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April 3, 2009

How Does Your Hard Drive Die?

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Let me count the ways your hard drive can die. Well, not maybe all the ways, but according to research sponsored by DriveSavers, a data recovery service, here are the top five ways a hard drive bytes, er bites the dust.

The hard drive is the primary storage device for nearly all computers. I predict that someday (soon), solid state drives (SSDs) will replace hard drives as a more reliable and faster form of storage. Until then, we store important information on our computer’s hard drives. That means hard drive maintenance and upkeep is an important part of running any computer system.

Obviously there are many people who don’t bother much with hard drive maintenance. Heck, they don’t even backup. That’s why a company like DriveSavers can thrive. In fact, according to their site, they pull a lot of information from hard drives that most disk doctors would declare DOA.

Of course, I don’t worry about my computers’ disks dying because I’m a backup fiend. You should be, as well. If not, then here are the things that can kill your hard drive, according to a white paper study done by DriveSavers:

#1. 80 percent of hard drives die due to hardware failure, including electrical failure, head crash, media failure, or controller problems. In other words, the hard drive probably just dies. I don’t have a copy of the report (though supposedly it’s coming), but I’d be interested in find out the average age of hard drives that die this type of natural death.

#2. 10 percent of hard drives bite the electronic dust thanks to software corruption. This category includes problems from improper software configuration, damage caused by diagnostic or repair tools, and (scary for me) failed backups.

#3. 5 percent of hard drive failures are due to the good old standby, human error. Yes, people do accidentally delete files or entire swaths of folders and files from the operating system. They reformat drives. Also included in this category are people who drop a drive by accident or somehow damage the drive in a traumatic way.

#4. Natural Disasters account for 3 percent of hard drive failures. That number seems about right. Hard drives can be lost due to fires, floods, power surges, brownouts, and other Acts Of God. I lost a hard drive once due to a momentary earthquake. Strange, but true.

#5. Rounding up the total are those 2 precent of hard drives that end their life because of a computer virus or other malware. Infected files, boot sectors, and other nasties on the hard drive can eat up and erase data in a most malicious manner.

Data recover is possible, but it’s also very expensive. What’s cheaper, and what I recommend, is backup! My books drone on and on about the topic.

By the way, if you do bother to click the DriveSavers link (and I’m assuming that you didn’t), be sure to check out their Museum of Bizarre Disk Disk-asters. Pretty cool, in the way that a train wreck is pretty cool.

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