How Healthy is your Hard Disk

Hard disk health is one of the most serious issues to affect computer users. In most cases all the data on your computer is stored on a mechanical hard disk drive. These disk drives comprise of a spinning metal disk that magnetically stores your data and a “head” which glides nanometres above the surface of the disk to read the data. Issues arise with these disks as mechanical components begin to wear and also movement of the computer when the hard disk is on can cause the head to crash into the surface of the disk, causing irreparable damage. Seagate_NL35_400GB_SATA150 How does this happen?

Damage to hard disks builds up over time, often damaging unused areas of the hard disk. This means your hard disk could be faulty and data on your computer that has not been used for a while may not be readable. In extreme cases the hard drive can completely fail resulting in the loss of all data.

What can be done?

If caught early enough, the data from a faulty hard disk can be transferred to a new hard disk with minimal loss of data. The key to a successful data transfer is early diagnosis. The early signs of a faulty hard disk can be easily detected allowing for the hard disk to be replaced with no data loss.

Is my hard disk faulty?

In our workshop we check the health of clients hard disk irrespective of what service is being carried out. For instance, this is to avoid charging a client to remove viruses on computer that also has an unnoticed faulty hard disk. This allows us to rectify both issues at the same time, which avoids the client having to return a short time later for a second repair to a faulty hard disk. In some cases the identification of a faulty hard disk will save the client spending too much money on an older computer, maybe the client was prepared to spend $50 on a clean-up, but when a faulty hard disk is detected the computer may be deemed beyond economical repair.

So that’s what we do to protect our clients from data loss due to faulty hard disks, but what can you do?

Slowness, freezing and crashing are all symptoms of a faulty hard disk, but there are also some great pieces of software available that you can easily install and run on your computer that will automatically notify you of the first instance of hard disk failure, dramatically reducing your chances of data loss when the hard disk is replaced.

Acronis Drive Monitor is a free piece of software that will keep you constantly updated with the health of your hard disk. You can download your FREE copy here

For the non-tech savvy, Watson Computers are now offering FREE hard disk health checks.

What can I do to keep my hard disk healthy?

Here are some pointers to keep your hard disk healthy:

  • Always shut your computer down correctly, do not hold down power buttons or just switch off at the wall
  • As portable as laptops are, try not to move your laptop around when it is on
  • Probably the number one cause of faulty hard disks is people closing the lid of their laptop then tossing it into a laptop bag. When you close the lid of a laptop it frantically tries to save information and go to sleep. This generates huge amounts of hard disk activity at the exact time the laptop is being dropped into a bag, causing vital pieces of data on the hard disk to be damaged.
  • Replacing old mechanical drives with new solid state drives ( with no moving parts ) dramatically improves the performance and reduces chances of data loss.

More on the awesomeness of solid state drives next week………..