Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to Take Care of Your Hard Drive to Prevent a Crash

They are also not immortal ? in fact ? a hard drive has a life span of only three to five years. We should always bear in mind that the drive may crash for no fault of ours, and we want our data to remain intact. Maintenance is important because that way we prolong the life span of the drive, and of the data in it. The whole effort is to prevent a crash from happening at all.

Below are some guidelines to help in the maintenance of hard drives. However, it should be underlined that even if you follow all of them stringently, backups are still important.

Do not take out the disk itself from its protective casing, even if your hands are exceptionally clean. Even a little unseen speck of dust can fatally scratch your drive. The surface of the disk is extremely delicate and cannot stand high temperature, direct sunlight, dust, moisture or rough handling.

Make sure that there is enough ventilation inside the CPU. A modern drive working at high speed can raise its temperature up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature rises beyond the melting point of iron, then the metal will just soften, and your data will literally vaporize from it. All CPUs now have built in fans and cooling systems, but it is important to arrange the wiring and placement of cards etc. in such a way that the space does not become too cramped in there. It is advisable to keep the machine in a room with controlled temperature.
Moisture is a killer for the hard disk.

Avoid moving your computer around too much if it is a desktop. A dropped computer can be bad for the data, and this happens often with laptops. If the shock level is beyond the absorption power, or the vertical component of the drop is higher than the speed at which the disk is rotating, the disk will be permanently damaged. This is true after keeping in mind that modern disks are much more robust.

Do not touch the pins under the drive if you have to take it out for some reason. Be very careful about wiring and putting in cards. A wrong plug in will blow the circuitry of the drive. Precaution needs to be taken against electrostatic discharge and strong magnetic fields. Do not plug in the room cleaner, heater and computer from the same plug in strip. If you take out the hard drive or are plugging in cards into it, keep touching an unpainted surface like the chassis of the computer to ensure that electrostatic discharges are not conveyed through you, and you do not end up electrocuting your own drive.

Keep the computer away from open doors and windows. If the drive is to be transported somewhere, try to move it round in the same packaging in which it came. Always carry a hard drive in a shock-proof and electrostatic shock-protected bag. If there is a severe hardware problem, or if there has been a disaster, do not take out the drive. The data recovery experts would know how to handle it best. If the computer has been burned, do not use water on it. Ship the entire CPU, with the disk sealed with heat inside it to the recovery firm. It is important to keep your data updated. It is also important to defrag your machine at regular intervals. The file endings will be hopelessly scattered and muddled if you do not do so, corrupting the data.

Make sure all hardware you are plugging in are compatible with your computer. Installing an anti-virus is not enough. Keep updating it regularly. Install a firewall and ensure that it is the latest version, and actually working.

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