How to fix SMART Hard Disk Error during startup on a Windows PC

SMART Hard Disk Error 1 (301)

Imagine booting up your PC and being greeted with this error:
SMART Hard Disk Error
The SMART hard disk check has detected an imminent failure. To ensure not data loss, please backup the content immediately and run the Hard Disk Test in System Diagnostics
Hard Disk 1 (301)

Fortunately, it gives you an option to Continue Startup by tapping the Enter button *sigh of relief*. The PC often starts up normally and everything seems to be fine again but that Enter button (Continue Startup) is one option you don’t want to get too used to in a situation like this because one day, that door will shut.

Why am I getting this error?

Whenever you boot up your PC, a hardware check is first run to ensure that all essential components are in order. If any is faulty, you’ll get a notification. Those who have damaged batteries will be well familiar with the Primary Battery Test Failed error.  In this case (SMART Hard Disk error), your Hard Disk appears to be faulty. The fault might not be serious enough to make it totally unusable but its a fault nonetheless and something that could get out of hand if not attended to…and quickly.

How do I confirm that my Hard Disk is indeed faulty?

Easy:

  • Shutdown the PC then boot it
  • Keep tapping F10 on boot till you enter BIOS
  • In BIOS, navigate to the System Diagnostics tab
  • Select Hard Disk Test
  • Wait for the result of the test

What could have caused my Hard Disk to develop a fault?

With use (read-write), your Hard Disk is bound to experience wear and tear. Factors that could cause a Hard Disk to degrade are:

  • Age (usage): You should’t expect a Hard Disk to be the same after 4 years of heavy usage.
  • Virus/ Malware: These could corrupt the Partition Tables
  • Physical damage: If a Hard Disk falls hard or encounters fluid, it’ll be more prone to developing problems
  • Insufficient storage: Actively using your Hard Disk while its always in the red (deleting just a few files to create the space you need) isn’t a really good idea
  • Loose cable: If the Hard Disk is not well seated, this could cause it to get disconnected (abruptly) during read/writes and this is bad for a storage device
  • Heavy fragmentation: A heavily fragmented Hard Disk makes read-writes much more tedious

What do you advise I do once I start getting this error?

When you start encountering this error, the first thing you should do is to backup your important files to an external storage device so you don’t lose anything dear. Once they’re secure, you need to fix the Hard Disk.

How do I fix this SMART Hard Disk Error?

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Some Hard Disk repair techniques you could consider are (refer to https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-fix-repair-corrupt-memory-card-sd-card-or-usb-drive/ ):

1. Scan and fix the Hard Disk (C:) using CHKDSK (same applies to other storage devices)

  • Press the Windows button or launch the Start menu
  • Type cmd.exe and run as Administrator (this is important else you’ll be denied access). To run as Administrator, Right-click then Select Run as Administrator
  • In Command Prompt, type

chkdsk C: /f /r /x
* C: represents the Drive Letter (Hard Disk is C . Depending on the storage device you’re scanning, the Drive Letter might vary e.g E, F, I, H etc)
* /f means fix any errors found
* /r means locate the bad sectors on the drive and recover readable information
* /x means force the drive to dismount before the process starts

  • Since you’re scanning C: in this case, it can’t be locked during use by your OS so you’ll get a prompt asking you to schedule the volume to be checked the next time the system restarts
  • Type Y then press Enter
  • Reboot the PC to initiate the scan

how to fix a hard disk using chkdsk

2. Run a Hard Disk Check

  • Open any folder > Right-click Local Disk (C:) > Select Properties

how to do a hard disk check in windows

  • Click on the Tools tab and click Check

how to check a hard disk for errors in windows

  • Click Scan drive

how to scan a hard disk in windows

  • Wait till the scan is complete and allow Windows fix any errors found

how to scan a hard disk for errors in Windows

  • Back in the Tools tab, Click Optimize

how to optimize drives in Windows

In the Optimize Drives wizard, click Optimize and wait till its complete

how to optimize drives in Windows

3. Format the PC

This requires you to re-install the Operating System and format the Hard Disk in the process (see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-format-a-pc/)

4. Slave the Hard Disk to another PC

Take out the Hard disk > Slave it to another PC > Fix it > Install Windows on it (see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-create-a-portable-version-of-windows-on-a-usb-hard-disk-drive/) > Slot the Hard Disk back into the PC

5. Fix other Hard Disk issues using System Optimizers like Advanced System Care

6. Scan the PC with a good and updated Antivirus

I’ve tried all the above steps but the error persists, what do I do next?

You best change your Hard Disk.

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