the life of your hard drive Printer
If I asked
you the question: which part of your computer is the most fragile,
what would you say? What if I asked: which part is most important
Often, the answer to both of these questions is your Hard Drive.
Your hard drive is likely one the most important things you own.
It contains work data, school data, emails, photos, music, movies,
tax information, etc… Incidentally, the hard drive is also
one of only two moving components in your computer (the other being
your optical drive). The following is a list of important maintenance
and monitoring techniques you can use to maximize the life of your
hard drive and prevent data loss.
drives are physically fragile – handle with care
show that 25% of lost data is due to a failure of a portable drive.
(Source: 2001 Cost of Downtime Survey Results)
Contrary to its seemingly rugged appearance, your hard disk is a
very delicate device that writes and reads data using microscopic
magnetic particles. Any vibration, shock, and other careless operation
may damage your drive and cause or contribute to the possibility
of a failure. This is especially relevant for notebook users, as
they are most at risk of drive failure due to physical damage, theft,
and other causes beyond their control. That’s why we recommend
regular backup of notebook hard drives, as often as possible.
Possible solutions include external USB or Firewire drives (although
these are prone to the same risks), desktop synchronization, or
backup at a data center through the web.
drives write data in a non-linear way forcing it to become fragmented.
When files accumulate on your hard drive, they do not just get written
in a linear fashion. A hard drive writes files in small pieces and
scatters them over the surface. The fuller your hard drive becomes
and the more files you save and delete the worse file fragmentation
can be. Hard drive access times increase with fragmentation since
your drive must work harder to find all the pieces of the files.
The more fragmented your data is, the harder the actuator arm has
to work to find each piece of a file.
A case in point: Disk fragmentation is a common problem for users
of Outlook Express and database software. Each time outlook saves
new mail, it does so in a different physical location from the previous
time. This results in extreme fragmentation, causing longer access
times and forcing more strain on the actuator arm.
Finally, in the event of a total crash, a fragmented drive is much
more difficult to recover then a healthy defragged drive.
Luckily, Windows makes it remarkably easy to defrag your hard drive,
simply launch the Disk Defragmenter utility (Start >
Programs > Accessories > System Tools), choose which
disk or partition you’d like to defragment and set it to work
overnight or while you are not actively using your computer. Defragmentation
will speed up your computer and ensure a longer life for your hard
small power surge can fry a hard drive – use a UPS and turn
off your computer
Another little-known fact about the fragility of your hard drive
is its susceptibility to electrical failure. An electrical failure
can be caused by a power surge, lightening strikes, power brown-outs,
incorrect wiring, a faulty or old power supply, and many other factors.
If a power surge enters your computer, it may do an unpredictable
amount of damage, including destroying your hard drive’s electronics
or crashing the heads and possibly resulting in total data loss.
The best way to protect your computer from such dangers is to use
a highly rated protected power bar or an Uninterruptible Power Supply
(UPS). Although these devices won’t eliminate the chances
of a crash, they will serve as effective protection in most cases.
Also, you can minimize the danger of an electrical problem and reduce
wear of your hard drive by turning off your computer or using power-save
modes whenever possible. It’s a known fact that 100% of drives
fail, the question is when will it happen and will you be prepared?
*Make sure to come back soon or sign up for our Newsletter
to check out the upcoming article discussing power options and a
more detailed explanation of how power affects your drive*
SMART, monitor the health of your drive to prevent unexpected crashes
All modern hard drives have a self-monitoring technology called
SMART (Self Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology). What
most people don’t realize is that the majority of hard drive
failures do not have to be unexpected. Most failures occur as a
result of long-term problems which can be predicted. By regularly
monitoring disk health and performance, you can know about potential
hard drive problems before you lose any of your data.
Several excellent utilities are available, including DiskView and
Stellar SMART for standard IDE and SATA desktop drives. Also available
are tools that monitor the health of SCSI drives and full RAID Array
systems. Ariolic Software offers a great utility called ActiveSMART.
*Come back soon or sign up for our Newsletter to check out the upcoming
article in which we will review tones of great software, including
the above titles!*
only fool-proof way to prevent data loss is... Backup!
If you only take one of the suggestions here to heart, let it be
this one: always back up your important data. After all the monitoring
and all the prevention measures are in place, one fact still remains:
all hard drives fail. Backing up regularly will ensure that you’re
never caught without your critical data. For individuals, the simplest
solutions include external portable hard drives, dvd’s, and
online storage. For businesses, we recommend renting space at a
secure data centre and implementing a disaster recovery plan, regardless
of the size of your business.
*Come back soon or sign up for our Newsletter
to check out upcoming articles in which we'll review tonnes of great
software, including the above titles and many more!*
Accurate Data Recovery