If you have lots of wealth like gold, platinum, emerald or diamonds in your possession, you will definitely try to keep them in a safe vault. You want their 100% safety and you don’t want to leave any chance for them to get damaged or stolen. In regards to personal computing, the hard drive of your computer can be compared with a humongous vault that contains a massive amount of information, data and programs. Most of the items you have left there are vital with respect to your computing needs – and some could be assets even more precious than expensive gems.
By every means, the hard drive of your computer is one of the most important devices attached to your PC. You need to ensure a inside your PC, capable of delivering top notch data storage and retrieval services when you need. Otherwise, your PC could easily become hard to drive!
In the older days, there used to be complex processes that needed to be performed on hard drives in order to maintain, check or repair them. MS DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) based utilities were widely used that only a techno savvy person was able to handle successfully. But now the situation is changing rapidly. As the new generation operating systems evolve tremendously in terms of simplifying user’s administrative and maintenance features, anyone with a basic technical knowhow could perform various computer maintenance and repair activities on hard drives that are very useful.
Hard Drive Error Types and How to Fix Them
Apart from mechanical or electronic flaws at hardware level, a hard drive could have three other types of errors at the systems level;
- MBR (Master Boot Record) Fault and the Boot Fault
- File System Fault
- Bad Physical Sector Faults
MBR (Master Boot Record) Fault and the Boot Fault
An MBR is a little piece of information (a small file) stored in the 1st sector of the hard drive that generally tells how many logical drives the hard drive has, their capacity and which logical drive should be used for the system to boot from. Logical drives are like drive letters C, D …G that we often see under “My Computer” and we use them to store files or programs. Actually a hard drive could have only one or more than one partition, but for better usability, hard drives are often partitioned more than once. And in that case, their logical drive names ranges from C, D, E and F to G or H.
Now this MBR thing is still a complicated issue but can be used to fix boot errors. I will cover this at the end, just after finishing off on the easy stuff. To fix the other two types of faults mentioned above, you may take the following steps.
File System Fault
1. Go to your “Windows explorer” by right clicking on the Windows “Start button” and then selecting “Computer”.
2. Here you will see the list of all your logical drives like C, E, F and G.
3. Now let’s say for example you want to check your G drive for errors. Bring the mouse over on the G drive and right click and then select “properties ” at the bottom of the menu. This will launch the properties window for your G drive as shown below.
4. On this screen, you can also perform several other useful features in addition to fixing drive errors. For example, if your PC is shared by several users, you can limit drive space quotas for these users so that one user cannot fill up the entire hard drive. To enable quota system, you can hit “quota” on the top menu and then click “show quota settings”. Select “yes” when the Windows user account security will ask for confirmation to proceed. Now you will come on the quota management screen as shown in image 3. Select “enable quota management” and then select “limit disk space to” and then enter the value of maximum quota the user should be able to use in the drop down box. That should limit the quota to this new assigned value you just entered.
5. On the hard drive properties window, you can also perform several other functions using the “security” tab and the “sharing” tab. For example, if you want to limit a particular user not to be able to “modify” anything on your G drive, you can do that in the “security” screen. And if you are in a Local Area Network (LAN) and want to share the G drive with another user on the same network, you can do that in the “sharing” screen.
Now let’s go back to fixing hard drive problem.
1. Click on the “Tools” tab. You will reach the screen as shown in image 4. Hit “Check Now” on this screen. Select “Yes” confirming Windows that you want to proceed.
2. You will now reach the check disk screen for G drive as shown in image below. Here you can select both the options or just the 1st one to start with. It is recommended to begin with the 1st option as the system itself will prompt you to perform the bad sector scan after completion of the 1st option if it sniffs any bad sectors in your hard drive.
Keep in mind that the bad sectors cannot be recovered all the time, but performing these operations will help the OS understand that there are bad sectors in your hard drive and it will be better prepared to accommodate them or rather stay away from them. Running the file system scan will fix all the file system related errors in your G drive.
Bad Physical Sector Faults
If bad sectors are detected after going for the 2ndoption, it will be sensible to replace the hard drive with a new one and transfer all the data to the new one before it is too late. After fixing one logical drive G, now you can perform the same operation on other logical drives.
Physical Failure: Physical failure is the major cause of hard drive failure results in damaged inner equipment’s such as platter, head crash, spindle motor etc. But there is a good possibility that your data is still intact and accessible by some special recovery software. Most common reasons behind physical hard drive failure are due to bumping, jarring or dropping the computer while it is running.
Fixing Master Boot Record (MBR)
Coming back to MBR fault, this is often created by a boot sector virus making changes on the tiny MBR file that you have in your hard drive. When the MBR gets corrupt, often the system will wrongly show more logical drives than you actually have, or their names will be changed erratically.
For example, you know you have only drive C, D and E in your PC and suddenly you see there is an additional drive F out of nowhere, more likely you have an MBR virus! The MBR can be repaired by executing a command called “fixmbr” at the command prompt. To do this, you need to boot off the installation disk in your CD or DVD drive. When setup launches, go for the system recovery option and to command prompt. At the command prompt, type: BootRec.exe /fixmbr and hit enter. This should fix the MBR of your hard drive.
The BootRec.exe command is only for Windows Seven and Vista, for Windows XP, at the command prompt you just need to type: “fixmbr” command and hit enter. “fixboot” command can also be used for fixing boot initialization problem. Here is more detailed description of how to fix the MBR.
It is advisable not to try running these commands unless you have a real good reason to do so. Having a technical person right next to you is also not a bad idea if you don’t have sufficient PC maintenance knowledge.