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How to Keep Your Hard Drive Healthy

Updated on November 20, 2012
Keep your hard drive healthy
Keep your hard drive healthy | Source
Turbo Windows® - The Ultimate PC Speed Up Guide
Turbo Windows® - The Ultimate PC Speed Up Guide

Turbo Windows is a book that will help you keep your computer in top condition and speed it up a great deal.


Software to help you prolong the life of your hard drive


Diskeeper is an advanced hard drive maintenance program that will make sure your hard drive stays healthy and defragmented.


Healthy hard drive = fast PC

In many ways, computers are like cars - both need regular maintenance to keep running at top speed. Just like with cars, some computer parts need more care than others. The hard drive is by far the slowest and the most vulnerable computer part. This is because it's one of the few mechanical parts that suffers from wear and tear. That's why it needs extra care and specific maintenance.

How does a hard drive work

Unlike RAM and CPU, which are electronic, the hard drive has a mechanical arm that moves the read/write heads all over the drive. That's how the hard drive saves and opens your files. Naturally, the more the arm has to move, the more wear and tear there is. In addition to that, your hard drive can suffer from physical damage. That's why you should always take extra care when carrying your laptop and make sure it has a shock resistant hard drive.

The two most common hard drive problems are bad sectors and fragmentation. If you hard drive suffers from both, your computer can become really slow and you risk losing some of your data.

How to fix bad sectors

Bad sectors are little bits of hard drive space that are damaged in either physical or logical way. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about the physical bad sectors, but it's possible to try to fix logical errors and recover data from bad sectors.

Windows has a built-in tool that will help you find bad sectors and attempt to recover them. This tool is called Check Disk (CHKDSK). If your hard drive keeps thrashing and churning, and it takes ages to open files, you should run CHKDSK and let it fix logical errors. In addition to that, the tool will mark bad sectors as damaged, so that no new data is ever save to them.

Running CHKDSK is easy:

  1. Open (My) Computer and right-click on your system drive (usually C:)
  2. Go to Properties and then navigate to the Tools tab
  3. Click on the Check Now button under Error checking
  4. Check both checkboxes in the pop-up window that appears. Otherwise the tool will analyse your drive without fixing anything.
  5. Reboot your computer and wait for the tool to do its job. Usually it takes about 40 minutes to complete.

Ideally, you should run CHKDSK once in every two months to prevent hard drive deterioration. If you start getting too many bad sectors, then it's best to back up all your data and get a new hard drive

How to defragment your hard drive

Fragmentation is another main hard drive deterioration factor. It occurs because Windows tends to split files when it saves them and puts the little file fragments into bits of available free space. As a result, the hard drive's arm has to move a lot to assemble all the pieces together and open the file. In addition to that, the free space on your drive gets fragmented every time you delete a file or uninstall a program. The more fragmented your drive is, the longer Windows needs to open files and launch programs. That's why you need to defragment your hard drive on a regular basis.

Windows has its own Disk Defragmenter (found under Start - Programs - Accessories - System Tools), but it's not as good as some free third-party alternatives because it can't defragment free space and doesn't improve file placement. A good alternative to the tool is Auslogics Disk Defrag. It's free and its features match the features offered in paid disk defrag programs. For example, it can move system files to the fastest tracks of your hard drive and thus speed up Windows startup.

Most users don't need to run defragmentation more often than once a month. However, if you like installing new software and save a lot of files, you might need to defrag your PC weekly.

Remember to run disk cleanup, CHKDSK and defragmentation on a regular basis to keep your hard drive healthy and your PC fast.

© 2011 Snurre


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    • Viss profile image

      Vishal Chaudhary 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Not many people know that Macs can be defraged too with the help of suitable software. One such tool is Stellar Drive Defrag that optimises the hard drive spaces. It defrags the drive with 4 powerful algorithms.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      @sepiroth - thanks! Yes, you are right. At least 15% of your hard drive should be free of any data.

      @mkrandhawa - thank you!

    • mkrandhawa profile image

      mkrandhawa 6 years ago from India

      very informative hub thanks for sharing.

    • sepiroth profile image

      sepiroth 6 years ago from Bohol

      Nice advice, also don't get used to much on your hardrive, more free space gives a little breathe to your hard drive...


    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      @ Reynold Jay

      Or rather the WOMAN lol Thanks mate! Glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 6 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Good advice and I do this all the time. Still your fan as I don't want to miss all this good stuff. You are the MAN!

      Based upon this HUB, you might enjoy…

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      @Writer David

      This advice is for both all Windows versions. Yes, it's true that 7 and Visa have disk defrag scheduled, but a) I wouldn't recommend using the Vista defrag b) some people tend to disable these scheduled tasks and never bother running them manually.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Writer David profile image

      Writer David 6 years ago from Mobile, AL


      Is this advice for Windows XP? I ask because Windows 7 (at least on my HP) comes with all this automated on a monthly basis right out of the box.

    • Snurre profile image

      Snurre 6 years ago

      Thanks, Brett! Yes, you're right - Mac and Linux don't really need to be defragged. Linux filesystem is a lot more efficient than the Windows one. Although it wouldn't hurt to defrag a Mac from time to time.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      Good straight forward advice for Windows users. Most Mac's and Linux do this automatically, but for Windows it is important to defrag and disk check often to avoid problems, corruption and bad sectors affecting your important files!

      Voted up and useful.