Whether you have a solid state or mechanical drive there is always a chance the device will fail. Regardless of the type of drive, your computer usually will show subtle signs of a pending disk failure. Paying attention to these signs can save you from unexpectedly losing the data stored on your drive, says Roberto Caprio, MD, Dial a Nerd.

* Intermittent file corruption or missing files – hard drives store data in a specific place that is then later used to retrieve the data when you need it. If the drive is failing, your computer might display an icon for a file, but won’t be able to open it. Instead the computer randomly returns an error that the data is invalid or corrupt.

* Your drive sometimes isn’t detected – one of the more common signs of a failing drive is for the computer to simply stop recognizing a drive. If the drive is your main boot drive, you won’t be able to boot the computer. If the drive is a secondary drive, you won’t see the drive letter listed when you search for your drive. When your drive is no longer detected it is most likely damaged.

* Extended amount of time to open files or folders – your computer can take several minutes to open a file that normally opened quickly. In some instances, the file doesn’t open and a “Blue Screen of Death” is returned instead. Slow boot-up times are also signs that a drive is failing, as critical system files have become corrupt or gone missing.

* Strange loud noises coming from a mechanical drive – when the hard drive’s head touches the platter or the mechanical parts for the head are going bad, you sometimes hear a loud clicking sound from within the drive. These noises occur when you boot, reboot or just load a program. Such an occurrence is a clear sign that the drive is going to fail imminently.

* Drive auditing tools show bad sectors – there are several error-checking tools available, but Windows has its own tool included with the operating system. The tool is found when you right-click the drive in “My Computer” and select “Properties.” Click the “Tools” tab and click “Check Now.” Windows scans the drive for any errors and reports back that you have severe issues with the drive.

If you think your drive is failing you should make sure to backup your data to a safe place. If you can’t buy a new drive immediately, consider moving your data to a cloud drive or a secondary drive to avoid a painful loss of data.

Remember that Dial a Nerd friendly technicians are always one phone call away and ready to assist with any and all computer related issues; whether you are a business needing structured IT support, a school requiring network maintenance or an individual user.