The greatest fear of the overwhelming majority of computer users, both beginners and experts, is the sudden data loss due to a corrupted hard drive. It can happen to anyone at any given time, while it is literally impossible to predict, except a handful of cases when the drive shows some signs of imminent malfunction.
Let’s take a look at the things you can try in order to achieve a successful data recovery.
1) Using the Windows Disk Defragmenter
This is, by far, the easiest task one can perform. It doesn’t require any level of expertise since, as the name implies, it is a utility provided by the operating system. The success rate is not that high, but there have been cases where it actually helped the hard drive resume its proper function. It is very simple to use, plus it is not very time consuming so it’s worth trying.
2) Diagnostics test
An increasing number of manufacturing companies include a folder full of diagnostic utilities in every hard drive they are selling. Their greatest advantage over computer programs used for every single model, regardless the company, is that they are designed to trace and repair problems using specific methods based on the hard drive’s specifications. In case the diagnostics tools are not present in the purchased hard drive, they are available to download on the company’s support web page.
3) Antivirus & Malware scan
People with even a low level of expertise in computers may consider this suggestion to be irrelevant but a quick search in relevant forums shows that, sometimes, a computer virus or a nasty piece of malware can slow down or even interrupt file transfers and also hinder the overall performance. So, running a scan with an updated antivirus and malware detection software is a process that could revive your hard drive and relieve your frustration.
4) Checking the connection cables
Every hard drive requires two cables. One connecting it to the PSU (power supply unit), and one that allows it to communicate with the computer’s motherboard. Any user with basic knowledge of computer hardware can check if the connections are correct and even replace one or both of them, in order to exclude the possibility of a faulty cable.
5) Using data recovery software
If none of the above methods succeeds in restoring the hard drive’s normal status or at least allowing you to retrieve valuable data, using data recovery software is the only available option. There are many free programs that can be used, some of which are Recuva (for Windows) and TestDisk (for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X). Using one of them or purchasing some other product is up to you to decide.
Following one or more of the aforesaid steps will greatly increase the possibility of recovering files stored in a hard drive that ceased to work properly. If all else fails, it is time to take the computer to some data recovery professionals in your area.
The only precaution that one can take is to do frequent data back ups so that there will always be a copy of everything that the user needs stored in a seperate hard drive.