Do you own an HP laptop or desktop computer? Are you detecting signs of hard drive failure like slow performance or sudden crashes? A failing hard drive might be something you can’t ignore, as your entire computer depends on it to carry out tasks. Not only is your hard drive used for data storage, but your operating system is on there as well. Performing tests to diagnose the problem can help you find the right repair solution,
A brief overview
Widely known for their personal and business IT solutions, Hewlett-Packard (HP) produces different hardware and software products. A few of these include, HP Spectre, x360 laptops, Chromebooks, LaserJet printers, and EliteDesk Desktops.
Hard drive failure is a common problem that not only HP users face, and can be very irritating. On top of that, hard drive failure is also something that is quite unavoidable. Hard drives do fail over long-term use, and will need a replacement.
Why do hard drives fail?
Traditional spinning hard drives contain moving parts to read and write data. The moving parts are disadvantageous to the hard drive’s durability, as accidental damage or natural wear and tear can cause bad sectors. The bad sectors then put a risk to the drive’s lifespan.
So what are bad sectors? All hard drives come with small amounts of bad sectors, and they do accumulate over time. When they do accumulate to a considerable amount, the hard drive will start to fail. Errors like slow boot up times and corrupt files are signs of such. Learn more about why hard drives fail and some error signs to look out for in “Top 8 hard drive issues and how to fix them yourself”.
Fixing a faulty hard drive
HP users may use specific tools and tests to diagnose their laptop or desktop drives. This may be a good precaution against data loss from hard drive failure. Understanding the problem at hand and using the right tools can help you find the right solution.
Here’s our guide to diagnosing and repairing an HP hard drive yourself:
1. Test hard drive with HP built-in diagnostics
For your HP laptop or desktop computer, you have a few options here: chkdsk, HP Support Assistant, and HP Diagnostics UEFI. These tools can be used to test your system for any hardware issues.
“Chkdsk” can be found on all Windows PCs, and is used as a simple hard disk checkup tool. If your computer still boots successfully, you can run it from a command prompt, or the properties window of your hard drive.
Chkdsk can attempt repairs on soft bad sectors caused by software errors, and mark hard bad sectors caused by physical damage to be skipped over. If run regularly, it can be a useful tool to prevent and fix things before actual failure.
HP built-in tools
As you can tell from their names, HP Support Assistant and HP Diagnostics UEFI are HP-specific tools designed to test HP devices for any issues presented. These two apps should already come with your computer, but you may also download it from the HP Support site if needed.
If you can start your computer up successfully, you can launch HP Support Assistant for diagnostics and online support. If you can’t get your computer to boot to Windows, you’ll have to use HP Diagnostics UEFI at bootup.
HP Support Assistant
HP Support Assistant is where you can find all the information you need about your computer. It is also where you can run diagnostics on all components on your system. You can launch the pre-installed app to do so.
To test your system, you may run simple checks like Performance Tune-up Check for system optimization. Or run HP Hardware Diagnostics to test for potential hardware issues. This not only includes the hard drive, but also components like memory and the video card. So you might even find other hardware issues that you can fix yourself.
HP Diagnostics UEFI
You can still test your hardware for issues if you can’t boot successfully to Windows (blank or stuck at HP splash screen). To use HP Diagnostics, just hold the “Esc” key when you restart your computer to reach the startup menu. Then press “F12” for System Diagnostics.
HP Diagnostics performs a full system checkup, and will report any hardware faults with failure codes. After you note down any failure code you get, you may check with HP Customer Support to find the right solution to the failure
2. Test your hard drive with dedicated analysis software
Sometimes simple system tests aren’t enough to fully test your hard drive. Then the next step might be testing it with dedicated hard drive analysis software. Software like WD Data Lifeguard (Western Digital) or SeaTools (Seagate) are some tools you can use.
Hard drive analysis software often offers two test options: Quick and Extended. With quick tests, data on the drive is verified and and a SMART test is performed. This tests for any potential soft errors and failures. Extended tests are more thorough, with stress tests that diagnose bad sectors. They usually take longer, up to an hour or more.
With this method, you’ll have to do a little more prep than just launching an application. This involves taking out the faulty hard drive from your laptop or desktop computer, and connecting it to a different desktop computer via a SATA enclosure box. Testing the drive on a desktop computer keeps it isolated from other factors that may affect its performance. The SATA enclosure being powered by a different power source also helps for this thorough check.
While the above options can test and repair rising problems, bad sectors are unavoidable and can still cause the eventual failure of the drive. So if you may want to choose a long term solution over a short fix that may only buy you another year on the drive. This brings us to hard drive replacements.
3. Choose a hard drive replacement
Understanding what you need and want in a drive and its performance can help you choose the right drive for your computing experience. Here are a few things to look out for.
