Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

This is a typical error for a hard drive failure... and another example of just how critical it is to have a full backup of your system.

Hi Leo. I have a serious problem with my Dell PC. I bought it about five years ago. The OS is Windows Vista Home Premium. It was very noisy in the last few months. Three days ago, it stopped working, and the following message box has appeared: Windows delayed write failed. Failed to save all the components for the file system 32/something or other More than 20 message boxes, I think.

I've done a virus scan and a Trojan virus was found and already deleted. The results after the diagnostic was Disk drive C:/ is unreadable. Hard drive rational speed decreased by 20%. Damage cluster detected. Boot sector to the hard drive is damaged. Windows detected a hard disk problem. Hard drive clusters are partly damaged. Segment load failure. Windows delayed write failed. Failed to save all components for the file (another 20). All of the data in my C drive is gone. It can't read. It also can't read the external HDs. I've done a recovery to an earlier date and it looked like it was normal again, but only for half a day, then it wouldn't work again. What seems to be the problem? Is the hard disk drive damaged and it does need to be replaced?

In this excerpt from Answercast #13, I look at the errors being delivered by a failing system and the value of a full backup when faced with a hard drive failure.

Your hard drive is broken

This is a classic case of the system telling you your hard drive is broken. There is something physically wrong with the hard drive and it is not working. You're absolutely right, "The hard drive needs to be replaced."

Saved by the backup

This is why I strongly recommend people back up routinely and regularly. It sounds like you've done that since you were able to recover to an earlier date.

Unfortunately, recovering a backup and placing in on to a fundamentally broken hard drive will not fix the drive. It's a physical problem; it's not the data that's wrong; it's the drive itself inside is broken.

Numerous errors

Things like the rotational speed (I assume it's a rotational speed that you really meant) "decreased by 20%" - that's a bad thing. "Damaged cluster" - that's a bad thing.

Those are all things that are indications of physical problems on the disk. The disk drive itself needs to be replaced. Replace it and then restore to the most recent functional backup, and you should be fine.

Drive failure warnings

This is a case also where you actually had warning. "It was very noisy in the last few months," is what you said.

Depending on the noise, if it's a new noise (if it's the kind of a thing where you've used the computer for four or five years and you know what it sounds like and now all of a sudden it's making a new noise), that's worth investigating. That's worth understanding because it could be the sign of an imminent hard disk failure... if the noise is coming from the hard disk.

I would bet that in this particular case, that's exactly what happened. The hard disk was basically in the process of going bad for the last few months, and it finally just gave up and was unable to continue.

So, replace the hard disk, restore from a backup and you should be good to go.

Article C5269 - April 29, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Raja Jeevan Kumar Maduri
April 29, 2012 8:27 PM

I have seen the error a while ago. I tried reformatting the hard drive and haven't seen this issue in a while. However, I get to see the same error listed in this article when I attach my external hard disk drive and am trying to copy the data existent on my external HDD to my harddisk (only experienced it occassionally!!). How do I detect physical failures on my HDD? Are there any tools out there to detect the same? Thanks a ton for getting me the answers

Mark J
April 30, 2012 12:43 AM

Running chkdsk will find bad sectors on your hard drive and attempt to fix them. A large number of errors, or if your disk continues to get bad sectors after repairing them are signs of a failing hard drive and indicates that it's time to replace the drive.
How do I fix errors on my hard disk?
How do I fix a bad sector on my hard drive?

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.