4 Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Hard Drive
Hard drive failure can
come out of nowhere and when it does, it can bring your important work
to a grinding halt for days. If your files aren’t backed up (as they
really should be) then getting back on track can be an even more
gruelling process That’s why it’s important to ensure that your hard
drive is healthy and to catch any problems early before they turn in to
something much worse.
1. Keep your ears open
Computers can be noisy
things sometimes, so it’s often easy to dismiss the sound of a failing
hard drive amidst everything else. A mechanical failure of the hard
drive will often produce a clicking noise.
That clicking noise means
your hard drive is on the fritz and is probably going to conk out soon.
A useful page of varying sounds that failing hard drives makes has been
compiled by DataCent.com,
but apply the rule of thumb that if your hard drive is sounding odd
then to get your files out of there as soon as possible.
If you begin to hear
anything out of the ordinary coming from inside your computer case,
then it is essential that you back up everything immediately. The best
way to do this is to image the drive using a read-only program, like
2. Scan the hard drive for errors
This is a simple to carry
out step, but one that can quickly highlight if there are any errors
present. Navigate to Computer on your Windows desktop, right click the
drive and select Properties. From there, switch to the Tools tab and
begin the error checking test. You can select an option to attempt
automatic recovery of any bad sectors that come up. Although it’s not
essential to carry this test out often, it’s worth doing every once in
3. Defragment the drive
Although you wouldn’t know
it, Windows splits your files into tiny parts in order to use the space
available on the hard drive efficiently. However, file fragmentation
occurs when free space is being constantly overwritten. This can cause
a lot of work on the drive read head as it has to look all over the
drive in order to piece together your file, making it take longer for
it to open. Defragging your drive will piece these files back together
in a way that speeds up access to the files. How often you should
defrag your drive depends on how intensively you are using your
computer, but you can risk shortening the lifespan of the drive if you
overdo it. Windows has an inbuilt piece of software to defrag, but
there are also third party companies like Auslogics
who produce other options.
Also note that you should
never defrag a failing hard drive. If you notice any signs of failure,
stop using your hard drive for anything but data recovery activities.
4. Tender love and care
Don’t move your computer
while it is on. Hard drives are fickle things and if the disk
inside is moved out of its plane of rotation then a lot of damage can
be caused. Also, make sure your computer is suitably cooled with fans
and is not sitting in the sun all day long. It can also be a good idea
to use a can of compressed air every once in a while to get rid of the
dust that can mount up inside your case. Make sure to do this in a
well-ventilated area and that you don’t accidentally knock anything out
of place while doing it.