How to Troubleshoot Hard Drive or Solid State Drive Issues on a Dell Computer

How to Troubleshoot Hard Drive or Solid State Drive Issues on a Dell Computer

This article takes you through some common hard drive issues. Issues that your PC reports as a problem with the Operating System or the Storage Drive (HDD or SSD). Some of these issues can be resolved without replacing parts and some require you to narrow down the faulty part before taking it further.

Note: Before you begin, there are several terms and types of HDD or SSD that are in common usage. You can find out more about storage drives in general and specific on the following link:
Note: If there are any other issues with the machine, please troubleshoot those faults before following this guide.

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Hard Drive Troubleshooting:

Troubleshooting your Hard Drive video (YouTube) - 2:19 (English Only)

Note: Click Show All or the Title you want more information about.

The symptoms that you can identify help decide what further troubleshooting is required:

Your PC does not boot

Your PC boots, but the operating system locks up, hangs, restarts or another error happens

Your system reports an HDD or SSD error onscreen

Such as:

Hard Drive not Detected
No Boot Device Found
No Boot Partition Found
Data error Reading Drive
Seek error - Sector not found
Missing Operating System
Drive not Ready
Blank screen with flashing Cursor
Hard Disk Drive Failure
Primary Hard Disk Failure

The issue is with an external drive

Your system is making an abnormal noise

You see RAID error messages

You see FDE (Full Drive Encryption) error messages

Tapping the F2 key during startup takes you into the BIOS on the majority of Dell's PCs. Alternately, you can tap the F12 key and choose the BIOS from the boot menu.

  • If the HDD is reported correctly in the BIOS, then continue with the troubleshooting.

  • If the HDD is not seen by the BIOS, then continue directly to physical troubleshooting.

Note: Best Practices: Dell recommends you keep your system, including the BIOS up to date with the latest software updates available from the Dell Support site for your PC.

Can you Identify your drive?

If you do not know what the BIOS should be reporting. You need to identify the hardware in your system. The easiest way to do this is to go to the Dell Product Page for your system on another PC. Enter your faulty systems service tag.

Product Details: View System Configuration - will list the hardware that shipped with your PC.

If you suspect your hard drive of failing, you can run diagnostics to test the Hard Drive:

Refer to the Dell Hard Drive Diagnostics page for further assistance.

If you are unable to boot the system to access the Dell Online Diagnostics, use the Dell Preboot System Diagnostics.

If you get back a Read/Write error or the drive passes, then I'd recommend you go to the Repair tools instructions.

If you get back a drive not found error, then proceed to the physical troubleshooting instructions.

If you get a SMART error, then head to the reporting instructions.

Using the Check Disk and System File Check utilities resolves issues with corrupted drives and faulty operating systems. Sometimes it will only resolve the issue long enough for you to attempt to recover data from the drive before fitting a replacement. Sometimes it does not achieve anything at all, and you need to proceed to the Diagnostics and other troubleshooting methods.

You can get step-by-step instructions on running these tools on the following articles:

Read/Write and Operating system errors are the most common cause of No Boot and Operating System issue:

The following articles deal specifically with No Boot issues:

While these articles deal with troubleshooting the software and Operating System on your PC. They will narrow down your software troubleshooting if the boot drive has been ruled out:

Note: You can find a step-by-step guide to removing and reseating parts for your particular model or system in your User Guide. You can get this with your Service Tag at the Dell Support Site.

There are four main reasons to go inside the system and physically troubleshoot the storage drive:

  • Drives and cables can become loose over time, sometimes just reseating the drive and re-plugging the drive cables can often resolve an issue

  • Sometimes disconnecting the drive from the system, can reveal if the fault still occurs. In the case of a noisy drive - identify the drive as being at fault because the noise stops

  • Moving the drive to another port on the motherboard can identify issues with the internal port

  • On most desktops, swapping out the cables can identify issues with the power or data cables (These are interchangeable with the optical drive.)

Note: Dell business systems have a quick troubleshooting step to rule out a storage drive issue. In offices where there are many identical systems, with the same specifications. You can quickly swap your system drive with your colleagues and see where the fault goes. If it follows the drive, it is the drive. If it stays with the system, then there is something else wrong. This 2-way swap only works because the machines are identical.

This is helpful in resolving drive not found issues:

Hard Drive not detected video (YouTube) - 1:42 (English Only)

If your issue continues or you are unable to go inside your PC, then proceed to the reporting instructions.

Note: The initial troubleshooting for any hardware issue is going to be identical. If there is any damage to the system or part, it is not considered to be In Warranty. If you have Accidental Damage Cover in addition to your standard warranty, then it is OK. If there is no damage, then, please proceed.

If you go to the following article, it takes you through how to report an issue with your hard drive. How to check if you can replace the drive under warranty. It also gives information if you need to purchase a new drive or pay for someone to fit it on your behalf:

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Additional Information:

The following article takes you through troubleshooting an HDD/SSD suspected of making an abnormal noise. (Such as a ticking/clicking/clacking/cracking noise) This can be quickly confirmed by disconnecting the suspected part and identifying if the noise has stopped:

If you are seeing RAID errors, it is equally possible the issue is with your RAID setup. It may not be an issue with one of the drives involved. Use the following article to troubleshoot your RAID setup further:

There are essentially two types of external HDD/Storage drives in common use. They both use either a USB or eSATA cable or connector to connect to your system:

  • The external drive takes power from your system

  • The external drive supplies its own power from a separate power adapter

Note: The eSATA connector is not widely used by most mainstream products. If you want to know more about eSATA and its troubleshooting, please check out the following article:

Any external HDD USB Device is considered a peripheral device and works the same way as any other external USB device. Please read and use the following article to troubleshoot your USB device:

Note: A Dell external HDD comes with a standard 1-year warranty and does not carry the warranty of a Dell PC. Most external HDDs are manufactured by third-party companies, and the warranty for the device remains with that particular company. If the fault is confirmed as being with a third-party drive, you need to contact the manufacturer.

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If you require further assistance, please contact Technical Support.
Contact Us

Out of Warranty support Out of warranty? No problem click here, enter your Service Tag and view our offers.
Currently, offers are only available for US, Canada, UK, and France PC Customers. Server and Storage not applicable.

Article ID: SLN155163

Last Date Modified: 06/15/2020 02:45 AM

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