By AOMEI / Last Updated June 13, 2019

Tips: When you receive this warning message, the bad news is your hard disk will fail sooner or later, the good news is you can use Free Backup Software to backup it in case of data loss.

The Scenario

"I have a Toshiba Satellite L505-S5988 with Windows 7 Ultimate. It is 3+ years old and the hard drive is Toshiba MK3263GSX. Last night I turned on my laptop and I got a black screen on start-up saying: SMART Failure Predicted on Hard Disk. I pressed F1 to continue, and computer was starting up normally. A few minutes after the start-up was finished loading, I got this warning message: Windows detected a hard disk problem. Backup your files immediately to prevent information loss…What does it mean and what can I do to fix it?"

Windows Detected Hard Disk Problem

Once you got this warning message, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Firstly, you should know the fact that your hard drive failure is imminent and may die sooner or later. This means you could lose all of your data, programs, documents, videos, music, and photos you have stored on the hard disk. Secondly, your computer may take a longer time to load than it ever did or stuck and stop responding with increasing frequency. Finally, your system files may eventually become corrupted and thus unbootable.

Before you try to fix the error, you may ask how Windows detected a hard disk problem. No matter a hard drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD) available on the market today, it usually uses SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) which is a firmware that resides on drive to continuously tracks disk condition such as performance and error rates, and reports the problems to Windows. A SMART HDD or SSD problem warning may come out for many different reasons such as bad sectors, higher temperature, disk fragmentation, human error, etc. The SMART uses a technology known as predictive failure analysis to warn you a hard disk problem, not an actual problem. The hard disk in your computer right now is not yet failed, but will be sooner or later. Could be in one day, could be in a week. Who knows? Therefore, it is better to take precautions, just in case the disk problem happens.

The Solutions

Solution 1: Replace hard disk with a new one with free disk cloning software

If the computer is in warranty, you can contact your computer manufacturer for assistance in replacing your hard disk with a new one when the Windows has detected a hard disk problem. It is a very good idea. You can use free hard disk cloning software like AOMEI Backupper Standard to migrate OS and transfer all data and programs to the new hard disk before you are caught by a hard disk problem. Then, below is a guide on how to replace HDD by cloning hard disk to hard disk:

Step 1: Connect a new hard disk to your computer or put it in an external HDD enclosure. Whatever makes sure it can be recognized by Windows.

Step 2: Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Select "Disk Clone" under "Clone" tab as show below.

Step 3: Select the old hard disk as source (here is Disk0), and then click "Next" to continue.

Select Old Disk

Step 4: Select the new hard disk as destination (here is Disk1), and then click "Next" to continue.

Select New Disk

Step 5: On the operation summary window, there are three options available to choose. At last, click "Start Clone".

Start Clone

After disk cloning is completed, you can remove the old hard disk and connect the new one to the socket of the old disk. Disk Clone ensures the new hard disk completely takes over in place of the old one while keeping OS and all your data and software intact.

Solution 2: Backup hard disk with free yet complete software

If the computer is out of warranty and currently you don’t have budgets to buy a new hard disk for HDD replacement. You also can prevent data loss by creating a disk image regularly. If you go through Solution 1, you will find AOMEI Backupper Standard is not only free clone software, but also free backup software. Besides, it fully supports all Windows PC operating systems, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1/8, Windows 7, Vista and XP (all editions, 32/64-bit).

Step 1: Prepare the hardware or determine where to save backup image. AOMEI Backupper supports to backup a disk to external hard drives, USB flash drives, CD/DVD, NAS devices and Network shared folders.

Step 2: Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Select "Disk Backup" under "Backup" tab.

Disk Backup

Step 3: You can edit the "Task Name", and then click "Step1" to select the disks you want to backup. Also, click "Step2" to select a location to save backup image. You also can click "Backup Options" to configure the task such as compression, splitting, VSS, etc. To backup your hard disk regularly, you can tick "Schedule" to create an automatic backup such as daily, weekly, and monthly.

Backup Disk

Step 4: When all have been selected, click "Start Backup".

Start Backup

To be honest, no matter whether you have got "Windows detected a hard disk problem" or not, backing up your hard disk regularly is a good habit to prevent system crash and data loss. Once you are caught by disk failure, you can buy a new hard disk and create a bootable media to restore disk image.