While the best way to avoid data loss is to back up data regularly, computer users should also know the basic signs of data loss. By turning off a hard drive or other device as early as possible, you can greatly increase your chances of a successful data recovery while limiting your case's turnaround time.
Unfortunately, many of the signs of data loss are extremely subtle, and computer users often ignore potentially serious symptoms. Some of the most common early signs of hardware failure include:
Slow File Access Speeds. File access speeds can slow down significantly for a number of reasons, but any serious slowdown could indicate corruption or hard drive read/write issues.
If your computer takes a long time to open certain files, make sure to back up critically important data as soon as possible. Do not run utilities like ScanDisk or ChkDsk before backing up your files. These utilities could potentially make the problem worse if there is a non-logical (hardware-based) issue.
Start-up Errors. If your computer does not start consistently, you might have issues with your master boot record (MBR) or other logical problems that could eventually prevent you from accessing your data normally. Your computer might even have electrical issues, which can eventually compromise your hard drive and other parts of your PC.
You should take any start-up errors seriously. Note any error messages and write down error codes. This information can be extremely helpful if you need data recovery.
If your computer stops booting properly, you may be able to hook the hard drive up to another machine to copy your data. However, you should not attempt this if you are not comfortable removing computer components or if you notice unusual noises, smells or other signs of physical or electronic failure.
Hangs and Crashes. Desktop and laptop computers can fail without warning, and while some crashes are related to hardware configuration issues and software conflicts, some are related to hard drive issues.
All hangs and crashes are serious because they can cause data corruption. Your computer will try to access, read and write to a certain file, then suddenly shut down; this can lead to unresolved changes that render your images, documents, databases and other files unreadable. Data corruption is an especially common problem when working with larger files such as email archives.
Once again, back up your data if your computer hangs or crashes regularly. Check your backups and consider automatic backup software. Find out why your computer is crashing and fix the problem as soon as you can to ensure system stability.
Unusual Noises. Most computer users realize that a hard drive is in distress when it makes loud clicking or whirring sounds. However, some noises are surprisingly subtle.
Listen to your computer carefully when it starts up. If the drive sounds like it is "resetting," you might have read/write head issues. Any clicking sounds can be serious, depending on the frequency of the clicking and the computer's overall performance. Make sure to listen to your computer and pay special attention to any sounds that the machine makes when handling demanding tasks.
If your hard drive, flash drive, server or other device shows signs of data loss, turn it off immediately. Replace the device if you have a backup. If you do not have a backup, contact a qualified data recovery company as soon as possible to discuss your options and to set up a media evaluation.
Secure Data Recovery Services' customer service team is available 24/7 at 1-800-388-1266 to discuss recovery service options.