How can I tell if my hard drive is failing or has failed?

Software and hardware problems may cause identical symptoms with a hard drive. It may be necessary to rule out the software causes before confirming that a hardware issues exists.

  1. Clicking – indicates a probable head crash, may also indicate electrical issues or damage to the platters (can also be an aftermath of dropping.) This will also have a hardware cause.
  2. BSODs – can be during boot, while running an application, can also be associated with corruption, viruses, Trojans, etc. (i.e. software or hardware.) Rule out software causes. Run appropriate hard drive diagnostics.
  3. New message indicating drive is not formatted (can be caused by software or by electrical surges)
  4. Boot loops – possible virus or Trojan in the boot sector
  5. System lock ups and freezes – possible bad sectors or can be software or resources related
  6. Drive not found – Check connectors (SATA and Power), BIOS settings, RAID settings if appropriate
  7. Operating System not found – Check BIOS settings, possibly a Hard Drive priority cause