There is no sure way to tell when your external hard drive is going to fail. There are average life expectancies and warranty coverage but the actual life of your hard drive completely depends on how it’s made and how it’s handled. There are however, a few signs that you should look out for.

These signs don’t always mean that your external drive is going out, but it’s better to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Files on a hard drive can’t be brought back to life once the drive is dead. If you suspect that the drive is going to die whether by the following signs or some other reason, you should take action immediately.

One sure sign that your hard drive is getting old is the noise that it makes. Most hard drives are very quiet with a gentle hum. As parts wear down it will get louder. You may end up hearing a buzz, which could mean the drive will stop working at any moment.

Another sign of a failing hard drive is having errors with the actual drive. This could mean problems opening files or missing files altogether. If you notice a missing file that should be there act quickly to backup all the other files before they to go missing.

As your external hard drive nears its end, it may become unrecognizable by your computer. This may happen on and off but you should always be aware that at any point it could quit working altogether. As soon as you notice this problem you should try and take it to someone who might be able to save your files while it still runs.

Slow performance is another sign that something might be wrong. As you’re saving files and removing files from the external hard drive, notice how long it takes. If there is a huge slow down with normal quick functions, this could mean your drive has a problem.

Whatever problems you run into, there are actions to be taken. Even if you don’t think the problem is a failing hard drive, you better be safe than sorry. You will want to immediately back up all your data that you can get from your external hard drive. After it’s all backed up you can continue to use the drive until it actually does fail.

Failing hard drives and external hard drives aren’t extremely common but they do happen. Because they store so much information it’s important to recognize the signs of a failing hard drive. This can save you a lot of heartache in the end.