All computer users come across this nagging problem at some point in their life. There can be number of reasons why this might be happening. It might be a simple problem that you can fix in minutes or serious problem where you might need to replace the hard drive.
Step by step instructions to find the cause and troubleshoot problems
Check for any sounds from inside hard disk
As soon as you turn on the computer, watch out for any click sounds coming from inside the hard disk. Don’t confuse with the sound that comes from the fans inside the computer. The sound from inside Hard disk, sounds like metal click on a metal surface. It happens when the metallic head which reads data crash on the rotating metallic disk where the data is stored. If there is a problem, this sound is more common when you turn on the PC or when the PC wakes up from hibernation mode.
The metal crashing constantly is the first sign that your hard disk is failing and it needs to be replaced as quickly as possible. The right thing to do is to backup all important data on another location. Replace the faulty hard disk and then put back all the data.
If there is no sound, it seems the hard disk is working fine physically. Proceed with the following steps in the order.
Clean Temporary files and remove unwanted software
The hard disk might contain lot of files which might be clogging up its performance. Run a software like ccleaner which is very useful for removing temporary files and cache files. Also remove unwanted software’s and the ones whose expiry is over.
Defragment the files
A slow hard disk might be because of lot of files that is fragmented all over the hard disk. If the files are defragmented, it will be easy for the hard disk to retrieve data which leads to faster performance.
- Click on Start. Type dfrgui in search windows.
- Right click on dfrgui listed in the search results, then click on Run as administrator
- This will open Disk Defragmenter window. You will find the list of all drives inside your computer listed there.
- Select the drive which seems to be causing the problem and then click Defragment disk
If the problem was with fragmented files, your hard disk will be fast after doing a defragmentation.
Check for Hard Disk errors
The hard disk may carry errors which can be related to file system or presence of bad sectors. Bad sectors are areas inside hard disk which are damaged and not fit for saving anymore data. Some bad sectors can be repaired and can be used for some more time. After long period of usage, the number of bad sectors will increase inside a hard disk and it becomes irreparable.
- Open My Computer. Right click on the drive which is from the hard disk which seems to have the problem
- Click Properties -> Click Tools -> Click Error-checking
- Check both options -> Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.
- Click Start
Note: The scan might take some time to complete. So always do these scans when you have free time.
If you have multiple drives inside the problem hard disk, repeat the same for all the drives.
If you schedule the scan on the drive where operating system is installed, the computer will ask you to restart computer to start scan. Restart computer and wait till the scan completes.
You should be able to find an improvement in hard disk performance if the problem was with file system errors or bad sectors. If the problem persists, try the next step.
Format the Hard Disk
This is the final step to check if there is any chance to save the hard disk. Basically, you need to back up all data on an external disk or cloud space and then format the hard disk to wipe out everything inside and make it work like a brand new hard disk.
- Take Back up
- Click Start -> type diskmgmt.msc
- Right click on Disk Management in the resulting window, select Run as Administrator which will open Disk Management window. You can see the list of all hard disks and partitions inside the hard disk.
- Right click on any of the partition inside the problem hard disk. Select Format. Repeat the same if you have multiple partitions.
- Right click on the partitions again, click Delete Volume. Repeat the same till all the partitions inside the problem hard disk is removed.
- Right click again and click New Volume. If you want, you can create multiple partitions and format it.
Now check if there is any improvement in performance. If the hard disk is working like it should be, your problem might be fixed. But be a little sceptic, as the problem might return anytime. If this happens, it is time to replace hard disk.
Time for Replacement
If none of the steps above helped, maybe it’s time to replace the hard disk. After a period of time, the wear and tear takes a toll on the hard disk and it begins to fail. Also if your hard disk has gone through lot of rough handling, it may lead to an early replacement. So take a backup and then replace the hard disk.