How to Test If Hard Drive Is Failing

How to test if hard drive is failing on your PC when you find that your PC has some aberrant signs? In this post you’ll how to tell if hard drive is failing and how to fix this issue.


By Lucas / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Being the primary data storage components, disks are required for all PCs. HDD is more widely used as a data disk on the PC and each hard disk has a limited lifespan and can fail. When hard drive failure happens, your data might be lost. So hard drive failure can be disastrous since all data on the disk might be lost abruptly.

Luckily, hard drive failures do have signs. You just need to pay attention to them and do the prevention measures beforehand, then you may avoid the annoying data loss caused by a hard drive failure.

What is hard drive failure?

Here we mainly talk about the logical failure of the hard drive. If your hard drive doesn’t have any physical damage, but it has some strange issues, then this post will help you a lot.

There are no mechanical difficulties with logical hard drive failure, but the hard disk may fail to work regularly or adequately. When a logical hard disk fails, files may become unavailable or vanish. In some circumstances, the computer operating system is corrupted.

With normal use, a hard disk has a usual lifespan of 3-5 years. Old electromechanical drives that store data on fast-spinning disks are the most susceptible. However, your hard disk may crash at any time, regardless of how long it has been used.

Common signs of hard drive failure

Many hard drives will display warning signs of a problem before the full disaster. Hard drive failure symptoms might appear minor before becoming a major issue. Failing hard drive warning indicators might be bothersome at first, but if ignored, they can quickly ruin your computer.

The following are the most prevalent indications of hard disk failure:

Many factors might cause your hard disk to overheat, such as dust accumulation or an outdated and unclean fan. The resulting heat might harm the components within and surrounding the hard disk. If you're experiencing excessive heat, it's time to repair these components.

◤Strange sounds
Unusual sounds, such as grinding or whining, might indicate an internal component on its final legs. Overuse might cause a fan or hard drive to fail. You may not need to replace the entire system, but data loss is possible if you are not careful.

◤Corrupted data, files, and folders
Data corruption is one of the most obvious indications of a failing hard disk. When a disk's ability to preserve information fails, data becomes damaged. If part of the disk has begun to deteriorate, the remainder is likely to follow soon.

Error displays are typically the result of data being unexpectedly inaccessible. A computer can automatically correct this by relocating important system files to a different portion of the disk. Repeated blue screens indicate that your hard disk is deteriorating and that your computer is having difficulty keeping your information safe.

◤Frequent freezes & crashes
A slower and more frequent crashed computer may indicate that your data are getting more difficult to access. Corrupted sectors can accumulate and cause files to fracture. This makes opening files on your disk more difficult and causes mechanical wear.

◤Stuck spindle motor
Physical damage to the machine, while it is in operation, can wreak havoc on the mechanism that rotates the disk. The spindle either does not turn or stutters as it turns. This does not necessarily imply that the data is unrecoverable, but you will no longer be utilizing this disk.

◤ Bad sectors
Bad sectors occur on almost every hard disk, however, the number of bad sectors increases with age. Inaccessible hard drive segments might corrupt crucial data and reduce the amount of usable space on your hard disk. If the number of faulty sectors on your drive has lately increased, the usable capacity on your drive will continue to decrease.

◤Frequent errors during normal operations & irregular system crashes
These are frequently caused by faulty sectors, in which the computer expects to locate certain data but instead finds gibberish. The CHKDSK tool can occasionally repair these sectors, but not always. One or two faulty sectors are not caused for concern. However, if they begin to rise, you have a major concern.

◤ PC boot failure
A hard disk can become so corrupted that it will no longer boot system files. Data may still be retrievable, but you've reached the end of your grace period. It's time to get your data back and a new hard disk.

5 methods to test if hard drive is failing

In this part, we’ll show some methods to help you test your hard drive. If your hard drive has the signs we mentioned in the last part, then this part is quite necessary for you.

Method 1. Use S.M.A.R.T test

Step 1. Click the "Windows" button and input "cmd" in the taskbar, then select "Run as administrator".

Step 2. In the CMD window, input "wmic diskdrive get status" and press "Enter".

SMART test

Step 3. If you see "OK", the target hard drive is healthy. When you see "Pred Fail", there may be errors on the hard drive.

Method 2. Check hard drive in BIOS

Step 1. Reboot your PC, and press Delete, F2, F12, or whichever buttons the boot screen tells you will take you to your BIOS.

Step 2. In the BIOS, the exact instructions will depend on your motherboard manufacturer. In the example, on MSI Mortar WiFi B550M in the BIOS, go to “Settings -> Advanced -> NVME Self-Test” to test the health of the NVMe drives.

BIOS disk test

Method 3. Use the PC/disk manufacturer's tool

Some computers have hard disks manufactured by a large hard disk manufacturer, or the machine includes a brand-developed tool, and users may use these tools to examine their hard drives. For example, if you have a recent HP laptop, you may access a separate UEFI diagnostic tool by hitting F2 during startup.

Go to “Component Tests -> Hard Drive” to run tests on one or more drives on the PC.

Component test

If you’re using a WD, Seagate, or Samsung disk, you can go to the official website to download its own tool to check your disk.

