View All R&D Articles

“Hard Disk Failure Is Imminent” Error Message: What to Know

February 23, 2024

During the startup process, certain HP, Dell, and Lenovo computers may present a “hard disk failure is imminent” error message. As you might expect, this is a serious symptom — and if you’re looking for fast answers, you should immediately disconnect the power to any computer that displays this error message. 

The error message is presented when the hard drive’s SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) reports symptoms that indicate an impending failure.

The exact issues that prompt the “hard disk failure is imminent” message can vary, but if you’re seeing the message, your drive failed an important SMART test. Some common causes for SMART failure include: 

  • A large number of reported uncorrectable errors.
  • A slower spin-up time.
  • A high number of read retries. 
  • A high uncorrectable sector count.
  • Electrical issues.

Can I fix the “hard disk failure is imminent” message without replacing my hard drive?

Probably not. You might check your hard drive’s connections — occasionally, a loose cable will cause a SMART error — but otherwise, the error indicates a serious issue. You cannot fix SMART errors with software, and running utilities like chkdsk may cause permanent data loss. 

Related: Before Using Data Recovery Software, Read This

I need the data from my drive. Does the “hard disk failure is imminent” message mean that it’s gone forever? 

No. In fact, the data may be accessible after the message is presented — but if the data is truly important, the best course of action is to turn the drive off immediately.

SMART events do not guarantee that your hard drive will fail, but the chances of a failure are extremely high. If your hard drive still seems operational — it’s not making unusual noises or showing other symptoms of a physical issue — you probably won’t pay too much for professional data recovery.

But if you operate the hard drive and it fails, the read/write heads may come into direct contact with the platters. That can result in rotational scoring (the magnetic material on the platters is physically removed from the disc).

Severe rotational damage can occur in a matter of seconds. Here’s what rotational damage looks like: 

Rotational Hard Drive Platter Damage

Rotational damage to hard drive platters.

By keeping your drive powered off, you’ll avoid any potential rotational damage. And while professional data recovery can be expensive, pricing is based on the complexity of the case. If a hard drive is nearly operational, engineers should be able to address the root cause of the problem at a reasonable price. provides free evaluations and a no data, no charge guarantee. offers a no data, no charge policy for all hard drive failure scenarios, which provides peace of mind as your case progresses. Each of our full-service laboratories is outfitted with industry-leading technology to ensure high success rates, low recovery costs, and fast turnaround times.

Each case begins with a risk-free evaluation. Contact us today at 1-800-237-4200 or fill out our online case form to get started.