Is your precious data is at risk?
Everything from your photos and documents through to emails and the operating itself are subject to loss should your hard drive fail.
It won’t surprise you that for many such a situation can be catastrophic. Ask yourself how important is all that stuff on your computer and how would you feel if suddenly it was gone.
Whether it be personal or business use we all accumulate a great deal on computers, much of which may be irreplaceable – so (if you haven’t already) make sure you have all your important stuff backed up. Any kind of disaster recovery can be so much easier if you have your important stuff saved someplace else. Whilst data can sometimes be recovered from a failed drive, it can be a very, very expensive procedure and best realise that a failed drive can result in permanent loss of data. This info applies to external USB drives too.
This is where your data is stored - all you photos, documents etc and the operating system is saved to the hard drive (do not confuse with memory/RAM).
Typically hard drives come in two types: a traditional mechanical hard drive with disc platters and an actuator arm inside (reminiscent of record player and good old vinyl) and the more recent SSD – solid state drive – more circuit board (think of a large USB flash drive/memory stick). Obviously any kind of equipment can be damaged by misuse or neglect and devices with such precision will never take kindly to shock – don’t drop your hard drives! However with avoidable damage aside, hard drives are subject to ‘wear and tear’ and are considered to have a ‘useful life’. Manufacturers may state this useful life expectancy but really this should only ever be considered a guide – after all we use computers differently and so there will always be many factors that affects the life of a hard drive.
Should you care? Should you change your drive?
Yes you should care – you know the consequences of failure - but should you replace a hard drive (especially when all is working) is harder to answer. It is much quicker and easier to replace a working hard drive ‘as is’ to maintain your system data and setup than it is to replace a failed drive and then have to try and restore everything ‘as was’, so replacement can often be a wise move. Unfortunately even new drives can fail, whilst others can operate for several years. Some studies have shown drive failure rates higher during the first 12 months or after 3 years. Interestingly manufacturers offer different warranties for different types and this may provide a clue as to how long they expect them to last. So perhaps the best advice when looking at replacing a drive is to get the longest warranty possible and hope that you never have to use it – after all, downtime, disruption, loss of data and any additional labour costs won’t be covered.
Is my hard drive about to fail?
In all honesty, who knows? Many factors can shorten the lifespan of a drive everything from temperature to times powered on/off, actual usage, random mechanical failures or just old age and getting worn out. Whist they can just suddenly fail, more often than not you may have hints as to something isn’t quite right. Any kind of internal clicking/whirring sound from inside you system could be the sounds of pending doom as could be random system crashes, freezes, slow-downs, corruption/lost data.
Conclusion. Backup, backup.
Being prepared for failure is really the best answer for computer failures all round and not just hard drives. Perhaps consider the useful life of a drive in terms of warranty and maybe you should be asking yourself are you storing data on borrowed time?
Having your data backed up is one thing, but what about all the email, programs, printers etc you have installed. Your system is probably setup just the way you like it and perhaps the idea of ‘starting again’ is not something you’d relish – so maybe the idea of replacing a working drive is not such a mad idea? …………