Eventually, every single hard drive at your company will fail. No hard drive is meant to last forever. The longest likely lifespan for a hard drive is 5 years…and that’s a generous estimate. It’s more likely that your hard drive will fail much sooner. However, there are ways you can take care of your hard drive to extend its life.
But first, we must note the importance of backing up date. This is critical for businesses of any shape and size, especially those that store data that would take days or weeks to replicate if lost…or businesses that store data that can’t be replicated at all. For example, say you are graphic design firm and you ignore the importance of backing up data. Suddenly, your employee’s hard drive fails (because it will at some point). That data is no where else to be found and now your employee must spend weeks replicating the work he already did. The fallout from data loss can be massive: angry clients who need their work done, wasted time, wasted money, and loss of customer trust.
For backup, we recommend a tri-fold approach that stores data in three places: on the hard drive of the computer, on an external local backup, and on an offsite backup. The offsite backup is crucial because if your business location suffers from a flood, fire, or other natural disaster, all of your data is gone if it is only stored on site. For offsite backup, the only thing we recommend is Carbonite, a cloud backup solution that continually backs up data so you don’t even have to think about it.
Back to the main point of this blog, let’s talk about how you can increase the longevity of your hard drive and save some time and money in the process.
Handle with care
Hard drives consist of a glass plate, a spinning head, and a read & write head. When your device is turned on, the hard drive is always spinning and when you are writing to the hard drive, the read and write head is moving back and forth. Whether it’s a laptop, desktop computer, or external drive you can’t shake it around, drop it on the floor, and move it a lot. You could reduce its lifespan or break it all together. With desktops and external drives, never move them when the hard drive is spinning (when the computer is on). If you must move them, make sure the device is powered down completely. Laptops are made to be a little more rugged but you should still avoid moving them when the hard drive is reading and writing. Put the laptop to sleep when you move it to get the maximum lifespan out of your drive.
Control the temperature
One of the biggest causes of early hard drive failure is overheating. The heat that a computer puts off causes the header and plate to expand and possibly collide, rendering the hard drive useless. It was found that the best temperature for a hard drive is 30-40 degrees Celsius, according to How To Geek. If your hard drive is running hot, you can use special fans to cool it down..
Defragment your drive
Fragmentation happens when your hard drive starts to fill up and stick data anywhere that it can find space. It is a lot of work for the hard drive to then search for that data. This hard work reduces the overall lifespan of your drive. Defragmenting helps reduce the amount of time that your read and write head looks for data. Give your hard drive a break by defragmenting it.
Shut it down
Though it has never been proven that shutting down your device is good for your hard drive, it can’t hurt to shut it down at least at night. If you are running a business and you have many computers, this will save you a lot of money on energy bills. If you are not going to use a device for many hours, it is best to shut it down completely. If you use your device on and off throughout the day, it is best to leave the computer on. This is because hard drives use the most power when they are running and when they are powering up.
Use a solid state drive
If you can’t get past the hard drive limitations, you should consider using a solid state drive instead. Solid state drives don’t have moving parts and therefore are much more durable, shock resistant, and they run cool. What’s the catch? They are expensive and you get a lot less storage for your dollar. However, if your company can afford it, it is a wise investment to move data over to solid state drives.
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