What happens if a laptop has a hard disk crash?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 | laptops, technology

The hard disk is the place where your laptop stores data.  Since it is inside the machine, you won’t see it, unless you open the casing – but this is not recommended.  It looks like a rectangular metal box and it contains the disk.  The disk is not removable; it is unlike a CD, or DVD, that can be removed from its drive.  All your information – programmes, data, pictures, music files and video clips – are stored on this disk.

Think of the hard disk as a set of shelves where you store tools and materials.  When you want to work on a project, you take the required tools and materials off the shelf onto a workbench.  Similarly, if you want to use a program and associated data files, you load them off the hard disk onto the RAM.

A disk crash happens when the read/write head of the hard disk crashes onto the surface of the hard magnetic material that covers the disk and on which the data is stored.  In the process both the head and the disk are damaged.

The cause of a disk crash could be:

  • faulty hardware
  • an abrupt interruption of power supply
  • a bump or when the laptop is dropped.

If the disk crashes it will need to be replaced. 

Hope that this never happens to you.  But if it does, it’s not the end of the world.  Once the hard disk has been replaced, you can reinstall the programmes and reload your data from the backup. 

But if you did not take a backup, you are in trouble.

Click here to find answers to more laptop related questions.

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1 Comment to What happens if a laptop has a hard disk crash?

Dwayne Bailey
Monday, 27 April, 2009

Heads don’t usually crash into drives with a loss of power. Modern, I’m talking post 80′s harddrives, rely on the spinning disks to draw the head down to the platter so a loss of power means the head goes up not down.

Modern laptops, those made in the last year or two, have accelerometers that can detect when things happen like your laptop drop. This will then retract your heads and protect the drive.

I’d say the great risk for a crash is simple wear and tear and bad luck in getting a faulty drive. Manufacturers use a technology that they call SMART that detects errors on writing and reading. When you get a warning that your drive will die soon its usually right and the drive is out in a day or two. This gives you enough time to backup all your data.

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