While this post will be mostly related to the computer Hard Disk Drives (HDD), it may be definitely applied to all other devices, relying on Hard Drive performance, as your portable music devices, video cameras, or the DVRs on top of your TV. In spite of the fast and successful penetration on the consumer markets the alternative technologies, like flash, the HDD still represent the most favorable combination of "fast" and "inexpensive" solutions for the high volume devices. The strong and weak points of the hard drives are their moving parts, so there is always certain probability of failure. And what is the most disturbing is that the failure might happen with no preliminary warning.
In this post, we will offer some approaches on how to extend the life of your hard drive and how to prevent its premature failure or death from the old age. While that is quite effective, there is never a guarantee that it will live forever, or by the moment you decide to replace it, so keep in mind that the HDD backup and essential data backup solutions (preferably, to multiple locations) are the only guarantee that your data will not be lost. You can find free utilities to assist you performing the task in the content menu listing on the right sidebar.
So, there are several recommendations on how to help extend the operating live of your hard drive.
- Keep the drive in a stable and decent environment, following the instructions from the HDD manufacturers, which are usually posted in the enclosed documentation. Definitely, that is more than generic recommendation, but we will review several aspects of what is considered as decent environment in more details below.
- Keep the computer clean. As any smart device the regular home dust may impact the performance of the computer. Just turn your imagination on what dust can do to your hard disk, but not just HDD, but other vital computer components as your motherboard, CPU, ram, power supply, etc. It definitely may slow down your computer. So, perform computer cleaning once awhile. Use compressed air duster, vacuum cleaner, and put special attention on fans, especially CPU fan, to keep your computer cool with high performance. The computer should be turned off when you perform the procedure. Be careful not to touch the cables and connectors, when you do that.
- Keep the computer cool. The previous step, among other, addresses the computer performance temperature issue, since clogged ventilation and poorly performing fans due to the contamination is the direct call for troubles. However, you should ensure the other means to keep the computer in normal temperature, ensuring adequate ventilation. It is NOT recommended to keep the computer in an enclosed cabinet, or to place your notebook in a car at the direct sunlight exposure.
- While that is not much appropriate advice for the home environment, you may be exposed to the factor at you job, where you carry your notebook or portable device. This factor is vibration. Try to avoid operating your smart device equipped with HDD in excessive vibration environment.
- Next are magnetic fields. They might affect your HDD performance as well. Try to limit the computer exposure as much as possible and never stick magnets to the side of your computer. Keep it away as possible from speakers, cell phones, radio and so on, to avoid the hard disk damage as the information there is recorded by the magnetization.
- You probably know already that your HDD does not like momentary interruptions in the process of operations. Therefore, you were taught that you should shut down the computer in orderly way, and not just pressing the off button, when you feel like. But what can you do if there is a power outage? Shut down your computer when you leave for extensive period of time, and for short power breaks there is UPS protection that is highly recommended, especially if you live in the region, when power outages are frequent. Arrange your cables the way that the risk of accidental removal from power outlets is minimized. For the same reason, follow your instruction on how to disconnect the external hard drives before you remove the USB cable out of the computer.
- As you like stability in your life, the same way the computer like the stable and consistent power supply. If you may experience the power supply fluctuations in your area, connect power stabilizers and surge protectors. If you suspect that your computer power supply is not powerful or not stable enough, replace it immediately with the competitive model. For external drives, some of them come with two USB connectors to your laptop/computer (if the power is taken through USB and not dedicated power supply). Some drives draws more than 0.5Amps of power which the maximium that can be drawn safely from one USB port thus plug in the second USB connector to ensure that the power drawn is sufficient to protect the drive and USB port.
- Handling with care is also very important for your HDD wellbeing. Avoid dropping or hitting your portable devices. If you remove the hard drive from your device or computer, be careful with its handling. Do not move your notebook, when computer is working. After you shut it down, wait for the complete turn off and HDD stop, before you start moving it or packing in your computer bag.
- If you work inside the computer, ground yourself before touching the printed circuit board (PCB) of the drive. You can ground yourself simply by touching the metal back of something that's plugged in, or by using a grounding strap. Better be safe than sorry. Static shock, although it's only a minor pain to people, can completely ruin the electronics of a hard drive, and those electronics let the hard drive interface with the device using it.
- Increase RAM. If your computer use demands high memory utilization, which is very important for some computer applications (such as image processing, modeling and design software), you should increase the memory to reduce the large number of file swapping on the hard disk when read and write, thus extending the life of the hard disk.
- If you connect external hard drive to your computer, it is highly recommended to place it horizontally to the ground. HDD manufacturers are usually offering you dual capabilities to put it horizontally or vertically. While that is not written in your instructions, placing the HDD parallel to the ground is healthier, and might extend you drive lifespan.
- Monitor the health of your hard drive with one of the multiple utilities available on the market. Catching the warning signs early allows to fix the unwanted impact and to foresee the potential issues with your device, allowing to backup important data, before it is lost. Several utilities to choose from are available in the content menu on the right sidebar in the HDD testing section.
- Defragment HDD on a regular basis. Hard drive is reading and writing the data all the time during normal operations. When the disk space becomes highly fragmented and there is a growing amount of scattered data, the hard drive might slow down slightly as there is more complicated to collect all information needed from different sectors. Hard Drive defragmentation will help to put it back in order and optimize its performance. Several utilities to choose from are available in the content menu on the right sidebar in the Defragmenters section.
- Always keep your drivers updated. The latest drivers for your OS or motherboard will reduce conflicts which cause probles of hardware detection and file transfers.
- Run standard maintenance programs on your hard drive. Cleaning unnecessary data and keeping it in a good shape overall may significantly reduce the need of the drive to search for data. Less those moving parts are moving, the better off your drive will be. So, it is recommended to periodically perform ongoing hard drive maintenance with one of the available on the market utilities. There are choices of some descent applications in the content menu on the right sidebar in the Disk Cleaners and Free Combo Packs sections.
- Some specialists recommend limiting the continuous operation of the hard drive and letting it rest. During the day, they advice not to let it work hard for more than 10 hours, and do not work continuously more than 8 hours. After such period, the computer may need to be shut down to let your hard drive rest for a while.
Still, no matter what you do, the best way to avoid essential data losses is keeping fresh updated reserved copy of everything valuable on your hard drive.
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