What to Do After Your Computer Crashes

In the world of computing, few things nurture anxiety like a sudden crash. Thoughts soon turn to the critical data you may have lost and that backup you should have made. In most cases, however, the consequences are never as bad as we expect. Unless you experienced an actual hardware failure – specifically a hard disk crash – your data is likely to remain. That said, to figure out what went wrong and how to recover, you need to understand some basics.

Why it Happens

Since computers can differ in a lot of ways, there’s no universal crash scenario. Sometimes it’s the frightening blue screen of death (BSoD). Other times, it’s just a string of error messages. In every case, however, a computer crashes either because of errors in the hardware or errors in the operating system (OS) software.

Usually the most common reason for a crash, software errors are much less worrisome, because they have little to do with the computer itself. On the other hand, hardware errors can be devastating, especially since they can be difficult to diagnose.

Logical Hard Drive Failure

Logical failures happen when a hard drive is undamaged but you are still unable to boot into the OS. This might be caused by a software malfunction, system driver conflict, human error or a virus.

When this occurs, there are a number of things you can try. First, try accessing the computer using Safe Mode and perform a clean shutdown and restart. If you have a light crash on a PC due to bad software or drivers, you can also use System Restore to roll-back windows to an earlier time when things worked properly. If worst comes to worst, you can also try reinstalling windows from the original CD. There are a number of other ways to access a crashed drive; however, these are generally best left to the experts.

Physical Hard Drive Failure

If you cannot access your computer’s operating system or the computer shows signs of a physical hard drive failure, you will usually require expert help. Many times, you will notice these signs by way of a grinding, pinging, clunking, whirring or clicking noise unrelated to the fan. When this occurs, it’s a clear sign your hard drive’s days are numbered.

Still, even if your computer crash is caused by a hard drive malfunction, there is still a strong possibility the data is still accessible and intact. In most cases, a data recovery professional can recover this information as long as the drive disk is not substantially damaged.