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Basic Computer Troubleshooting Step by Step From

Tags: hard drive

Basic troubleshooting steps 1. Reboot your computer.
2. Verify the drive is powered up and sounds normal. 3. Check data connectivity.
4. Check BIOS settings.
5. Check for viruses.
6. Check partition structure. 7. Check for errors.
8. Try the drive in another system or another drive in this system.

Following the steps 1. Reboot your computer If a hard drive is inaccessible or your operating system won’t run, reboot the computer and watch the screen as it starts up. It may resolve the issue for you, but if it doesn’t you should listen for the sound of the drive spinning up and take note of any clicking sounds it emits, which indicate physical failure. Also, observe any error messages that will help identify the issue. “Operating system not found” is a common one when a hard drive failure occurs, as well “Drive not found” and “Disk boot error.” Use Google to research any errors listed and proceed with the steps below. 2. Verify that the drive is powered up and sounds normal If the situation involves an internal drive, open your computer (obviously, you don’t have to do that with an external drive). Make sure that the drive is receiving power. You can tell by checking the power connection and touching it to see if it’s vibrating and warm while the computer is on—but keep in mind that a drive that’s just died may also exhibit warmth.
See if the drive emits a burning scent, which could indicate failure. If this is the case, the drive may be beyond repair.
If the drive is not powering up, try a different power connector if possible. If it still doesn’t turn on, skip to step #8. 3. Check data connectivity Every hard drive must have data connectivity for an operating system to recognize and work with it. Ensure the data cable (common options are ATA, IDE, SATA, SCSI, and SAS for internal drives, and USB, Firewire, and eSATA for external drives) is firmly connected on both ends to the drive as well as the motherboard.
If the drive is receiving power but the operating system doesn’t see it even after you’ve checked the data cable, try another data cable if possible. If you are using an internal card, such as a SCSI card, verify that it’s properly seated into the motherboard. Swap cards if you have a spare. 4. Check BIOS settings The BIOS, or basic input/output system, is the software code that runs when the computer starts up. A hard drive may not be detected if the BIOS settings are incorrect. Even if you’re certain they haven’t changed and the hard drive worked properly before, it doesn’t hurt to check—especially on a system someone else might have altered. You can access these settings when the computer boots, generally by pressing F1, F2, or F10.
Unfortunately, there is no one specific set of steps for modifying BIOS settings. You will need to consult your computer manual or vendor documentation for the exact steps to verify that your BIOS supports this drive. Most

computers will have an option in the BIOS to automatically detect internal hard drives as well as to permit the use of all USB ports (if this involves an external hard drive).  When using an option similar to this, the drive will be automatically detected as the computer boots. 5. Check for viruses When a computer starts, the BIOS checks to see whether there’s a hard drive that is capable of booting an operating system. This sector is referred to as the master boot sector (MBR). A boot sector virus can infect the MBR and cause hard drive problems, preventing your system from booting.
Use antivirus software on your system to verify that the MBR has not been infected with a boot sector virus. Viruses can contaminate or interfere with antivirus software, so if your antivirus software fails to load or won’t scan, try an online antivirus scan, such as Trend Micro’s free HouseCall scanner. You can also pull the hard drive, install it in another system (via internal or external connections/power), and scan it from there.
Always be sure to keep your antivirus software updated with the latest signature files. Most antivirus products will put an icon on your system tray (if using Windows) that indicates the current status of the program; check this periodically to ensure updates occur regularly. 6. Check partition structure Every hard drive must have a partition, which is then formatted so it can contain data. If the partition structure is damaged or wiped out, the data it contains might be inaccessible or unrecoverable. Use your operating system’s partition management utility to check the structure of the partition. For instance, the Disk Management tool in Windows 7/8/10 can be used to obtain the status of a drive, reformat partitions, convert to dynamic disks, and so on. To access the tool, click Start, right-click Computer, choose Manage, expand Storage, then select Disk Management. The screenshot in Figure A shows a system with healthy partitions. Check to ensure each drive that should be listed appears here. If you see an error pertaining to the drive, research it to determine the source (since the possible errors may vary).
For a computer to boot properly, there must be an active partition on the drive. If the problem drive contains your operating system, make sure the appropriate partition is shown as being Active. You can make any changes needed by right-clicking the partition in question and selecting Make Active Partition.
If you do not see your drive at all, the operating system can’t detect it, so you should go on to step #7.

7. Check for drive errors Most operating systems come with additional utilities you can use to assist in troubleshooting hard drive problems. If the drive contains no physical or partition errors, you should take advantage of such utilities to obtain the status of the drive.
If the operating system won’t boot, utilize the Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 recovery options to see if you can repair your OS. If the operating system boots but you can’t access the drive in question, a Windows utility such as Device Manager can be useful when troubleshooting hard drive problems. You can access this tool by opening Windows Explorer, right-clicking Computer (or This PC in Windows 10), choosing Manage, and then selecting Device Manager (Figure B).

Device Manager provides a graphical view of the hardware currently installed on the computer. The device drivers and resources associated with that hardware are listed in the properties of each device.
Device Manager is used to maintain, configure, and troubleshoot the devices physically connected to the computer system. The following items outline some of the available functionality:
 Determine whether the hardware is working properly on the computer. Change hardware configuration settings. Identify the device drivers that are loaded for each device and obtain information about each device driver. Change advanced settings and properties for devices. Install updated device drivers. Disable, enable, and uninstall devices.

 Reinstall the previous version of a driver with the Roll Back feature. Identify device conflicts and manually configure resource settings. Print a summary of the devices that are configured on your computer.
Any drive errors will be shown here; if the drive can’t be accessed due to a driver issue, it will show a yellow exclamation mark. Research the driver in question and obtain the latest files from the vendor.  It can also be helpful to right-click the drive, choose the option to uninstall it, then reboot and see if it is detected properly.
If the drive doesn’t appear at all, it may be defunct.  Proceed to the next step.
If all drives look okay and you can boot your computer and the operating system is able to read some, but not all, of the files of the hard drive, your next step should be to scan for physical and logical disk errors.
In Windows 7/8/10, you can open Explorer, access Computer (or This PC in Windows 10), right-click the drive, choose Tools, and then select Check Now (or just Check in Windows 8/10) under the Error-Checking section  (Figure C). Windows 8/10 will tell you if no drive problems exist but give you the option to check anyhow. For earlier Windows versions, scan the drive and select Automatically Fix File System Errors and Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors (Figure D). Once Windows has finished checking for errors it will present you with the results of this scan. Reboot your system and see if things work normally again.
If all else fails, try using Knoppix Linux or Puppy Linux to try to recover your files from the disk. This involves creating a bootable disc that you can load another operating system from so you can try to access the problem drive in a recovery scenario.

8. Try the drive in another system or try another drive in this system Your final step should be to put the drive in another computer (if possible) or to try a separate drive in this system, using the same power and data connectors. If the drive works elsewhere, the problem may be with your motherboard. If another drive works in this system, the faulty drive itself may be to blame.

Conclusion Hopefully, this checklist will improve your chances of rescuing a problem hard drive. But if it doesn’t, see whether the vendor or manufacturer can assist further or consult Google for additional tips. Remember that hard drive recovery is a much more pleasant undertaking if you have steady and consistent backups to rely on during the process!
If the data on the drive is critical and no backups exist—and you have no other recourse—it may be time to think about data recovery services. While data recovery can serve as a good last resort, it can be expensive and time consuming.  Examples of Data Recovery Services include Kroll Ontrack, Excalibur, and Gillware. Your vendor may also offer a similar data recovery service as well.

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Basic Computer Troubleshooting Step by Step From


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