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When did you last experience a complete hard disk failure?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / December 7, 2005 8:00 AM PST

When did you last experience a complete hard disk failure, where it was unsalvageable?

Last week (what happened?)
Last month (what happened?)
2 to 6 months ago (what happened?)
7 to 12 months ago (what happened?)
1 to 2 years ago (what happened?)
3 to 5 years ago (what happened?)
More than 5 years ago (what happened?)
I?ve been lucky, I've never experienced one

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I've been lucky
by jas0nhe / December 7, 2005 8:53 AM PST

I don't know how, but I've never experienced one (and, of course, don't plan to ;-)). Could it be because I don't use many programs other than the basics like Microsoft Word and such?


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HD Failure
by donaldsn / December 13, 2005 2:42 AM PST
In reply to: I've been lucky

My hard drive crashed and no I did not have a backup. My data was cloned and usable, but my program files were not, this lead to a search for the originals most of which I did have some I did not .

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If you marked that you've been lucky, then probably
by SherryB / December 8, 2005 3:25 AM PST

You haven't been using computers for very long, or you tend to changeout your computer for a new one when its 2 years old or less. If you've been using a computer that is more than 2 years old, then you're truly lucky.

I buy and manage the computers for a mid-sized business, and we have a hard disk failure about once a year, always on a workstation that is somewhere between 2-4 years old.

Strangely, our failures are always complete, but we don't store anything important on the workstations' hard drives, so data recovery is not an issue.

And it seems like the newer, higher capacity hard disks are going to be more delicate when they start to age than the ones in "the old days" of 2.5GB and smaller. We have some 7-8 year old 2.5GB drives still spinning in some workstations that we use for automated processes.

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by jas0nhe / December 8, 2005 9:53 PM PST

I'm 14 years old, and I've been using computers since... oh about 8 years or so... more frequently now than that long ago, but never a crash that was this serious.

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Hard Disk Failure
by richardkwan / December 8, 2005 3:42 AM PST

I got a replacement from Maxtor but all data was gone. My son lost his entire homework, luckily only for his video projects and he has a backup on DV tapes.

I use Raid 5 for my business, it's inevitable to spend this money for business. Luckily that save me a awful lot of problems as I have a couples of HD failures. Now my kid learn a lesson, back up all those homeworks that is irreplaceable.

You can IM with me @

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new protsessor
by ttameri / December 8, 2005 5:52 PM PST

Last monday I bought new used protsessor AMD Duron 1600Mhz. By my mainbord manula it should support this new protsessor (mainbord chaintech 7AIVL). Before I had AMD Duron 800Mhz. I intall the new protsessor and BIOS recordnise it as Athlon protsessor and therefore I can't install new OP system (OP system couldn't copy some of imprtant file and it failture). So I ried to update BIOS but I couldn't find suitable software. I tred many times and different ways to insatll new OP system but it not copy some file (like shall32.dll). So thursday I turn on my computer and there was black screen and computer makes terrible noise as peeping.It not let me even BOIS. I make COMOS cleening but same thing. I think this adventure cost me my new protessor or mainbord - I haven't figure that out yet. I will but my old protsessor on then we see.

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HD failures
by davide149 / December 8, 2005 5:55 PM PST

I have had two complete HD failures, both more than 5 years ago. The second time, I sent the HD to a professional recovery company, but nothing could be recovered. Since I tend to backup more often.

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Had Two Disks Fail
by richard-s / December 8, 2005 6:31 PM PST
In reply to: HD failures

The first HD failed shortly after installation, but after I had trusted it with my backup files so that I could reorganize the original disk.

The disk stopped spinning. (No noise and you could feel no vibration.)

I removed the disk, wrapped it carefully and put it into the kitchen freezer overnight.

Next day, it worked for long enough for me to retrieve most of the files.

The second HD was hit by an incompatibility:

It was in an external case with USB connection to a Windows 98se PC. I had partitioned it into two "drives." A 2GB FAT16, and a larger "extended" FAT32. It worked fine with the Win98 PC.

