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 R-Drive Image.

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 a while.

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.

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