Causes of corrupted data, and how to repair it.

Hard drive data corruption occurs when a system cannot finish writing data to a file or when segments of the file become inaccessible. It is a common cause of data loss, as corrupted files are often unusable.

Hard Drive Data Corruption

Hard drive data corruption can occur due to mechanical component issues, software errors or even electrical events.

Hard drive data corruption can occur due to mechanical component issues, software errors or even electrical events.

Serious data corruption is more likely with larger files than with smaller files, since larger files take up more physical space on a hard drive's platters. If a hard drive has tracking issues or read/write head problems, corruption may affect several files or folders simultaneously. The physical hard disk issues that contribute to corruption are often caused by poor operating conditions, but all hard drives eventually fail due to mechanical stress and wear.

Common causes of hard drive data corruption include:

  • Bad Sectors
  • Read/Write Head Tracking IssuesSudden Power Failures During File Processes
  • Software Failures
  • Virus Damage
  • Malfunctioning Antivirus Software

Symptoms of File Corruption and Data Loss

File corruption errors are often preceded by sudden system shutdowns, blue screen of death (BSOD) errors and program crashes. This prevents the hard drive from carrying out a requested process properly, which causes localized file damage.

When files are affected by corruption, their parent programs will often refuse to open them. Common error messages include "(file name) is not recognized" and "file format not recognized." Files and folders can also disappear entirely, and your computer's operating system may refer to bad sectors when refusing to execute certain commands.

Because some physical hard drive issues can cause file corruption, you may also notice clicking sounds, excessive vibration and other physical symptoms. Immediately shut down any hard drive if you recognize symptoms of a mechanical or electronic failure.

Try not to write data to any hard drive with widespread file corruption issues. Depending on the source of the corruption, running software and creating files could decrease the chances of a successful data recovery.

Data Recovery Techniques for Corrupted Files

Because bad sectors on a hard drive's platters can cause file corruption, many computer users attempt to treat the issue by running utilities like Scandisk and Chkdsk. These utilities attempt to identify bad sectors, allowing hard drives to run more efficiently. While this process occasionally fixes minor corruption, disk utilities can contribute to media damage. If the read/write heads of a hard drive are in contact with the platters, running a utility will damage the magnetic material that stores your files.

Likewise, some programs have dedicated utilities that treat corruption, but no utility can bypass mechanical or electronic media issues. To avoid hard drive damage, you should keep your drive powered off until you can get a professional evaluation from a data recovery company.

At Secure Data Recovery Services, we specialize in hard drive repair and recovery. We carefully evaluate corrupt hard drives to determine whether physical issues contributed to data loss and always take appropriate steps to protect our clients' media.

Our engineers treat physical media issues in a Certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom. All hard drives are susceptible to media damage when exposed to untreated air, and our certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom provides sufficient filtration to prevent moisture, dust and other contaminants from interfering in physical repairs. Secure Data Recovery Services is one of the only major data recovery companies with a certified Class 10 ISO 4 Cleanroom.

After repairing your drive, we treat corrupt files using proprietary utilities. Our engineers often work directly with corrupt files, and we offer high recovery rates for corrupt hard drives.