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How to Prevent Hard Disk Drive Failure

Updated on September 03, 2011

Disaster ! ! !

Hard Disk Disaster

Imagine that you woke up tomorrow morning, powered up your computer and discovered that your hard disk drive was kaput, all of your work, all of your pictures, all of your music everything lost, never again to see the light of day.

Hard Disk Drives are very delicate pieces of hardware and they can develop faults very easily, from a simple corrupt file to a complete hard disk failure.

What can you do when your Hard Disk develops a fault and how can you recover from a system failure.

They say Prevention is better than cure and in the case of your hard drive this is a good rule to follow.

Prevention is better than cure !

Prevent Disk Faults

There are a few simple things that you can do to reduce the chances of a disk fault occurring,

Never move your computer when it is switched on and try not to knock it.

Don't place your computer near to or next to a heat source because it can cause over-heating.

Hot and Cold if for some reason you have left your laptop in the trunk of your car overnight and then bring it in to your home or office, do not power it up right away, give it at least thirty minutes to get up to room temperature.

Shut Down If you take a break from your computer for half an hour, it is better to leave it switched on, but if you are not going to use your computer for several hours then it is ok to shut it down.

Shutting down your computer properly is important, as a sudden shutdown can corrupt the data stored on the disk.

Fix Your Files

Fix Your Filing System

A lot of computer problems are related to the filing system, the way in which software, such as Windows, stores information on your Hard Disk.

The opeating system must find a free area on the surface of your hard disk to store a file, check that it is written correctly, note where it is on the disk and ensure that nothing else can use that space.

During this process, sometimes things go wrong and a file can be lost or corrupted, otherwise known as a disk fault, when this occurs there is no reason to panic, recreating the filing system by reformatting or repairing it will usually solve the problem.

S.M.A.R.T

S.M.A.R.T

S.M.A.R.T (Self monitoring analysis and reporting technology) is incorporated into all new hard disks and aims to alert you to impending problems before they happen, this means that you can take the appropriate action before the disk stops working and all of your data is lost.

Although it wont warn you when the filing system has gone wrong, it will report problems such as the number of times it has tried to spin the disk up to the correct speed and the numbers of errors it encountered when reading the disk, there are many free utilities that allow you to read a disks smart information. Panterasoft is one of the better sites which gives you the information you need in plain English.

Data Recovery

Physical Faults

Fire, Flood and other outside factors can physically damage your hard drive, although these faults cannot be fixed it is not always a disaster, It can be possible to recover the data on the damaged disk, but this is a job for the professionals, there are several companies who specialise in recovering data in such circumstances, It is surprising how much data these companies can recover.

It comes at a price though but if it is your lifes work or the only photographs of your wedding that price would be well worth paying

Delete Bad Files

Not all faults are serious and a computer can run perfectly well with a few small errors in the filing system, for example one of your pictures might not display on your screen becaause it is corrupt, this isn't a fatal error and it probably won't affect anything else on your computer.

A corrupt photo,music or even text file can simply be deleted, removing bad files and leaving the good ones will repair the filing system.

Command Prompt

Windows Tools

Windows has some useful tools built into it that help you to recover from disk disasters.

CHKDSK/F

To check that your hard disk is ok, hold down the windows and "R" keys on your keyboard, type in cmd and press enter to open a command prompt window then type in chkdsk, this checks for errors but doesn't fix them but if you type in Chkdsk/f it will fix any errors that it finds during the scan.

Test Your Backups

We all know the importance of Backing up your data to a removable disk, but you should also test your backups, being sure that you can actually read the files back again, you don't want to be halfway through restoring your files and discover that your backup disk has a fault

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    • profile image

      John McLaughlin 8 years ago

      Hi Jimmy,

      Your cranking another out - nice.

      Couple thoughts:

      1. The install of a 2nd hard drive with software dedigned to mirror the primary hard drive is one of the best tools.

      2. Also - the above could replace the reformat step - reformat is a time and datta killer, as you know.

      Keep em coming,

      John McLaughlin, Day Traders - Consultant / Coach

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Very helpful information. We pulled one of our harddrives to pieces and its beaut to see how shiny they are. The magnets inside are incredibly strong also.

      I go to the tools on the drive and do complete checks through there. it helps once a fortnight. And of course save to cd. Then again my cd's have let me down as updated programs and some wont read the disks. Greeat hub

    • Gadzooks profile image

      Gadzooks 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Jimmy, very helpful post, I do not have proper backups, I have files splattered all over cd roms, flash disks, a small external pocket drive etc... for a long time I have been meaning to get a second drive to set up some kind of automated backups... but have still not done so!

      Having read this I think Ill get something sorted out... external drives are so cheap now there is no excuse really...

    • prems4u profile image

      prems4u 8 years ago from KERALA Cochin

      nice information thanks...

      try external hard disk which saves time nd money

    • Peter M. Lopez profile image

      Peter M. Lopez 8 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      Very useful info, Jimmy. Thanks.

    • dizongroup profile image

      dizongroup 8 years ago from Pacific Northwest near Mr. Rainier

      good tips, thank you

    • profile image

      tekfix 7 years ago

      great simple tips. Great job! If you've got multiple harddrives, give a RAID setup a go too. It works really well as a redundant drive in case the other fails.

    • profile image

      acer laptop 7 years ago

      Great Hub you have here :) Please check out my website would love to network!

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 6 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      Your tips are awesome. I like top add few points in it. make partition in your hard disc. It will allocate proper space to hard drive. Another is take incremental backup of your system so that you always have updated status of your data.

    • Tom T profile image

      Tom T 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks for the tips. I just lost my backup disk. Kind of a bummer but at least it was just the backup.

    • profile image

      C.Alwarappan 4 years ago

      very useful tips

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      I needed to know this! Thank you so much for this hub!

      I hope you are having a happy birthday (1 May 2012)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      When my hard disk crashed couple of months ago, I did not know whom to ask.

      Now that I have read this, I will be able to prevent hard disk failure.

    • profile image

      Wholesale Cotton Bags 4 years ago

      Nice post! I liked the way you get to the point - which is always useful. Most blogs are a bit too verbose for me, this one fits nicely. Cheers!

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