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The Life and Death of Hard Drives

The hard drive of your computer is the storage tank for all of your programs and important data.  When the computer is off, the data and programs are stored on the disc of your hard drive.  When you start your computer, your computer will pull the necessary information off the hard drive and manipulate it so that you can do whatever you do on the computer.   It is important that the hard drive is working properly so that you can run your programs properly, and add, remove, or manipulate the data that you have.

Hard drives have a life.   The disc on your hard drive can spin between 5400 and 7200 RPM.  The disc is mounted on bearings that are very tiny, and the arm that reads the data off the drive is so close to the disc that a speck of dust would not fit between them.  They are fragile devices:  Change the name of the hard drive to “egg shell” and you will begin to understand how fragile they are.

So how long should they last?  It really depends on several factors, including how you treat your computer.   If you have a laptop, and bang it around, shake it, and abuse it, the life of your hard drive will be very short.  Whenever a person brings in a laptop for a cracked screen, before we order the screen we will test the hard drive to make sure it is working properly.  Whatever hit the screen hard enough to break it probably did hard drive damage as well.   A computer that is treated properly should last at least 4-5 years, but we have seen them die in a considerably shorter or longer time.   However, once you get past 3 years, you should anticipate that the hard drive could die at any time, and protect your data accordingly.

Symptoms of a hard drive that is starting to die are many.   Your computer may begin running very slow, it may begin freezing, or you may not be able to open programs or files.  Some of these symptoms are the same as a virus, so it is difficult to tell without performing a computer diagnostic.

So if you begin seeing these symptoms, it is important to get your computer to a store that will analyze what is happening.  More importantly, as always, periodic backup of your data will certainly prevent the heartache that a bad hard drive might cause.

What is your worst hard drive failure nightmare?  Did you lose your data?  What did you do?

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Lee Thompson February 5, 2016

    Thank you for the helpful information.
    Cheers, Lee Thompson

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