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Hard Drive Health: What Damages Hard Drives?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals
 
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In the previous articles in this series, we discussed how the humble hard drive is generally neglected when it comes to monitoring PC health, how they work, and how much damage can be done when your hard drive dies. But the question still remains; how does a hard drive die, anyway?

Like many machines with moving parts, sometimes a hard drive will simply die from usage. But what about the other ways it can die – the more preventable ones?

internal-hard-drive

Here’s a few ways that hard drives can suffer damage:

Movement

Given that a hard drive has an arm hovering above a spinning disk that can be running anywhere above five-thousand rotations a minute, you can easily imagine that having things touch or slam on the disk can cause some major damage. Moving the hard drive while it’s in operation runs the risk of the read-write arm hitting against the platter, which can cause damage. Damage on the platter can mean that a whole section can be rendered unusable, which will mean the loss and corruption of a lot of data, if not the hard drive.

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In order to keep your hard drive healthy,  move your PC, laptop, or external hard drive cautiously while the power is on. For laptops, this rings especially true for actions such as throwing or dropping the system somewhere. A lot of technology has gone into preventing the arm from slamming into the disk due to movement, such as accelerometers that try to detect if the system is in freefall and adjusts the arm accordingly, but it’s best to do your part to not tempt fate.

Magnets

The arm on the hard drive is designed so that it can change the magnetism of areas on the platter of the hard drive. This creates a complex series of magnetized and demagnetized sections on your hard drive that translates into binary – the language all computers talk. Therefore, if you get a magnet close or on the hard drive itself, the magnetic fields from your magnet can disrupt the carefully-arranged areas on your hard drive platter and corrupt the data on it.

Keep magnets away from the hard drive to ensure that the neatly-arranged magnetized sectors are kept the way they should be. Many a hard drive have seen some nasty data losses because the person wanted to screw something into their PC, and opted to use a screwdriver with a magnetized head. Don’t let this be you!

We’ve covered two culprits, but there are still more things waiting to hurt your hard drive. We’ll check those out in part 2 of this article tomorrow.

~ Simon

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One Response to “Hard Drive Health: What Damages Hard Drives?”

  1. […] In part 1 of this article, we looked at two things that can damage your hard drive: Sudden movement and magnets. But your drive is vulnerable to other things as well. Today we’ll look at two other things that can hasten the death of your drive. […]

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