Hard drives are everywhere, in your computer, your iPod, and the DVR on top of your TV. They’re the best combination of “fast” and “inexpensive” that the data storage industry can come up with (at least for now). The problem is that they’re not 100% reliable. Hey, nothing with moving parts is. All hard drives will eventually fail, regardless of hard drive brand, capacity, or operating environment.
There are quite a few things you can do, however, to help extend the operating live of your hard drive. Here are a few examples.
1. Keep the drive in a stable, decent environment. Follow the instructions that came with your hard drive. Keep it at a room temperature, make sure that the computer (or other device) has adequate ventilation (it’s a bad idea to keep your computer in an enclosed cabinet, or to leave your iPod in a car, for instance), make sure the room and the computer’s platform aren’t subject to excessive vibration, never stick magnets to the side of your computer, and keep your computer on a surge protector. Most hard drives that fail prematurely do so because one or more of these common sense maintenance issues weren’t addressed, so be aware of the environment that you’re putting your hard drive into and take any necessary steps to be more careful.
2. Be careful when handling your hard drive. If you remove the hard drive from your device or computer, you’ve got to be careful when handling it. Ground yourself before touching the printed circuit board (PCB) of the drive. You can ground yourself simply by touching the metal back of something that’s plugged in, or by using a grounding strap. Grounding straps are available fairly inexpensively online.
Static shock, although it’s only a minor pain to people, can completely ruin the electronics of a hard drive, and those electronics let the hard drive interface with the device using it–in other words, you don’t want to do that. Sudden physical jolts can cause permanent damage, as well.
3. Run standard maintenance programs on your hard drive. Checkdisk (or scan disk) and disk defragmenter will help your hard drive run at its optimal capacity by reducing the need of the drive to search for data. The less those moving parts are moving, the better off your drive will be, and you may greatly extend the life of your hard drive by simply running these programs once a week. They can even be set up to run automatically. While you’re at it, be sure to back up your data–as I’d noted, no matter how long your hard drive’s life is, it will eventually fail, so be prepared!
Do you have tips for extending the life of a hard drive? Post them in our comments section below.