Most people use external hard drives for performing backup of critical data or to increase the storage capacity of their computer. If something unfortuniate happens to your external hard drive and your computer is not able to detect it, chances are you may end up losing all your data stored on the hard drive. However, you should be ready for such a situation. You need to know the different situations that can cause an external hard drive to fail. When you are aware of it, you can safeguard your hard drive and prolong its life. Here are the main three reasons on why your external hard drive can conk off without warning:
Your hard drive can malfunction if you do not take care of it properly. If you keep the drive in such a place where it can easily come in contact with intense weather conditions like heat and cold, the hard drive may not work when you connect it to the system. Physical damage like dropping a hard drive is another factor that can cause your hard drive to fail. When a hard drive is dropped, the motor and platters can get knocked offline rendering the drive inoperable. The motor is what the platters sit on, inside the motor are bearings which keeps the spinning smooth and quiet. If the drive is not spinning most likely the bearings are damaged. At this point you will most likely need to assistance of a hard drive recovery specialist. Or if you are technically inclined there is a great guide all about the inner workings of hard disks at storagereview.com. Or just do what I recommend and use a recommended DVD data burning software to backup your critical info to removable storage.
2. Disturbing the hard drive when it is connected
When you connect the drive to your computer via USB or Firewire, your device is detected and it is shown on the interface of the computer. While it is detected, the disks present inside the hard drive start spinning. Also, you will hear a humming sound or you will feel the drive vibrating when you place your hand on it. This happens when the drive is read or something files are written on it. When the drive is connected to the computer and is functioning, you should not move the drive. If you try to move the drive while it is writing or reading, the inner disks can rub against with each other as there is hardly any distance between the disks. The disks can scratch and you will not be able to write or read anything from the scratched portion of the drive and eventually it can become unusable. It is also recommended to keep the external enclosure on a flat surface at all times, mainly when it is being used. I do have a few hard drive that I store vertically and do not have an issue with them. The main point here is to not disturbe the drive while it’s in use.
3. Disconnecting the drive improperly
Usually, external hard drives can be connected to the USB, eSATA or FireWire slot. Many times, people simply disconnect the drive by unplugging the cable from the computer while it is in use (files being written to/files being removed). This can cause read/write errors down the road. If this happens, you will not be able to see any of the contents stored on your hard drive on your PC even though there is no problem with the hard drive. In this case a data recovery cablemight come in handy because these devices can easily hook up via USB so you can access the corrupted data and potentially fix it.
When you unplug your hard drive, you should first remove the hardware by selecting the ‘eject’ or ‘safely remove the hardware’ option through your Windows or Mac. After you do this, you can disconnect the drive by unplugging the cable gently from the PC.
If you are in dire straights and need to recover the data then check out the video below which goes over a way to fix and restore data from an external hard drive.
If all else fails there are plenty of forums with hardware specialilsts on hand. I acually used this thread to fix one of my HD’s a few years ago. And if you thought that was useful, make sure to check the Slice of Life website! We have plenty of useful and entertaining articles waiting for you!