When I connected it to a Windows XP PC, that PC failed to read the drives correctly and in trying to "repair" them, trashed the files.

Moral: Use only a single (FAT32) partition.

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Hard drive failures
by mad2332 / December 8, 2005 9:42 PM PST
In reply to: Had Two Disks Fail

i have bought 2 160 gig serial ata drives both lasted less than 6 month's i was runnin on raid and the first drive stopped working 2 month's after that the other give up the ghost too. its only when i run drives on SATA.But when i was runnin on ide channels i had no problems but when i went SATA thats when the problems started.....If anyone can shed some light on why this happens it would help...I am runnin xp pro and the hard drives have coolers on them...and the case is well ventilated too.

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External Hard Disk Failure
by gymee / December 8, 2005 10:09 PM PST
In reply to: Had Two Disks Fail

MY external H.D. ran well with both Win 98 and Win 2000, but when I purchased a new computor running Win X.P., the external H.D. not only corrupted the running programns on the new computer but also on the old win 2000.

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External Hard Disk Failure
by gymee / March 17, 2006 9:36 AM PST

Was a faulty external case

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I lost two HD's at the same time
by bbriley / December 8, 2005 11:51 PM PST
In reply to: Had Two Disks Fail

In November, 2004, I was running two Western Digital Caviar HD's - the C: drive was the original, 20 GB, drive and the second, a 40 GB drive, was divided into three partitions: one for Linux (Reiser FS), one for documents for both Linux and Windows app's (FAT 32) and one for Windows games (NTFS). Both HD's failed soon after I upgraded a video card. At the time, I didn't connect it with the video card but in hindsight, one of two things caused the failure, probably - 1) the increased video card load caused power supply overload and malfunction, which then damaged the HD's, or 2) a neighborhood voltage loss and then spike damaged the controllers for both drives. And RE: the data: a local shop was able to recoved much of the data, including the Win XP files, on both drives, but eventually I had to repair windows XP and re-install most of the games. At the time, two new HD's were installed (Western Digital), but I later installed a much better power supply as well AND a much better power spike protector.

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Hard disk failure
by TBlackie / December 8, 2005 6:16 PM PST

The disk was a data disk (not a boot disk) which failed which also a spanned disk (2) one failed.
I the disk are too big to back up so now I use raided disk.
It took me two days to reload all software, register, try and get authorisation codes for some software.
Previous I had disk failure (10 years) when transporting a computer, Norton disk doctor fixed in immediately. That was in the days when you had to park the hard drive before moving your computer.
As good as hard drives are they do not last for every and there's always that possibility or sever power surge that gets past everything.

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Hardware failure
by Twinkle / December 8, 2005 6:22 PM PST

My hard drive packed up a fortnight ago. As I do do technical I took it to a shop. I asked why it had given up. Just shook his head and said; Oh! I've had one go in three weeks. Luckily I had my hard drive partitioned and he could save all my personal stuff. Wish he had partitioned it again for me. As I have not a clue how to do this.

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Backup hardware failure
by Davetimh / December 8, 2005 6:56 PM PST
In reply to: Hardware failure

I just bought a Lacie hard drive to back up my files, because of posts on this site that drove fear into me. I own a small business and couldn't take the loss of data. After successfully using it for a couple of weeks, I went to save some stuff and the hard drive told me it needed to be formatted. I couldn't get around this, so formatted and subsequently lost all of the data when formatting took place. Fortunately my main hard drive was still good. I backed up everthing again on the formatted drive and then bought a bunch of CD-R's and started another backup regiment. Anyone know why the drive all of sudden needed formatting and any workaround if it happens again?

