How to avoid hard drive failure – A simple solution.

I’m going to share a short story in a moment. But before that, I want to make clear that this simple solution is about mindset. It isn’t about tweaking some setting on your computer. This is a non technical solution which is something I live by. The reason I’m writing this is so that hopefully you will not experience a hard drive failure like I had recently. Keep in mind though that the safest mindset is to believe that all hard drives are going to fail. Backing up is the only logical solution, but I feel you should able to prolong the life of your hard drive by not overworking it.

So my story goes like this. I had a 2TB hard drive for my main PC. I have another PC networked, which I’ve often sent backups to. Well, one day I decided to send over a massive backup of files. It’s likely the biggest backup I’ve ever done. You can never be too safe I always say, and regardless of having Norton Online Storage, I like to have as many backups as possible. The backup went well. However, shortly thereafter I had a pop up from Windows, indicating that my copy of Windows 7 wasn’t authentic. Trust me, I’ve been using a legit copy for at least a year and this pop up was annoying. I went as far as reinstalling Windows 7 in an effort to deal with this issue. I did rid myself of that authentication issue, however, a short time late, my hard drive died. It died in a very devastating and robust way. It was dead dead dead. And yes, I’ve had hard drives die before!

Okay, so looking back on the series of events, here is my understanding on what happened. In an effort to make a massive backup, all I really did was overwork and overheat my hard drive by moving massive amounts of data. The authentication error in Windows 7 to me, was an indicator of imminent failure. I just didn’t realize it at the time. Bad sectors can certainly mess with a copy of Windows and I feel that is what happened in my situation. It’s ironic isn’t it? In an effort to be safe by backing up, I in turn fried my hard drive!

So let’s talk about the so called “simple solution”. One thing is quite clear. Hard drives fail because of heat. The hotter it gets, the closer you are getting to failure. It’s like anything mechanical. If you run your car engine in the “red”, you might eventually cause damage to your car. If you run a marathon, you get hot and exhausted. A hard drive works on the same basic principle.

Now consider hard drives of today vs. from a few years ago. We now get Terabytes, like 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and beyond. That’s a LOT of potential data! A few years ago, we might have moved around 500GB and that would be considered a massive amount of data. I would argue that the hard drive components in the hard drives hasn’t changed much, but the capacity has. So in other words, if you are ignorant to heat like I was, then you might not consider that you are in fact “red lining” your hard drive by moving say, 1TB of data in one go. Even moving 500GB is questionable. The fact is, the larger the transfer, the great the workload on those moving parts, and thus the great heat created within that hard drive.

I have a basic rule now. I don’t transfer large amounts of data in one go. I will do gradual transfers, over a period of time. In a sense, I’m going to baby my hard drives because to me, they can talk the talk but they can’t walk the walk. They can hold all that data, but if you want to move that data in one transfer, that hard drive is going to be gasping for air and getting hot in the process.

I hope this helps. It’s just a mindset.

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