Being able to spot a dying hard drive is more of an art then an exact science…. Many factors are attributed to total failure. I have found that heat, noises and bad performance are the 3 major giveaways. Hard drives have different ways of dying, however, and the worst (most unpredictable way) is the controller PCB failing. It’s hard to diagnose, and can be harder to retrieve data from it.
The best chance you have of saving data is to think about replacing a hard drive before complete malfunction. Plan A is more important; performing regular backups.
A couple of years ago, I was fleeced… I bought Norton Ghost without expecting support to end shortly after…. with the eventual discontinuation of the product completely. I remember when Ghost was always at the top of my toolbox.
Required to copy the entire drive to a new one, I needed an alternative… and Acronis True Image 2017 came up trumps! It now sits proudly at the top of my toolbox.