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  Hard Disk Drive Faults  
     

If Windows will not start - perhaps it displays a blue screen or keeps looping around the initial operating system selection menu, or if there is a clicking sound from within the case, or the monitor just remains dark then it is possible that your hard disk drive (HDD) has failed.  Of all the possible hardware faults, this is possibly the most common.  To limit any further data loss do not try to start the PC again.  If you call 1ComputerCare for assistance, there are two very different courses to be taken to resolve the issue.

 

1.

You bought a custom built PC (possibly because you asked for advice before buying).

 

a.

I attempt to recover as many of your documents, photos and music files off the failed drive as possible.  Usually this is an in-house process that takes no more than an hour, otherwise the disk can be sent away to a specialist laboratory.

 

b.

I supply and fit a new disk - possibly larger and faster than the original.  If the old disk is not too damaged it may be possible to simply clone it to the new one and skip the following steps.

 

c.

Install Windows and any service packs and updates from a standard Windows installation source.

 

d.

Download device drivers from the hardware manufacturers' websites and install them.

 

e.

Restore any of your documents, photos and music files recovered in the first step.

 

2.

You bought an off-the-shelf PC from a local store or online

 

a.

I attempt to recover as many of your documents, photos and music files off the failed drive as possible.  Usually this is an in-house process that takes no more than an hour, otherwise the disk can be sent away to a specialist laboratory.

 

b.

I supply and fit a new disk - this may have to come from the initial supplier at a price they dictate and have identical geometry to the original component.

 

c.

The recovery disk you will have been given or asked to create when you bought the PC is used to put the PC into the state it was when the machine left the factory.  All your installed programs, documents and settings will usually be lost.

 

d.

Device drivers have to be updated from the PC supplier's website for any that have been modified and passed on to the PC supplier.

 

e.

Restore any of your documents, photos and music files recovered in the first step.

 

Sometimes, a disk is damaged to the extent that I am unable to salvage your documents, photos and music files.  The options the are to either send the disk off to a professional data recovery company - at a cost of 500 - 1000 usually, or copy back files from your most recent backup.

 

To establish whether the hard disk drive is faulty, the manufacturer of the disk is established and a diagnostic tool specific to that manufacturer is run.  This will establish for sure whether the physical disk has failed (as opposed to the file structure on the disk).  If a failure is indicated this may sometimes be repairable, perhaps by mapping the failing part of the disk to an inaccessible file; however, this will usually only provide a working disk for a short time and a replacement should be found.

 

If the manufacturer specific diagnostic tool does not find an error the disk is then checked for file corruptions (errors of logic) and a repair performed is necessary.  This is a six stage process:

  • Partition table

  • File structures

  • Indices

  • Security descriptors

  • File data

  • Free space allocation

If the disk is repairable then it is usually prudent to replace it with a new one so as to avoid a failure at an inopportune time.  At this stage it is fairly easy to clone an old disk to a new one - even one of different size and make.

 

If cloning the disk is not possible then a new drive must be put in the PC and a clean copy of Windows installed.  To do this the recovery CD that came with the PC when new will be used.  Sometimes  PC suppliers minimise the cost of the PC by asking the new owner to make a recovery CD off the hard disk drive, this is the time when you are glad you followed that advice, right ?  If a recovery CD is not available, then it is sometimes necessary to buy a new copy of Windows.  Recovery disks are a feature of off-the-shelf PCs, if you were wise enough to buy a custom built PC then any Windows installation CD that matches your licence may be used.

 

If the installation or recovery CD and driver disks you should have received when the PC was new are not available, we can usually work around that issue but it does take a little longer.

 

Before asking 1ComputerCare to repair or replace a disk, check whether your warranty is still active.  If so, this may be a cheaper option for you.  However, note that many warranty repairs simply take the faulty disk out and put a new one in.  Ask whether you will loose any files/music/photos you have by going with the warranty repair option.  If 1ComputerCare are chosen, all your files that are not damaged will be copied back to the new disk.