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Laptop Failure
by John Gahring / December 8, 2005 6:57 PM PST

While using my laptop one day it suddenly started loading (or re-loading) all the drivers. It could not be stopped and after it stopped working the display was super-size and nothing worked correctly. I messed with it and messed with it and finally gave up. A friend, a very knowledgeable company network manager, attempted for a week to salvage the laptop to no avail. One evening while working with the laptop his 4 year old Emma said, "Daddy, why is that dot yellow?" I do not remember which dot it was now but when her father saw the dot he quickly corrected most of the problem but some elements still did not return to normal. The Presario 1690 crashed completely two times before causing the need to do a reformat from the install disc which required the updating again of many, many programs to include the OS. Needless to say, I am not a fan of the Presario! I went back to a desktop.

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Try This For HD Failures!
by mihalovits / December 8, 2005 7:11 PM PST

My hard drive failed completely about 3 months ago, along with over a gigabyte of technical photos that took me 2 months to take and edit. I KNEW I had backed up onto CDs, but couldn't find them anywhere.

I turned the hard drive on its side and was able to read the files (it was my secondary drive) long enough to recover them all.

Sometimes a hard drive fails because of bad bearings. As you can imagine, the clearance is very critical for hard drives and turning it on the side might allow it to work temporarily. I've used this trick a few times. Next time try it, what have you got to lose that you haven't already lost?

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try hdd regenerator
by alcasdo / December 8, 2005 8:51 PM PST

most hard disk failures are caused by magnetization.
you can solve it running hdd regenerator, a russian program that you can downloads free (the demo version)
try it, it's just incredible

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"magnetization" not cause of "most" HDD failures
by jmagecko / December 8, 2005 11:49 PM PST
In reply to: try hdd regenerator

Sorry, but if you're talking about data state changes due to "weakening" magnetic fields on the platters, then you aren't correct.

MOST disk drive failures are mechanical or electronic subsystem failures. These are far more frequent than any other disk drive failure mode.

Other frequent "disk failures" are caused by poorly written or corrupted software, main power or power supply faults/failures, improper operating environment temperatures, and/or signal quality problems. Although often put in this category these are NOT technically disk drive failures at all.

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The technique works sometime...
by Zeppo / December 9, 2005 1:15 AM PST

I've rarely experienced a total hard drive failure, and I've been computing since 1984. But I have had hard drives no longer boot up and I just make them into a slave drive to see if I can access the data on them. I almost always can.

I did have one hard drive that had intermittent problems at being recognized by Windows. It would work sometimes and not others. Well, this drive did work when I put it up on end inside the computer case. It did for quite a long time until one day it simply would not operate no matter how I placed. However, by that time I had everything backed up that I wanted.

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DELL Notebook Hard Drive Help
by wolrabnodrogl / December 9, 2005 3:07 AM PST

How do you "make a slave drive"? I think someone once explained it to me, but I've since forgotten.

I remember someone explaining something about purchasing a secondary hard drive for the notebook, and switching some cable ribbon around or something. What do I need to purchase, what brand, what store would be best to walk-into and get this from (we can't wait any longer to get the notebook up and running)?

There are so many issues the computer seems to be experiencing. Although it isn't recognizing a hard drive and won't let me delete partitions, install Windows (from the DELL recovery CD), etc.

My husband hasn't installed any new software or hardware...but last week he got the good 'ol "blue screen'. We've had error messages about the HAL.dll file missing, then something about IDE, and all sorts of others at this point.

I backed everything up for him about 2 weeks ago, so I'm not terribly concerned about him losing data (although it would be great NOT to lose it if possible).

It won't even go into Safe Mode for me...which I would think would be an OS issue. I'm stumped. I even tried to see if I could figure-out how to make a second partition using a Windows 98 CD.

We're really in a bind because it's right before Christmas and we do a ton of on-line shopping: (

Thank you!!!

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Sorry - this reply is well after Christmas
by Zeppo / January 20, 2006 3:53 AM PST

I could tell you how to make a slave drive for a desktop system, and I would bet it is the same for a laptop, but it may be more practical to buy an external USB hard drive enclosure for a laptop hard drive (2 1/2'').

