Friday, June 24, 2011

Hard Drive troubleshooting ?

The typical hard drive is basically not much different than an old fashioned tape recorder.
There are magnetic heads which record data to your hard drive platters then read them back as information is needed. I won't get into how this data is stored right now, since what you really need to know is how to repair, maintain and recover your own hard drive.

Remember, a hard drive is not memory or ram (Random Access Memory).
If your program tells you there is not enough ram available to run an application, it isn't telling you that your hard drive has run short on space, but that your memory (ram) is not large enough to handle the program. You can also increase Virtual memory by using an area of the hard drive
to mimic Ram which will allow the program to run.

Whether you have a Serial ATA (AT Attachment) or standard IDE (also known as EIDE or PATA) drive, the mechanics are pretty much the same.
HDDs record data by magnetizing ferromagnetic material directionally, to represent either a 0 or a 1 binary digit. They read the data back by detecting the magnetization of the material. A typical HDD design consists of a spindle that holds one or more flat circular disks called platters, onto which the data are recorded. The platters are made from a non-magnetic material, usually aluminum alloy or glass, and are coated with a thin layer of magnetic material.

But the real important thing we want to address here is just How they get damaged in that sealed environment, and how to avoid it.

The best way to manage a failing hard drive is to use the software that originally came packaged with it. A lot of times you will discover a smart drive error has occurred and sometimes this error is false, but usually cannot be undone.
When a failure is anticipated by S.M.A.R.T., the drive is typically replaced and returned to the manufacturer, who uses these dead drives to discover where faults lie and how to prevent them from reoccurring on the next generation of hard disk drives. None of which help you right now.

A word of warning here about care, handling and maintenance.

Never cover that little breathing hole on your hard drive with tape. It is even better to make sure it is face down to prevent dust collecting on the hole.
Due to the extremely close spacing between the heads and the disk surface, any contamination of the read-write heads or platters can lead to a head crash, (a failure of the disk in which the head scrapes across the platter surface), often grinding away the thin magnetic film and causing
data loss. Head crashes can be caused by electronic failure, a sudden power failure, physical shock, wear and tear, corrosion, or poorly manufactured platters and heads.
Very high humidity for extended periods can also corrode the heads and platters.

So what we want to do here is first save the drive, second test the drive for errors and third try a data read and write to be sure the hard drive can do what it was designed for, Store Data.
All of this can be done with the CD that came with your hard drive. For those who are testing and fixing a drive that came with their PC, a disk may be obtained by finding the manufacturers site who made your drive and downloading the apropriate Drive Manager software for your Hard drive.
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