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How Do I Know if My HDD is Physically Damaged?

There are a few clues to knowing if your HDD is physically damaged. Sound is a great indicator. If you hear a repetitive clicking sound coming from your computer just before it dies, or on startup, your drive is likely physically damaged.

That’s the sound of the read/write head trying to return to its home position and failing. Turn your computer off immediately. If you hear even the mildest of scraping or grinding sounds, your drive is physically damaged. That’s the sound of the read/write head shaving off the surface of the disks in the drive. Turn off your computer immediately.

Why do you need to turn off your computer when you hear these sounds? Because every second that you’re hearing those sounds, the disks in the HDD are being damaged beyond repair. Every tiny bit of the disks that gets damaged means files, folders, pictures, or videos are being lost forever.

You can still recover some of the files, but it will require finding a data recovery specialist and spending at least $1000 dollars. Data recovery specialists have very expensive equipment and training and sterile, dust free environments.

This allows them to delicately take apart your HDD and use their special electronics and tools to slowly, carefully, recover as much as they can. There are no guarantees though. They won’t know how damaged the drive is before they take it apart.

If it does have symptoms of internal damage, but you simply don’t have the cash for professional recovery, you could still give it a shot. At this point, you’re already counting the files as gone, so roll the dice, play the lottery, and try to learn something. You might get lucky and recover your grandparent’s wedding photo, or nephew’s first birthday