How To Prepare For Hard Disk Failures

Hard Disk Failure
Hard Drive FailureA common hazard we grapple with, on an everyday basis, when using Personal Computers or laptops, is the risk of sudden death of our Hard disks or Hard Drives. Just visualize the catastrophe that would strike, if your hard disk were to fail, this very second! It’s most likely that you could lose all those important files or favorite content if you, like most do not have a fail-proof back-up plan in place. Today, backup solutions are aplenty and some of them – like online backup solutions prove to be ‘pound-wise’ solutions – if you were to paraphrase the popular adage ‘penny-wise, pound-foolish,’ when scouring for backup solutions. More on this later, but first the agonizing question why do hard disks crash?

A hard disk is much like any other mechanical device and has short life-cycles. Most parts of a computer are typically electronic and are affected by fluctuations in power flow; hard disks are affected by both electronic and mechanical stress. So, the first aspect of a hard disk is that despite 100% care, it is likely to fail in nearly 60-percent of the cases. Another 40-percent probability of hard disk failures is due to misuse.

Hence, it is very important that:

  • You do not end up bumping or jostling your computer when it is running.
  • You ensure the air filters are clean.
  • The electronic circuit board does not overheat when in use.
  • You take precautions against sudden power surges, especially when the hard disk is writing.
  • You have high-quality bearings for the electric motor that will let the hard disk platter to spin.

What is hard disk failure?
Typically a hard drive failure can be classified as physical failure and logical failure. When the head itself has crashed, the electric motor and the moving parts are damaged, they are termed physical failures. When files get corrupted, due to accidental deletion of registry entries, which is most likely to happen when formatting the file. Such logical failures could also occur due to virus attacks, and the scenario that occurs during such infection, is that the BIOS will continue to recognize the drive but will fail to boot.

Hence the life of a hard drive will depend entirely on how you maintain your hard disk and how you use it. A few precautions and some best practices could well increase your hard disk’s shell-life. If you were to have Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) on your hard disk then you would be able check the log files to estimate hard disk failure-points.
However, despite any sophisticated technology to monitor and analyze your hard disk for its likely failure, it will be worth your time and expenses, if you were to invest in a good data backup service. Though, it is possible to restore most content from a failed hard drive, there will remain certain sectors which are so far corrupted that you may lose some very sensitive data.

Most times, the loss of critical data is so inexplicable that most would readily invest in professional back up services. While it is common practice to typically store most important data such as personal information and other data on external USB, which though expensive will have loads of memory and will keep you immune from hard disk failures to virus attacks. A larger external disk drive will also help in backing up large, important large files, but this method too is not an ongoing process; unless you are highly disciplined and back-up to the device on a daily-basis. Even here, there are chances of losing important data as it does not happen at real-time.

Power users will recommend that you install a ‘disk image’ program that will ensure that you will always have a back-up copy. In addtion, this solution also offers a time-lag between creation and backing-up the files.

What’s the alternative?
The most effective solution to have a fool-proof backup of hard disk content is online backup. While each of the backup solutions currently available, are riddled with pros and cons on being the most effective solution, online backup services have the most number of positive aspects that will prove to be not only the best case backup-program but the most cost-effective as well.

While there are several plans that are both subscription based as well as a one-time fee plan, online backup solutions provide the ideal solution matrix to ensure you are always protected from the inevitable hard disk crashes.

Holding spare copies of all the hard disk data on the cloud is a single-point solution that, resolves several daily logistics of computing. Not only do they prove an excellent resource for online backup services, they are the most effective solution set for storage of daily files, without the maddening need to invest in new hardware to hold multiple copies of the same files.

Top 3 highly recommended online backup services today are – MyPcBackup, ZipCloud and Mozy.

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