiggled the harddrive connection (in case it was caused by a loose connection), it happened again, and this time the video didn’t come on. I moved the mouse, and suddenly I’m met by a black screen with white error messages. I was in the middle of a video, and hoped I could get it to work again, so I tried to reboot, but got the message there was no boot disk.
Don’t feel bad for me, I had nothing on that machine I didn’t have a copy of, as far as I can remember.
I just wanted to share how that happened, and to be careful if it happens to you.