You would need to replace the existing hard drive in the laptop and install the operating system, but could, once replaced and the old drive in an external enclosure, try to pull data off the old one through the USB port. If the drive seems to work fine that way, you could simply reformat the old hard drive (after you have retrieved all data needed) and use it as an external backup drive for any computer you have.

Go here for step-by-step instructions to make a laptop hard drive an external one:

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You can also try SpinRite 6.0
by mpeer / December 9, 2005 2:03 AM PST

This is not a commercial I swear! I build/rebuild a lot of computers for friends and family. A few times they've come to me with drives that no longer read any data. More often than not I could get them going by using SpinRite 6.0 from A few Western Digital drives would not work even after using WD CD 11.1 but I was still able to repair them with SpinRite. Hope this helps someone out there.....

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apparently HP was lazy
by jean_lord / December 8, 2005 7:18 PM PST

After much poking and help, my gurus finally discovered the basic problem with my hard crashed HP Pavillion 521n, which I had bought with XP installed -- HP had installed the XP on TOP of Windows ME. Thus when it crashed, up popped the Windows ME stuff, which of course didn't work since the rest was XP (or something like that). ANYway, when we couldn't access the restore functions properly after many hours of trying, I had to call in and purchase the set of CDs and do a full reinstall of everything on my own. I apparently didn't get it quite right as I now have problems I didn't experience before.
WHY didn't HP clear the disks before installing XP! They pretty much guaranteed an unrecoverable crash, in my case beyond their initial warranty, of course.

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hard Disk failure.
by Weston / December 8, 2005 7:49 PM PST

I had an AST server running Novell 3.1. One morning it just would not boot up. lost everything and had no backups. tried every trick in the book....incl putting in fridge/ go..dont now use a server, just individual PC..

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Hard Disk failure - Graphics Card failure-what happened
by Veejay14 / December 8, 2005 7:57 PM PST

My Radeon 9800 failed and whilst trying to discover what was wrong - using an unreadable screen - I caused a major problem somewhere and then sent the PC back to JAL Computers for replacement of the Graphics Card.
They used the "excuse" that the hard drive had also crashed badly to reinstall Win XP Pro, Service Pack 2 and SOME of my other programs. This wiped out all my data and, unusually for me, I had not backed it up. I'm just now learning how to burn to CD and DVD because I was only used to Iomega Zip and Floppies on my old machine.
I no longer have trust in my machine and have so far been unable to install and use the Digital TV Card & Software that came with it without causing what looks like another breakdown of the new Graphics Card (NVidia GeForce 6). Not a happy PV User at present!
John, York, UK

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Western Digital
by fast_dude007 / December 8, 2005 8:00 PM PST

Over the past few years I had one computer which the western digital hard drive made some scraping noises before it stoped working. The hard drive was three years old and my computer runs about 10 hours a day. Not sure what the average life span of a harddrive is?

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three in two weeks
by Romasteve / December 8, 2005 8:24 PM PST

Once who knows how, a second when I tried using an HD that was cloned by Acronis 8 and the third when an update for Quicken failed and when I rebooted (following the advice of Quicken) when it would not boot and asked me to reinstall HAL.DLL. I took the HD from my laptop and connected with a USB caddy to another computer and copied the .dll to system32 as directed. It did not recognize and could use no other repair so reinstalled Windows but to another directory....Windows1...and managed to save almost everything the was in different folders.

Windows XP SP 2 and all updates as of last week.

Sanders in Rome

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Just a few days ago
by davidkirk / December 8, 2005 8:42 PM PST

This is my second hard drive failure in the last few months (with different machines). Fortunately, I use a backup device called a Mirra server which dynamically backs up all files on the server and allows me to access them from any other machine. This means that although it is inconvenient to fix the machine and re-load software, it is then a very simple process to recover all files, including MS Outlook .pst files.

At times like these, the backup solution seems like money very well spent (all my photos and music are safe!)

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Hard drive lost
by Borzoi50 / December 8, 2005 9:41 PM PST

I had a lightening strike. Lost everything and no recovery possible.
Lesson, Back up and do it on a regular basis.

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