Recently I decided to run a diagnostic on my HP from the BIOS. I ran the S.M.A.R.T test, and it gave the '303' error. HP's support says that it means 'Imminent failure and loss of data', but my computer appears to be running fine, and I have expierienced
few system freezes (I get one every once in a while). I have had this computer for just a little over a year and don't understand how the HDD could already be failing. Is my HDD really failing? Or is this just a glitch, or a problem that could be easily fixed?
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I'd believe it if I were you. Immediately back up the disk using an imaging/cloning program.
SMART attempts to predict failure, not to announce that your disk has already failed. Modern hard drives are able to automatically deal with some hardware errors, but one of the things that SMART checks is whether too many of such errors have occurred.
Sooner or later -- and probably sooner -- the disk is likely it irreversibly fail. Once that happens, your data is lost unless you have a backup.
If you have a Western Digital drive, you can get a version of Acronis True Image free from WD (http://support.wdc.com/product/downloaddetail.asp?swid=119) or you can
obtain cloning software separately (this is not a comprehensive list and is no particular order; some are free, others not):