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How to tell if your hard drive is about to crash and burn

Just like many of you, I have tons of files– images, videos, and other precious data–on my hard drives. I am interested in making sure I can back up and protect my data, even though I have learned that hard drives will eventually fail. So, how do we protect our data?

It’s important to back up your drives regularly. But since we are all depending upon hard drives to store our data, it’s important to keep an eye on them and try to back them up before they crash and burn.

I spoke with Chris Walker, a customer support tech and marketing guy here at CRU, and he gave me some pointers on what to look out for.

Q. When should you replace your drive?

A. When you have detected a fault in the drive. Don't wait until it begins to disconnect or make funny sounds. The sooner, the better. Back it up as soon as possible.

Q. Are there signs to look for when a drive is starting to go bad?

A. Slow computer. Look for freezing up, blue screens, and other performance issues. However, this isn’t a sure sign, because there are many other things that can slow your computer down.

Data corruption. When you have files that won’t open, save too quickly, or simply disappear, that’s a sign you may have a problem with your drive.

Bad sectors in your drive. On a Windows PC, you can check for errors by going to Start -> Computer, and right click on the disk partition you want to check, and select Properties. On the tools tab select Check Now. (On Windows 8.1 you would open an explorer window from the Desktop and right click on the disk partition you want to check).

Sounds. If funny noises are coming from the drive then back up your data onto another drive immediately. This is a sign of imminent failure.

S.M.A.R.T. data. You can use a 3rd party diagnostic utility to read the S.M.A.R.T. data on your drive that can help you predict an upcoming drive failure.

Q. What should I do with the old drive?

A. Since data from even a damaged drive is retrievable, it’s best to completely erase it with our Drive eRazer™ Ultra (shameless plug, of course). You could also recycle your drive at a facility that will ensure the data on the disk will be completely erased. Or, smash it to bits. It’s a great way to relieve stress.

Q. What should I replace my old drive with?

A. Replace the old drive with a new drive that has at least the same capacity as the old drive. We always recommend replacing the drive with an identical drive in make, model, and capacity.

Q. Are there signs on my ToughTech Duo I should be watching out for?

A. The LCD menu includes a status readout for both drives.

Q. What are those signs?

A. Press down once to access the status screen.

OK: Indicates that the hard drive is in use or ready to use

No Disk: Indicates that the hard drive was removed or not installed

Unused: A new drive was installed and is not used by the RAID

Failing: Indicates the drive is malfunctioning. Possible causes include an inability to recognize the drive, a compatibility problem, or damaged sectors.

Q. Where can I go for help?

A. You can contact our tech support department if you need help replacing a failed hard drive. We'll be happy to assist.