Samsung disk test tool

But usually, these tools only support their own disks. Disks in other brands cannot be checked.

Method 4. Use CHKDSK

Step 1. Open “Search” type cmd and choose “Run as administrator” under “Command Prompt.”

Step 2. Enter chkdsk at the prompt and hit Enter.

Step 3. You can also use chkdsk /f /r to fix bad sectors and recover any readable data if possible.

Another option is chkdsk /f /r /x, which dismounts the drive first.


Tip: You can visit Microsoft's official website to read a full list of parameters to use with chkdsk to check your hard disk health.

Method 5. Use a third-party disk check tool

As you see, although Windows offers some built-in tools to help users to test if hard drive is failing, you’ll need to use different tools to test different factors and some tools require you use commands, if you type wrong orders, the test can’t run.

So, to help Windows users conveniently test hard disk drive failure, here we introduce you to AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, a free disk and partition manager for Windows 11/10/8/8.1/7/XP users.

It is a multifunctional disk manager. To assist you test if hard drive is failing or not, it has test functions like:

☛ Surface test
Surface Test can make sure whether your hard drives have no bad sectors or not.
☛ Check partition
This function uses CHKDSK to check a single partition and it can fix small errors.
☛ Health
This feature uses S.M.A.R.T information to help you diagnose the disk status.
☛ Disk speed test
This feature is to test the reading/writing speed of your hard drive.

With these four testing functions, you can fully check your hard drive conveniently.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Now, we’ll show you how to use this user-friendly tool to test if hard drive is failing

Option 1. Surface Test

Step 1. Download AOMEI Partition Assistant and launch it. At the main interface, click the "Test" menu and select “Disk Surface Test”.

Surface test

Step 2. Click Start to do the surface test. You may want to tick Quick Check to perform a fast test.

Start test

Option 2. Check Partition

Step 1. Open this tool, right-click the partition that you want to check, select Advanced, then select “Check Partition”.

Advanced check partition

Step 2. Select the way of checking errors to perform. As you can see from the following screenshot, there are three choices, simply choose the last one “Check whether there is a bad sector on the partition”. And click OK to go to the next step.

Check ways

Step 3. Click the Start button to check.


Option 3. Health check

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant. When the program is successfully launched, it will automatically obtain S.M.A.R.T. information on all hard disks in the background.

Once the tool detects that the disk health status of one hard drive is poor, a red exclamation mark will be displayed on the disk icon. You can also right-click on one hard drive and choose Properties-->Health(SMART) to see detailed S.M.A.R.T. information on this disk.

Disk health

Step 2: There are 3 states of hard disk health.

• State one: Good
The disk is in good condition and can be used with confidence.

Good condition

State two: Caution
Except for the temperature, one or more attributes are close to the threshold. The disk still can be used normally, but it is recommended to back up the disk regularly.

Cautious condition

State three: Bad
One or more attributes are equal to or less than the threshold. The disk may be damaged soon and cause data loss. It is recommended to clone this disk and replace it with a new one.

Bad condition

Click "View details" to see specific S.M.A.R.T. values, red text indicates that the value of the item is equal to or exceeds the threshold.

Health status

Option 4. Disk Speed Test

Step 1. Open AOMEI Partition Assistant, click the "Test" menu and select “Disk Speed Test”.

Disk speed test

Step 2. The default mode is Simple Mode, click “Start” to run a simple speed test. Or click "Pro Mode" to get a more comprehensive test we introduced above.

Start test

Pro mode

Step 3. After the test, you can click “Export” to see the test result.

Export result

▶ Tip: The above features are also available for external hard disks.

Further options to improve disk performance

Once you find your hard drive is failing, you need to prepare a disk backup to prevent data loss in the future. And if you find it’s time to replace the current disk, then you can upgrade to the AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to choose “Disk Clone Wizard” to create a disk backup or directly transfer the data to the new disk to upgrade your disk.

Disk clone wizard

Or you can choose “Migrate OS to SSD” to only transfer OS to your new disk. Both features can help you avoid the tiresome steps of reinstalling OS.

Migrate OS to SSD

Some users may not want to replace the hard drive, AOMEI Partition Assistant also has the “Disk Defrag” feature to help you improve hard drive performance.

Disk Defrag

And there is a “PC Cleaner” to clear junk files on your disk and a PC to speed up your hard drive.

After scanning

To sum up

If you don’t know how to test if hard drive is failing, then hopefully this post can give your more helpful ideas. Signs of hard drive failure can warn users to avoid the disaster of data loss caused by hard drive failure, so if your PC confronts the signs we mentioned in this post, you’d better prepare a new disk. AOMEI Partition Assistant can assist you in easily and safely upgrading your hard drive.

Besides the above features, this tool also has other useful functions like moving folders and installed programs, MBR/GPT data-safe conversion, etc. And there is the Server Edition for Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012(R2)/2008(R2)/2003 users to conveniently manage their computers.

Lucas · Staff Editor
I prefer peaceful and quiet life during vacation,but sometimes I watch football match if my favorite club performs brilliantly in that season. And I love reading, painting and calligraphy, thus I send my friends festival handwriting cards every year.