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Why do hard drives fail?

Posted on 2006-06-30
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  Can someone tell me how hard drives fail - ie suddenly seem to become unreadable?
 
   I tried to give someone my particular view on why/how it happens, but they felt my explanation was insufficient.
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Question by:finalascent
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by:safepointmedia
safepointmedia earned 75 total points
ID: 17019704
Your kidding right?? Asking why hard drives fail is like asking why after 200,000 miles my engine threw a bearing. To be serious, no one can really tell why they fail. Mechanical reasons brought on by poor workmanship, age, poor handling by the end user (dropping a laptop or touching it with a tool that was not properly grounded, can all cause hard drives to fail.  If I had to venture a guess as to why most fail, I would have to say it's age. Keep in mind that a hard drive is mechanical and most rotate at considerable speeds 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is just so much a mechanical device can take, just like a car. No matter how well an engine is taken care of, it ultimately will fail.

I hope this answers your question.

Sincerely,

Bruce


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g-w-langdon earned 250 total points
ID: 17019882
    There are a number of reasons for failure.  Most of them are mechanical, or in geek-talk, "hardware".  The tolerances inside a hard drive are tiny, so a good jolt can cuase failure.  This is particulary true if the hard drive is jarred while it is spinning.  Another condition can be when the tiny little read-heads break.  Any rattling sound inside the hard drive case means broken components.
     Another common problem is the hard drive controller burns out.  This is the circuit board on the hard drive.  You can sometimes recover the data by making it a slave and using a new driver's control card to operate everything.  Careful of your master/slave settings.
     Hard drives are fragile and not a good place to store any data for the long term.  You should back up all your files regularly, as a disaster requires BOTH a hard disk failure AND a lack of backup copies.  The main use of a hard drive is to launch your programs rapidly (you do have the originals of all your applications, don't you, so you can restore them in case of a crash).  Only use a hard drive as a place to retrieve/store data that needs fast access.  BAckup all files you create using an application.  Most data does not require fast access time, and should be stored (burned) on optical disks.
     Those who quote your "chances" of losing data on a hard drive are inexperienced.  It is 100% certain that at some point you will lose everything stored there.  One common "software" problem is sectors going bad, which can happen any time but your computer is supposed to warn you or automatically bypass bad sectors.  It is a software problem because it is your computer, not your hard disk, that determines bad sectors.  The other major software problem is viruses.  If they wipe out your boot record, you won't be able to boot.
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by:ded9
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by:Purple_Sky
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by:finalascent
ID: 17021074
 Thanks to all for your answers.

 
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