11 Aug 2011
How to protect your hard drive from failing
Hard drives are precious devices that hold the all data, so they should be given the best of care. Inevitably, those drives will die. But you can take steps to prevent a premature hard disk death.
Separate OS install from user data
If there are 2 or more hard drives on your PC, use drive C for an operating system and programs such as Microsoft Office, Photoshop, etc.
Use drives D, E ,.. for users data.
If you have just one hard drive, use drive partitioning.
Advantages: doing this will easily extend the life of the drive the OS is installed on, as well as allow you to transfer the user data easily should an OS drive fail.
Hard disks are eventually going to contain errors. These errors can come in the shape of physical problems, software issues, partition table issues, and more. The Windows chkdsk program will attempt to handle any problems, such as bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files, and/or directory errors. These errors can quickly lead to an unbootable drive, which will lead to downtime for the end user.
To have it run at next boot with use command chkdsk X: /f where X is the drive you want to check. This command will inform you the disk is locked and will ask you if you want to run chkdsk the next time the system restarts. Select Y to allow this action.
Add a monitor to your hard drive
There are a lot of programs that will monitor the health of your drives. One such application is Acronis Drive Monitor, a free tool that will monitor everything from hard drive temperature to percentage of free space (and everything in between). ADM can be set up to send out email alerts if something is amiss on the drive being monitored. Getting these alerts is a simple way to remain proactive in the fight against drive failure.
Don’t overheat your hard drive
Watch for the temperature of your hard drive and if it is necessary, provide a ventilation and even add a fan to pull out that stale, warm air generated by the PC.
Beware of static electricity
Static electricity is the enemy of computer components. When you handle them, make sure you ground yourself first. This is especially true in the winter months or in areas of drier air. If you seem to get shocked every time you touch something, that’s a good sign that you must use extra caution when handling those drives.
NEVER place drives on stereo speakers, TVs, and other appliances/devices that can give off an electromagnetic wave. Most of these appliances have magnets that are not strong enough to erase a data from your drive. But it is better to avoid even slight possibility of your data loss.
Defragment your drive
A fragmented drive is a drive being pushed to work harder than it should. All hard drives should be used in their most efficient states to avoid excess wear and tear. This includes defragmenting. To be on the safe side, set your PC(s) to automatically defrag on a weekly basis. Or if you are using your computer very often, defragment your hard drive twice a week. This works to extend the life of your drive by keeping the file structure more compact, so the read heads are not moving as much or as often.
Eventually, that drive will fail. If you have solid backups, at least the transition from one drive to another will be painless. There are plenty of applications which provide backup of your data. For example: Acronis Universal Restore, you can transfer a machine image from one piece of hardware to another piece of hardware with very little issue.
Use solid state drive
Solid state drives are, for all intents and purposes, just large flash drives, so they have no moving parts. Without moving parts, the life of the drive (as a whole) is naturally going to be longer than it would if the drive included read heads, platters, and bearings. Although these drives are costly, they will save you money in the long run by offering a longer lifespan. That means less chances of drive failure, which will cause downtime as data is recovered and transferred.
Take advantage of power save
On nearly every OS, you can configure your hard drive to spin down after a given time. Windows 7 uses the Balanced Power Savings plan, which will turn off the hard drive after 20 minutes of inactivity. When the drive goes to sleep, the drive is not spinning. When the drive is not spinning it has longer lifespan.
Tighten your hard drive
Keeping your hardware nice and tight will help extend the life of that hardware.
Loose mounting screws (which secure the hard drive to the PC chassis) can cause excessive vibrations. Those vibrations can damage to the platters of a standard hard disk. If you hear vibrations coming from within your PC, open it and make sure the screws securing the drive to the mounting platform are tight.