Finding your own hard drive model
Your current hard drive model can be your reference while you’re looking for a new one. By judging your experience with your current drive, you’ll be able to gauge what kind of experience you want out of your computer. You may want a faster drive, or more storage space. And comparing that with the drive you have been using can help you decide.
You can find information about your hard drive model on HP Support Assistant, along with other hardware and software information. Or you can find it from Device Manager, under “Disk Drives”. The properties page can help you find information for further research.
If your computer can’t boot correctly to get to the above methods, you can check your hard drive model from BIOS setup. This is F10 from the startup menu that is prompted by holding Esc during boot up.
Or you could just open your laptop up and see for yourself. Hard drives have information such as model and serial number printed on the front label. Taking it out for a quick look is also an easy way to familiarise yourself with your laptop.
What should I look for in a hard drive?
SATA hard drives mostly come in two physical sizes, 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch. This refers to the rough diameter of the spinning platters on the drive. Laptops generally use 2.5-inch drives, while desktop computers contain the latter. As the 2.5-inch drives are smaller to fit into the laptop bodies they relatively have less storage capacity than 3.5-inch ones.
If you’re happy with the storage space you’ve been using before, it could be a good idea to stick with that. This helps to avoid buying too much space that you won’t be using anyway.
Still determining how much space you actually need can be hard to imagine. For reference, you’d normally require 250-500GB for personal use of documents and media files. For professional use of larger media files such as creative projects, you might need at least 1TB or more.
The revolutions per minute (RPM) of the spinning platters determines how fast the drive can read and write data. It goes without saying, the faster the RPM, the faster the performance of the drive.
Consumer-grade drives usually come in either 5400RPM or 7200 RPM. As mentioned, you’d of course want to choose the higher RPM. Even so, as the moving parts do need to be powered, the higher the RPM, the more power the drive will draw. So for a more balanced but not as fast performance, 5400RPM might be the way to go.
Replacing HDD with SSD
An SSD upgrade can get you the best of both worlds. By using NAND memory, it does not contain machinery that needs to be powered. This means it draws much less power, and offers better durability and performance. SSD upgrades are more and more popular these days as a quick performance boost. Learn more in our guide to SSD upgrades.
Where can I buy a hard drive replacement?
There are many options in the world of tech hardware these days, both online and in-store. Buying from trusted retailers like Amazon or directly from HP can usually get you a reliable purchase.
If you’re keen to get some in-person advice, shopping in store can also be a great option. By going to a local retailer you may be able to get useful pointers on the right hard drive replacement for you.
4. Install your new hard drive
Now comes the real stuff. Installing your hard drive by yourself should take nothing more than a few simple tools and a few guidelines to follow. This is an almost-immediate solution to hard drive failure as you’ll be able to replace it and use it in no time.
HP Support’s YouTube channel has a lot of resources and video tutorials that show people how to replace and repair their own HP devices. Here’s one about replacing the hard drive or SSD on an HP EliteBook 840 G3 Notebook PC:
Popular tech DIY site ifixit also offers repair and upgrade guides for all sorts of hardware products, including HP products. Find a repair guide specific to your HP laptop or desktop computer there.
5. Install Windows on new drive
You won’t be able to use your computer once you’ve only installed it as there is no operating system on it. Starting it up will only prompt errors like “no operating system found”. To start using your new drive as a boot drive, a Windows installation will naturally be needed.
An easy way to reinstall Windows on your new drive is by using a USB installation media. First, download a Windows installation media onto a USB with at least 16GB capacity. Then, at startup, hold “Esc” just like before to enter the startup menu. But this time we’re not looking for F2 Diagnostics. Select F9 Boot options menu and choose which device to boot from. Install Windows, then you’re done!
To sum up, fixing hard drive issues by yourself can be a very simple and rewarding thing to accomplish. We take pride in giving the right DIY solutions, as we very much enjoy making tech easy for people. A quick tip though, always remember to backup your data. Creating regular backups not only secures your files from potential crashes, it also puts your mind at ease. Knowing that your data can be accessed from a safe place anytime is always a good feeling.
While everyone is totally capable of doing all this themselves, you may find yourself too busy or you might not have the right hardware tools. Choosing to go with a professional repair can then be something to think about.
For specialised professional repairs, you can take your computer to an HP-authorized service centre. Bringing along any information about errors reported will also be a great help to support technicians. However, their replacement and repair services offered may depend on your computer model and the state of the hard drive.
Checking your warranty before doing all this might also be a good idea. If your HP laptop or desktop computer is still under warranty, you might be able to get a free replacement and servicing from an HP-authorized service centre. If not, your only professional repair solution will be from a third-party repair service.
Speaking of third-party repairs, that’s where we can help! Located in Inner West Sydney, our technicians at Safemode Computer Service are highly rated and knowledgeable. We offer full checkup services and can provide you with the right repair solutions to any problem you might have. Call us today or drop by our Inner West store for a friendly chat.