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Data Recovery Blog

How to keep your hard drive cool

Nov 23, 2020

Computers need to be kept cool. They’re manufactured with heat sinks, fans, air vents and other forms of cooling systems. Hard drives are particularly sensitive to heat and keeping them running at an optimum temperature can protect your files as well as increase the lifespan of your device too.

This article will explain why it’s important to keep your hard drive cool and give you specific advice to improve the environment for your hard drive.

All computers and electronic devices produce excess heat. Why? Because the sensitive equipment inside your computer is working constantly. More intensive usage, such as video editing or gaming is power-hungry and produces even more heat as a result.

How do you know if your Hard Drive is too hot?

Whether you’re using a laptop, desktop PC, Mac or external hard drive, if the temperature is too high then you will start to notice some performance issues. You may experience one or more of the following:

  • Programmes taking a long time to fully load
  • Files taking a long time to open
  • Your device takes a long time to awaken from sleep or standby
  • There’s a delay between input and action (e.g. your computer does not immediately respond to mouse clicks or there is a noticeable delay between your keyboard strokes and seeing them appear on screen)
  • Performance issues and lag when watching videos or playing games
  • You notice physical excessive heat when handling your computer or external hard drive

Monitor your hard drive’s temperature

All modern hard drives have S.M.A.R.T (Self-monitoring, analytical and reporting technology) sensors, which includes a temperature sensor. However, you will need a software tool to access this information:

Windows users: Open Hardware Monitor is free to use and HWMonitor has both a free and paid version, with additional features.

Mac users: There are many freemium apps available by search the app store, iStat Menus and Temp Monitor, for example.

Most of these tools will also show you other information about your computer, such as CPU temperature, RAM usage, energy usage and disk transfer rate. If you’re intrigued about your computer’s usage then these pieces of software are useful for understanding what’s going on inside the case and discovering which programmes are responsible for causing excess heat.

Ideally, a hard drive should be operating between 35-40°C. If the hard drive goes above 50°C, damage is highly possible.

Keep a backup of your important data

If you’re concerned about your hard drive getting too hot, then the first thing you should do is take a backup. Not tomorrow, do it today. Do it right now. Hard drives are notorious for working perfectly well one day and then refusing to work the next.

If you have any concern that your device is failing in any way, backing up your files gives you that peace of mind whilst you find a solution.

Tips to keep your hard drive cool

If heat is causing issues for your hard drive’s performance, here are some tips to help you keep your hard drive cool:

Reduce the ambient temperature

If you suspect your hard drive needs to be kept cool, then ensure that the ambient temperature of your room, office or workspace isn’t too warm. You should aim for 21°C to help your computer and its hard drive work most efficiently.

However, if this is not a comfortable working temperature for your person comfort, then make sure that any heat source such as radiators or electric fans are positioned away from the electrical equipment.

Reposition your computer

Is your computer close to a radiator, boiler or other heat source? Perhaps it’s positions close to a window that gets a lot of sunlight on a warm day. All these factors make it more difficult for your computer to operate, and its hard drive and other components will have a greater risk of overheating.

If possible, move your computer to a cooler area of your home or office and away from direct sources of heat. This will help to cool down your hard drive and reduce excess heat in or around your computer.

Keep your workspace clean and tidy

You’ve probably already noticed that computers are dust magnets! Even peripherals and wires are notorious for gathering dust. Over time, dust builds up quickly and adds to the excess heat produced by your device.

Laptops and PCs have air vents and fans that will gather dust in a matter of minutes, so you should keep your workspace as clean and clutter-free as possible to reduce dust.

If there is a layer of dust on your computer or any of its air vents and ports, use a microfibre cloth to gently pick up all the dust.

Make sure you use a microfibre cloth, as other clothes produce static which can damage the sensitive parts inside your computer or even cause serious damage to your files and other data!

Improve air flow around your hard drive

In addition to keeping your workspace and computer free from dust, you can also take extra steps to improve air flow to help your hard drive stay as cool as possible.

Laptops have the same components as PCs but condensed into a much smaller case, whilst many have fans and other cooling solutions, they’re still incredibly susceptible to heat. This is usually made worse by user habits, such as using them on soft furniture, beds and, like their name implies, on laps.

If you’re a laptop user, using a laptop stand or riser improves airflow underneath the laptop.

For PC users, you have a few more options.

There is generally much more space inside a PC case for air flow, so ensure that your fans and exhaust are well placed for maximum airflow. It also helps to work on cable management as cables inside the case restrict the flow of air and cause extra heat.

Related: Hard drive noises and what they mean: clicking, grinding and bleeping

Consider new cooling solutions for your computer

Laptop users can use laptop stands with additional cooling fans built-in, which are powered by USB. These provide extra cooling as well as elevate the laptop from the surface, allowing for some air flow beneath the device.

PC users can invest in additional fans or water-cooled solutions. Water cooling is generally more expensive but offers superior cooling when compared to fans. It’s also preferable due to it being quieter, but it’s usually reserved for high-end PCs and gaming systems which already have a hefty price tag.

Many computer stores sell dedicated fans and cooling solutions specifically for hard drives and SSDs inside PC cases. 

Benefits of keeping your hard drive cool

By taking care of your device, it will last longer and provide you better value for money. Your files, photos and data will be kept safer if they’re stored on a well-maintained drive.

Have you lost data?

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We have a proven track record of ensuring a successful hard drive recovery. We’ve recovered data from hard drives that have suffered from faulty firmware, bad sectors, mechanical failures and more.

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