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What Is HP’s SMART Hard Disk Error 301?

June 13, 2022

Most computers perform a basic test on hard disk drives (HDDs) during startup to verify that each disk is available, usable, and functional. Of course, every hard drive eventually fails — and when this occurs, you might encounter hard disk error 301. 

This error code is associated with HP laptops. HP’s SMART check is a custom-built hardware check similar to the POST diagnostic testing system used by all Windows machines. 

Here are HP’s recommendations for dealing with this error code:

You can attempt to reseat the hard drive and repeat the test. The hard disk drive may have failed. Contact HP support for further assistance. 

That message isn’t exactly descriptive — and it’s nearly identical to the “possible user actions” listed for HP error codes 302, 303, 304, 305, and 306. 

Here’s what SMART hard disk error 301 actually means and steps you can take to avoid data loss.

An Overview of SMART Hard Disk Error 301

Error 301 usually indicates a hardware issue. The computer cannot interface with the hard disk, which prevents a successful boot — this can occur for numerous reasons, but none of them are good news.

Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) is a system intended to identify the signs of failing HDDs and report symptoms before failures cause data loss. However, if a hard drive suddenly becomes unavailable, SMART errors aren’t predictive; they’re reactive. 

SMART Error 301 commonly occurs for the following reasons: 

  • The hard drive has physically failed due to a head crash, logic board damage, or for another reason. 
  • The hard drive is no longer attached to the computer. Since error 301 is associated with HP laptops, this may occur if the computer falls onto a hard surface. 
  • The hard drive cannot interface with the computer due to file corruption, virus damage, or for another logical (non-physical) reason.
  • The computer has overheated, preventing normal operation. 

Below, we’ll address several potential fixes for this error code. However, it’s important to recognize that any attempt to operate a failed hard drive can cause data loss, particularly if the drive makes unusual noises (such as a clicking sound) or if the computer operated slowly prior to the failure. 

If you need to recover data from an HP laptop, the safest course of action is to keep the computer powered off. Contact a reputable data recovery company with dedicated hard drive recovery laboratories. offers free evaluations for all hard drive data recovery scenarios. With a no data, no charge guarantee and fully equipped laboratories at every location, we’re ready to help. Call 1-800-237-4200 to get started or click here to submit a case online.

How to Address SMART Hard Disk Error 301

SMART hard disk error 301 usually indicates a failed hard drive. If that’s the case, your only option is to replace the failed disk (HP’s warranty covers drive replacements, but in most circumstances, it does not cover the costs of data recovery). 

However, in some scenarios, the error may be fixable. Try the following steps:

  1. Turn your computer off. Unplug it from its power source, remove the battery, and press the power button for about 30 seconds. 
  2. Let the computer rest. If the computer feels hot to the touch, it may have overheated. Inspect exhaust fans to make sure they’re clear, then allow the computer to rest for at least 30 minutes before proceeding. 
  3. Reinstall the battery and try starting your computer. 
  4. If the problem isn’t resolved, inspect the hard drive. Make sure that it’s connected and seated properly, then attempt to restart the computer. 
  5. If the previous steps failed to fix the problem, you can try hooking the hard drive to another computer. 

Always ground yourself and wear anti-static protection when working directly with computer components. If you’re uncomfortable disassembling your laptop — or if doing so would void your warranty — take the device to a qualified computer repair shop. 

Recovering Data from an HP Laptop

If you’re able to access the data on your hard drive following a SMART 301 error, back up all important files as soon as possible. However, if you absolutely need the data and the hard drive presents any symptoms of a physical failure, we recommend keeping the drive powered off and working with a professional data recovery provider. Operating a drive in a nearly failed state can corrupt files and can potentially lead to permanent data loss.

Common signs of physical hard drive failure include:

  • Clicking, whirring, or grinding sounds
  • Slow operation, particularly when opening large files
  • Failure to boot consistently
  • Corrupt or unreadable files

This is not an exhaustive list of symptoms. Ultimately, if the data is essential, the safest course of action is to keep the drive powered off. 

To get a free media evaluation, fill out our online form or contact our team at 1-800-237-4200. Our no data, no charge guarantee protects against unexpected costs as your case progresses, and with industry-leading technology and certified cleanrooms at every location, provides peace of mind — and fast access to your data.