How to Check if Your Hard Drive Is Failing

Hard drive failure can have catastrophic consequences, but monitoring your hard drive’s health can help you avoid critical data loss.

What does S.M.A.R.T stand for?

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology. A S.M.A.R.T. test predicts the lifespan of your drive. Run it if you suspect your drive is about to fail, and act quickly if you get a negative result.

How to run a hard drive S.M.A.R.T. test on Windows

Running a hard drive check on Windows 10 is an absolute cinch. Here’s how to run a S.M.A.R.T. hard drive test on PC:

Type cmd in the taskbar and click Command Prompt.

A screenshot of a PC user entering "cmd" in the taskbar, and the Command Prompt app is circled.

Type or paste the following command: wmic diskdrive get status.

Results will read either “OK” or “Pred Fail.” The first line of results applies to your C: drive (the main partition of your hard drive), while the other results apply to any other drive you’ve got connected.

A screenshot of the SMART test results in command prompt; a line reading "OK" appears below the input, which is "wmic diskdrive get status."
  • OK means just that: you’ve got nothing to worry about.
  • Pred Fail is bad news, and it’s a sure sign that you should back up and replace your drive. When the included software diagnoses a problem, you’d better listen.

Signs of hard drive failure

These are the hard-drive failure symptoms that should prompt you to think about replacing your hard drive, or at least running a S.M.A.R.T. scan.

  • Overheating: Your hard drive can overheat for many reasons, like dust collecting or a fan getting old and dirty. The subsequent heat can damage the components in and around the hard drive. If you’re feeling lots of heat, it may be time to replace these components.
  • Strange noises: Unusual sounds, like grinding or whining noises, can indicate an internal component on its last legs. A fan or hard drive might be struggling against the weight of overuse. You might not need to replace the whole system, but a data loss could happen if you’re not careful.
  • Corrupted data, files, and folders: One of the surest signs of a dying hard drive is data corruption. Data becomes corrupted when the disk itself is having problems retaining information. If part of the disk has started to degrade, there’s a good chance the rest is soon to follow.
  • Blue Screen of Death errors: Error screens are usually the result of data becoming unexpectedly inaccessible. A computer can fix this automatically by moving essential system files to a new part of the drive. Repeated blue screens mean your hard drive is failing, and your computer is having a difficult time keeping your files safe.
  • Freezing or slowdowns: A slower computer could mean that your files are becoming harder to access. Corrupted sectors can build up and cause files to split into fragments. This makes it harder for your drive to open a file and increases mechanical wear.
  • Operating system unable to boot: A hard drive can become so compromised that it fails to boot system files at all. Data may still be retrievable, but you’ve run out of grace periods at this point. It’s time to recover your data and get a new hard drive


You should get a new hard drive. If only because you ran a test on the drive and the test failed… and you don’t want to speculate on when the drive will completely fail

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