Hard drives can crash anytime on your computer which can be a frustrating experience. Similarly, the crash leads a hard drive to inability to read data and cannot be rendered in a computer. It can be difficult to access the data if the OS is still running as the data gets damaged. The best option to recover is to restore data to a new hard drive as a backup using some softwares. Without the backup data is lost and any recovery service won’t work to retrieve it back.
Today we are going to discuss all the possible hard drive failures and the causes, how to avoid frequent failures and problems step by step.
Hard Drive Failures
Without further ado let’s get into this.
Basics of Hard Drives
It’s most important to know the functions and basics of a hard drive before diving straight into the hard drive failures. A hard drive is a collection of magnetic platters where data is stored in large amounts and can be written and accessed using a drive head. The important components of a hard drive are drive motor, case, platters, drive heads and logic board.
The case is used to protect the drive from external damage and keeps the drive sealed inside from external environment even don’t allow the dust particles to move in. The motor spins the drive up where the data is written and read from the platters. Each platter has a magnetic media where the data is stored actually.
The drive heads are responsible to read and write data from the platters. Last but not least the logic board which is responsible for the drive to communicate with the computer system.
Let’s jump into the failures that we commonly face with the hard drive.
Common Hard Drive Failures
The most common failure that we face with a hard drive is the head crash. Generally, the head never touches the platters while reading or writing data. Due to impacts if the driver hits the platters, it can cause a crash and as a result the magnetic media gets etched off by the platter and render both the data and the drive bead inoperable. This type of failure cannot be recovered completely.
Similarly, another common hard drive failure is the imperfections on the magnetic media. When a sector on the hard disk fails to properly hold the magnetic alignment that will lead to the data inaccessible. Generally, drivers will have a few like these available on the platter, but they are labeled as low-level format by the manufacturer.
So these low-level formats will be marked as unusable sectors which cannot be used in the long process that erases all data from the drive.
Mobile systems tended to be prone to platters that shattered. The reason is simple as they are made up of glass and susceptible to shock. Majority of manufacturers have shifted from glass to other materials to prevent this damage.
Sometimes logic board gets stuck in the electrical problems, data on the drives becomes unreadable or damaged. So the logic board becomes unable to communicate properly to the computer system and the hard drive.
The MTBF is the good option to refer to the life span of a hard drive. It stands for Mean Time Between Failure which tells the length of time in which 50 percent of the drive fails before and the other half fails after. You can quickly get an idea of being a buyer that the average amount of time your drive will live. Now they have become limited to only enterprise-class hard drive instead of all consumer drives by the manufacturers of computers.
Capacity vs. Reliability
With the passage of time storage capacities of hard drives have increased drastically and that’s because the density of data being stored on the platters and the number of platters exists inside a hard drive case. For instance, the majority of the hard drives have two or three platters, which is increased to four platters now. Due to the increase in the parts and reduction in space has reduced the tolerance that the hard disk drives can leave the chance of failures.
Does Hard Drives Fail Often?
It depends on two factors: the usage of hard drives and construction. Computers, where hard drives are used for few hours in a day instead of long continuous usage, won’t let the drive overheat that protects the drive from failure. But computers are used for longer periods that increase the frequency of hard drive failures because of heavier use. So it totally depends on computer usage.
Similarly, there are other factors which lead the hard drive to failure like data density and number of platters. These things make the drive tighter and decrease the tolerance of drive which causes data loss of failure. With the passage of time the technology is improving and there are updated motors, chemical compositions of the media and another different kind of materials which decrease the chance of failure.
There’s not solid proof of frequent hard drive failure. The number of hard drives failing is not that common though.
To get a hint of a hard drive life is the warranty by the manufacturer. The longer the warranty is the more confident the manufacturer is about the reliability of the drive. Most commonly there are three to five-year warranties in the market which gives you the confidence to buy as you can get a replacement.
Actions to do When the failure occurs
The prime issue with hard drives is the loss of data. The number of digital device we use the more we are getting closer to data loss. Similarly recovering the data costs several hundred to thousands of dollars. Data recovery services are not even flawless. For instance, a head crash will remove the magnetic media from the platter destroying the data forever.
Well, To be honest, you cannot prevent drive failure. Not even the most reliable and reputable brands can escape this problem. The best options are to try and plan for an event which leads the drive to failure with data backups. You can use plenty of methods for data backup.
The best solution for this problem is the portable hard drives. They are not only inexpensive, but are used for a limited time, and are less prone to fail when used properly like data stored properly. You can get different capacities of external hard drives and they are similar to desktop drives. It’s recommended to use the drive when backup up data or restoring it. Which ultimately reduces the usage of drive and chances of failure as well.
The final option is to build a desktop PC with RAID which comes with data redundancy built in. The best method to set up RAID is mirroring. This requires a RAID controller and two identically sized storage drives. All the data available on one drive will be available on the other drive. If by chance a driver faces a failure, the other will be working file with the same data.
Hard Drive Failures ( How to Find and Avoid ) Updated Updated is today, so you get the latest information about this process.