Ask the Expert

Time to replace my hard drive?

I am running XP on my PC. About one month ago, an error message started appearing each time I would turn on my machine, stating, "Primary master hard disk SMART status bad, Warning - immediately back-up your data & replace your HDD, a failure may be imminent." I can still use the PC by defaulting to continue. I ran a check on the hard disk that came up clean. What should I do?
SMART stands for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology and is a diagnostic tool built into computer to help predict hard drive failures. If you're still getting this, odds are something mechanical is failing. You do have a good backup, right? I like Acronis TrueImage - you may want to try it to backup your entire disk. Contact your computer manufacturer and see what they say. Otherwise, I'd look into replacing the drive soon. You can do that yourself or have a local computer service person/company do it for you.

This was first published in February 2007

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