Many factors can damage our mechanical hard drives, but whether a SATA cable can damage the hard drive or not that is debatable.
Before jumping into the main point of whether a SATA cable can damage the hard disk, we have to learn about SATA cables.
Usually, there are two types of SATA cables- a 7-pin SATA data cable which connects the motherboard & hard drive, and a 15 pins SATA power cable which connects the hard drive to the Power Supply.
Can SATA Cable Damage Hard Drive?
The SATA data cables never damage the hard drives, but a SATA power cable can damage hard drives, especially if you use a SATA power cable from a different Power Supply unit.
You might be confused, but all your doubts will go once you read this entire article.
SATA Power Cables Can Damage the HDD
The hard drive takes power from the Power Supply via a SATA power cable, and if the cable goes bad, then the hard drive won’t get the necessary power, and you will see the “Hard drive is not showing Up” message on Windows.
But this will not damage your hard drive; you can use another SATA power cable from the PSU. However, if the second cable also does not work, then your Power Supply may have some issues.
Another thing you need to keep in mind when you are using a modular Power supply-
Never replace your Power Supply cables with other PSUs; it can damage all your PC components, including the hard drives.
Let’s understand this-
If you pick a SATA cable from the Corsair Power Supply and place it in an EVGA Power Supply, then your hard drive can be damaged because PSU cables are not standardized.
So, if you use a cable in a PSU which is not designed for then, it will send incorrect voltages to the incorrect pins.
SATA Data Cables don’t Damage HDD
A SATA data cable doesn’t damage the hard drive. However, if the cable becomes faulty, you will see a message like “hard drive is not showing up.” Replacing the faulty cable with a new SATA data cable can often resolve your problems.
It is always recommended to install the hard drives properly because sometimes beginners try to forcefully plugin the data connector, which could end up damaging the hard drive’s data port.
Another factor you must remember is that some SATA cables don’t have a locking mechanism; therefore, when the motherboard gets shaken a littlebit, the connection gets lost, and it will show the message “hard drive is not showing up.” Sometimes, the cable is not faulty; instead, its connection gets loose.
SATA Adapters Can Damage The Hard Drives
The SATA splitter cables are safe to use, but the Molex to SATA adapters can sometimes go wrong especially the inexpensive ones.
The inexpensive Molex to SATA adapters lacks proper shielding, allowing an electrical arc to jump between the black (ground) and the 5.5V red or 12V yellow line.
When this kind of thing happens, the plastic between the lines is known to melt or catch fire, and if any hard drive is connected, then the drives can also be damaged. You can read this article to learn how a Molex to SATA adapter can be dangerous.
Testing The Bad SATA Cables
Testing the SATA cable, whether it is in good condition or not, is such a difficult thing. Therefore, the most prominent way to test is by plugging the devices with the cable and noticing whether the devices are working perfectly or not.
But, it was difficult to test the multiple cables by plugging them into devices one by one, so in this kind of scenario, you can buy a SATA cable tester from Amazon, which will help you a lot to detect the bad SATA cables.
Signs that SATA Cable or HDD is Going Bad
While using a PC, some problems will give you some indication that the SATA cable or the Hard Drive is degrading. Here, I mentioned some of those signs-
- Extremely low transfer rate
- Cracking sounds
- Corrupted Files (in case they don’t open)
How To Know Whether SATA Cable or HDD is Bad?
To determine whether the SATA cables or the hard drive is bad in your system, you have to test both components one by one-
Firstly, ensure that your SATA cables are in good condition. Then, buy a brand new SATA data cable and check whether the hard drive works perfectly. You can read this guide article on SATA cable buying.
If the drive is still not working or you are getting the “Hard drive not showing up” message, then use a different SATA power cable from the Power Supply.
Still, if your drive doesn’t work after doing both things, the problems might be in your hard drive. To test the hard drive, you have to do the SMART (Self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology) test.
This test will tell you whether your hard drive is failing or not by analyzing different aspects of your hard drive (read errors, reallocated sectors, failing block counts, erase fail, wear level, lifetime used, drives status, etc.)
To perform this test go to the command prompt- type in wmic diskdrive get status, and press Enter- Now, it will show the status (If the status is ok, then your hard drive is healthy, and if the status is failed, then the hard drive is unhealthy.)
You can learn more about this hard drive test by reading the hard drive SMART testing article.
Other Things That Could Damage The HDD
Sometimes the problem doesn’t exist inside the cables; some other factors can also cause damage to the hard drives; some of those factors are-
- Power surging
- Mechanical or Internal failure
- Corrupted Files
- Firmware failures
At the end of this article, SATA power cables can damage the hard drive, but the chances are very low. Other causes often do damage to hard drives.
So, identify what is causing your hard drive failure and then take steps accordingly.