How to Avoid Hard Drive Failures by Checking and Fixing Disk Errors in Windows 10

Hard Drive Failures – Hard drives have an average lifespan of four years. Make sure to keep an eye on the health of your hard drives before they fail and delete all your data along with them.

Hard drives have a limited lifespan. Depending on your usage, you’ll get about four years of use out of a hard drive before showing signs of wear. Your hard drive failure symptoms include erratic or slow performance, data loss, failed read/write operations, clicks and buzzes, and random crashes. The sooner you diagnose and repair or replace your hard drive, the better; otherwise, you could have a faulty hard drive and no way to extract your data.

System drives can also get corrupted due to non-mechanical reasons. Either way, Windows includes tools that scan your drive for errors and attempt to fix them. Depending on your computer and hard drive, you may even be able to use the manufacturer’s diagnostic tool or a tool built into your BIOS. We’ll show you how to use all three in this tutorial.

Top 8 Causes of Hard Drive Failure

Top 8 Causes of Hard Drive Failure

Hard drive failure does not happen by chance; it has a cause, and there are several types: mechanical failure, electronic failure, and logical failure. We explain where your hard drive’s failure can come from to prevent it better.

1. A Violent Accident – Hard Drive Failures

Accidentally dropping a hard drive can cause mechanical failure. Concretely, a violent blow will cause contact between the read heads and the platters inside the hard disk, even an alteration of its surface. A scratched or damaged platter is potentially an irreparable deletion of data. And bad read heads make a hard drive unusable because it can’t access data. If mechanical parts sometimes need to be changed in a clean room, the most durable approach will be recovering the data and restoring it to a new hard drive.

2. Repeated Vibration – Hard Drive Failures

Mechanical hard drives are designed to withstand the vibrations they generate during use. On the other hand, they are sensitive to external vibrations and prolonged use. Examples? Work on your laptop on a plane, train, bus, or car. Regular beats on the move are likely to affect the mechanical elements of your hard drive in the same way as a hard knock. It should not prohibit work on the move as a preventive measure but involve greater vigilance in travel turbulence and duration of use.

3. Humidity – Hard Drive Failures

In general, electronics and water do not mix well. And this applies to the mechanical hard drive, except specific IP68 certified models protected against water up to 3 meters deep. However, water immersion is not the problem that threatens the hard drive the most: humidity threatens it, and more precisely, the risk of internal condensation. The most dangerous cocktail for the hard drive is the cold + humidity combo when the latter goes into a liquid state inside the device itself in an environment below 5°C. The consequences of contact between electrical components and water? Oxidation and short circuit.

4. Exposure to High Temperatures – Hard Drive Failures

If we recommend an environment at room temperature for the excellent conservation of a hard disk, it also does not support high heat any more than cold. In data centers, the temperature varies from 15 to 32°C. The ideal temperature would even be 27°C to optimize electricity consumption. The truth is that beyond 40 or even 50°C, problems accumulate: performance degradation, data loss, etc. In particular, the phenomenon of thermal expansion impacts and damages the components. And it can significantly reduce the life of the hard drive.

5. The Effects of a Magnetic Field – Hard Drive Failures

Hard drives are designed to withstand most magnetic fields encountered. Their coating protects them from magnets, and the internal hard drives are less exposed because the PC tower builds an extra wall. But a very close exposure (less than 20 cm) to a strong magnetic field will damage the hard disk and, in particular, its reading heads (lock, shift). And it can reach the surface of platters and lead to data loss.

6. An Electrical Incident – Hard Drive Failures

An electric shock threatens the hard drive with electronic failure. How did it happen? During a substantial disturbance of electrical current, such as a storm, a micropower cut, or even an electrostatic discharge. Add to this a too hasty restart of the device, and you get a short circuit or alteration of the electronic components of a hard drive. Result: it no longer responds and may even give off a burning smell, facilitating fault diagnosis.

7. Normal Wear and Tear – Hard Drive Failures

A hard drive has a theoretical lifespan, and each use brings it closer to the end. Behind this fatalistic observation hides a reality: the moving parts used at high speed are damaged over time due to friction. The life expectancy of a mechanical hard drive is thus estimated at ten years. For an SSD hard disk, the lifetime is expressed in the volume of write cycles. Beyond that, the Flash memory can no longer support new data.

8. Human Error -Hard Drive Failures

You are also a potential danger to your hard drive! Apart from possible household accidents (fall, drink of water, etc.), you can damage your device by mishandling computer properties or inadvertently deleting system files. We will then speak of a logical failure. A user can also choose the wrong power supply or open a malware-infected file that will spread throughout the hard drive.

4 Techniques to Anticipate Hard Drive Failures

There are some tips, best practices, and good ideas to prevent various breakdowns.

1 Be Smart

SMART is a self-monitoring technique implemented in many hard drives. Different software provides access to it to obtain a complete list of indicators on the operation of the disk (rate of reading errors, number of reallocated sectors, internal temperature, etc. mix. Based on the readings, the administrator can assess the failure risk level and take necessary actions before a failure occurs.

2 Warmer and More Stable

The temperature can significantly impact the hard disk, but its variation must also be taken into account. Although designed to operate in an environment between 5°C and 60°C, the drives do not withstand sudden temperature increases. Stability, therefore, remains the best ally of the hard drive. While servers were traditionally kept at 20°C, today, they are recommended at 27°C. Harmless to the hardware, this boost also provides significant cooling savings.

3 Each Disk has its own Workload

Not all hard drives are designed to handle the same workload. Some industries can, for example, support up to 180 TB of data per year, while others create for more intensive loads exceeding 500 TB per year. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure you’re using the correct hard drive for your workload, both for cost reasons and maximum longevity.

4 AC/DC Storage

What if rethinking power distribution was the last step toward optimizing hard drives? Most, if not all, data centers run on AC power. However, the elements that make up the server, including the hard disks operating on direct current, involve different stages of current transformation. Hosting providers like OVH, Microsoft, and Google are developing new feeding methods to simplify the feeding process. “Reducing the number of devices means reducing the risk of breakdowns.


Hard drives are not infallible, far from it. Last January, the American host Back Blaze published the 2nd edition of its barometer on the annualized failure rates of its hard drives. The backup specialist has approximately 40,000 hard drives in its storage arrays or more than 100 petabytes of data.

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