Disk Crash

What is Disk Crash?

A disk crash refers to the physical failure of a hard drive or a diskette, which is usually not recovered by the user.

Technically, a disk crash is the result of a head crash, stiction, bad sectors, circuit failure, motor or bearing failures, and other logical and software failures.

Understanding Disk Crash

What is Disk Crash

A hard disk drive crash occurs when it stops functioning even when powered on.

There are lots of reasons for it to happen, right from dust and moisture buildup to technical and electrical faults.

In such an event, the data stored on the disk cannot be accessed by the user or a regularly configured computer system.

Depending on the reasons, the extent of damage caused to the hard disk can be any of the following:

And depending on the damage, the data stored on the crashed hard drive may be either totally destroyed and completely irrecoverable or partially destroyed and partially or fully recoverable.

A hard disk may crash or fail during its normal course of operation, mainly due to:

Stiction is the phenomenon of the head arm touching the surface of the disc platter and causing scratches and further damage to it.

Such a condition may result in different issues with the hard disk, making the data stored on it inaccessible such as:

A hard disk crash is not a very common occurrence but is surely a possibility. In most cases help from processional experts of data recovery services is required to recover files and data from a hard disk that has crashed, if the built-in utility fails.

Prevention Tips

Events of hard disk crashing may be prevented from happening if you follow some easy steps. These are:

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Avoiding Data Loss

Though not very common, hard disks can crash or become dead sometimes even without making any sound or showing any symptoms.

Even worse, you may not have been able to take a proper backup of the data on another device.

Well, do not fret because you can prevent data loss from a crashed hard drive by following these tips:

Finally, use any dedicated software for data recovery or engage a recovery service, as explained in the later section of this article.

Hard Disk Crash Symptoms

The hard disk will not fail all of a sudden. Instead, it will show some signs of failure well before it does, such as overheating, failure to boot, buggy apps, sluggish performance and more.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a hard disk crash are as follows:

Pay attention to these symptoms and when you experience one or a couple of these hard drive failure symptoms, the best thing to do is turn your system off and call a pro.

What Causes a Hard Drive to Crash?

There are lots of reasons for the life of the hard disk to become short and crash eventually such as dropping the system, exposing it to dust, heat and humidity, power surges, and a plethora of other factors.

The causes of hard disk crash can be typically categorized into three groups such as mechanical failures, logical failures, and firmware failures.

Mechanical failure

There are moving components inside a hard drive that may get damaged due to wear and tear in normal conditions, shocks, and control errors. All these will result in its malfunction and failures.

Logical failure

Any non-physical issue with the hard disk may lead to a logical failure, and, as a result, in a system crash. Some of the factors that may result in logical failures are as follows:

Firmware failure

These are very similar to logical failures but are usually a consequence of manufacturing faults.

Issues with the firmware may not allow the computer system to recognize the hard drive in the first place, or, even if it does, it may not be able to access the data stored in it.

In such situations, the hard drive will have problems while booting up and may result in freezing.

Hard Disk Crash Recovery

A hard disk crash is not the end of the world since there are ways in which you can recover files and data from it.

You can download and use different third-party recovery tools depending on the operating system, Disk Management utility software, command prompt, and even a professional data recovery service.

Using a software

You can recover data from a hard disk after a crash by using a dedicated software such as Disk Drill. This can be used for both Windows and Mac OS X. The steps to follow are:

Using the Disk Management utility

You can use the Disk Management utility to recover data from a logically damaged hard disk, on both Windows and Mac systems.

The steps to follow on Windows are:

The steps to follow on Mac are:

Using Command Prompt

Data can also be recovered from a crashed hard drive by using CMD or Command Prompt. This, however, is a very technical process, which involves running CHKDSK as follows:

Using a hard drive data recovery service

The technical expertise of a professional data recovery service can get back data and files from a crashed hard disk beyond the abilities of data recovery software.

Ship the crashed hard disk to them, making sure that it is packed carefully to avoid further shocks, vibrations, and static electricity.

They will evaluate the device, provide a failure report, offer a price quote, recover the data, and return it on a new hard drive or flash drive.


A disk crash is not a common event but can be if you do not use your system properly and take care of it, as you can see from this article.

There are lots of factors that can cause a hard disk to crash, such as external factors, logical errors, and even manufacturing faults.

However, usage cannot be excluded completely.