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Data Recovery Blog

5 Ways to Increase the Lifespan of your Hard Drive

Jan 6, 2022

Have you wondered how to increase the lifespan of your hard drive? It is a common misconception that your computer’s hard drive will last as long as the computer itself. Although this is true for solid state drives, it is not true for mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs). These often have an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years, depending on usage and file management. If you use and handle your HDD carefully, however, you can significantly increase its lifespan.

The lifespan of mechanical hard disk drives is dependent on a number of factors, including the workload, environmental conditions and hardware maintenance. The following provides tips for increasing the lifespan of your mechanical hard disk drive and for avoiding common mistakes.

While no hard disk is immune to faults, there are a number of things you can do to increase the lifespan of your hard disk drive. This post presents several tips that can help you protect your data and make your hard disk last significantly longer.

Hard drives are mechanical, so there are moving parts inside. As with any device with moving parts, they are subject to wear and tear even with conservative usage habits.

Here are 5 ways to make your hard drive last longer.

1. Always buy Quality Hard Drives

The most important factor in increasing a hard drive’s life span is its quality. Cheap drives fail more often than expensive ones because they’re built to lower standards and because they’re often made from inferior materials.

Hard drive manufacturers also use non-standardized techniques for testing their products’ strength. As a result, one company’s 1TB drive might be rated for a certain number of hours before it fails — but another company’s 1TB drive might last much longer than that. The only way to determine if a particular hard drive will last is to look at the manufacturer’s warranty and return policies.

You can also read a range of hard drive reviews, make sure to read reviews from average consumers and technology writers – who may scrutinise the intricacies the hardware in greater depth. This gives you a great insight into the quality of the hard drive you’re about to buy.

2. Handle Hard Drives with Care

Hard drives are extremely sensitive to sudden jolts. You should never drop them and it’s best to avoid moving them around too much. Keep them on a clean, flat surface where they won’t be subject to vibrations or temperature fluctuations.

Although they are designed to resist damage from dust and water, don’t leave them in areas of high humidity or where they might get splashed with water or liquid.

Most desktop hard drives don’t tend to be moved around very often, but some older laptops will be fitted with mechanical drive. Laptops and portable hard drives do get moved around more often, so take extra care when carrying these.

If you do have to carry a laptop or portable hard drive, always use a padded bag, case or dedicated container. Make sure that the device fits snuggly inside its carrier so that it doesn’t move around too much in transit.

3. Keep Hard Drives in a Healthy Operating Environment

Hard drives obviously don’t like being anywhere near water, dampness or humidity. They also don’t like to operate if the ambient temperature is too warm. Most computer parts to create excess heat, including hard drives.

However, if you actively take steps to keep your hard drive cool, you are increasing its lifespan. There are steps you can take to avoid your hard drive running too warm including:

  • Improve the airflow in and around your computer in general
  • Reduce the ambient temperature of the room where your hard drive is kept
  • Turn off the hard drive when it’s not being used
  • Regularly clear any dust from the outside of your hard drive’s enclosure but never open it to clean the inside!

Learn more about how to keep your hard drive cool

4. Manage your Hard Drive’s Space Properly

Delete files you no longer use and keep only data that you need on your computer’s main hard disk drive. You do not have to store everything on the same place; keep some files on external drives or cloud storage sites.

Modern operating systems have built-in defragment your hard drive. Fragmentation happens when large files become split into smaller pieces (fragmented). These small pieces do not always get stored on the same physical segment, or even the same physical disk inside the hard drive enclosure. This results in slow load times.

You only need to defragment your drive if it’s necessary – so use your Operating System’s built-in tool to scan the drive to check for fragmented files on a regular basis.

5. Never Forget the 3-2-1 Rule of Data Storage

This means that you need 3 copies of your data, stored on 2 different storage mediums, with at least 1 of those copies being stored offsite.

Following this simple rule can protect your data. If one hard drive fails, then you have at least 2 other copies of it backed up.

As data recovery specialists, we have a lot of knowledge and expertise in this area, having helped hundreds of clients – we know that the largest cause of data loss is not faulty hard drives, mistakes or damage.

Failing to back up your important files and data is the single biggest cause of data loss!


How to Increase the Lifespan of your Hard Drive: Summary

As we’ve seen, numerous factors determine the lifespan of a hard drive. But the good news is that these factors are not all that difficult to manage. Sure, you can’t do much about age and general wear-and-tear, but everything else is well within your control. By making a few simple changes to your storage habits, you could increase the lifespan of your hard drive by an order of magnitude or more.

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