Chances are your computer has a hard disk drive inside, which is responsible for storing every piece of information on your device. There are lots of advantages to using a hard drive over a solid state drive (SSD); specifically, the cost is much lower, and you’re able to get a high capacity for a fraction of what the same storage would cost on an SSD. The biggest downside, however, is that they are more vulnerable to physical failure.
A hard drive failure can be an extremely challenging problem to face. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can maintain your hard drive and protect yourself from any unexpected downtime later on. Here are our tips on how to protect your hard drive from being damaged and prevent severe data loss.
1. Always verify the authenticity of your downloads
It’s important to be careful when downloading files from the Internet. While most of the time you’ll be just fine, it’s always a good idea to exercise caution, especially when downloading from websites you’re not familiar with, or from e-mails you didn’t sign up for. Sometimes, criminals will use these fake download links to install viruses onto your computer. Even if the download isn’t a virus, some programs install lots of additional, unwanted software alongside the original program. This unwanted content, sometimes called bloatware, will contribute to filling up your hard drive, slowing it, along with your whole computer, down to a crawl.
2. Separate your user files from your operating system
If your user files, that is, the files you create and download on your computer, are placed on the same disk drive as your operating system and there is a significant amount of them, it can lead to excessive strain on the drive. This is because your operating system, a collection of files that need to be regularly accessed in order for the computer to run, needs to be able to run quickly and efficiently. If the massive amount of user file directories are placed in the same drive, the constant reading and writing operations needed to access them can interfere with the operating system processes and putting that all together will potentially slow down your drive’s performance. While not technically an actual failure of your drive, it’ll certainly slow everything down when you need something fast!
In some cases, using a hard drive on a computer without an up-to-date operating system can also lead to a slow or unresponsive computer. Although, again, that will not ultimately lead to hard drive failure, nonetheless it’s best you update the OS regularly in order to achieve optimum performance of your hard drive.
3. Monitor your hard drive
There are a number of applications you can use to keep tabs on the status of your hard drive, and be alerted if there are any problems. One program, Hard Disk Sentinel, is a good idea to run periodically to check in on your hard drive. Other, more advanced applications, can be set to run in the background or automatically run every so often, and send you alerts when there are any potential problems.
4. Ensure your computer has good airflow
One of the biggest enemies of a hard drive is overheating. If the temperature of the drive gets too high, it can not only cause physical damage to the internal components, but also simply corrupt the files on it, leading to a dead drive and possibly a dead computer. Always ensure the computer has good ventilation, and cooling. The vents should always be kept clear of any books or papers, and should be cleared of any dust frequently. If the vents are clear, but the computer and hard drive are still getting too warm, consider adding an extra fan to keep things as cool as possible.
5. Always have a backup plan
The most effective way to ensure that the data on your hard drive is kept safe is to have multiple backups that are always kept to date. We recommend regularly backing the data up to the cloud, as well as to another hard drive or two that are stored in different locations. This way, even if the data on your initial hard drive is completely gone, with no chance of recovery, you’ll have a mostly up to date version still available elsewhere.
6. Protect your hard drive from electric surges
One of the easiest ways to kill a hard drive is through abnormal surges in electricity. We recommend a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) or a surge protector between your computer’s power cord and the wall outlet. This way, no matter what happens with your electrical system, your computer will be protected. If the power source is interrupted by abnormal changes in power supply, you run the risk of physically damaging your hard drive, as well as corrupting any open files and folders.
7. Take care when moving your device
Because of the delicate moving parts inside of a hard disk drive, it’s a lot more sensitive to impact than an SSD. We recommend waiting for the disk itself to stop spinning (you’ll be able to hear it) before moving the device, as well as taking care not to knock over an external drive. Not doing this opens your drive up to the risk of physical damage, and a major headache when you try to access the data on it.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to take care of your hard disk drive, and extend its life for as long as possible. We recommend taking as many of these precautions as possible for any hard drive, particularly if its contents are anything you’re interested in keeping.
However, if you’ve run into a snag with your hard drive, and are faced with potentially lost data, don’t wait. The sooner you can get an expert to work on recovering data from a malfunctioned hard drive, the more likely a successful recovery. If you need some help retrieving what’s been lost, call TeraDrive today!
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