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How much damage am i doing to my hard drive with a hard shutdown?

Posted on 2006-07-09
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hi all,

I have owned my laptop for about a year now and in that time have had to do a hard shutdown (via holding down the main power button on the laptop) about 10-20 times (maybe more - I don't really count). Usually it is because XP hangs whilst shutting down (I assume due to my Norton congifuation - since I disabled A drive scan/email scanning it's been mostly fine).

Anyway, I have been searching the net for a while now for information about the possible damage I am doing (presumably to my hard drive) duing a hard shutdown.

Does anyone have any information about this? Does each one take its toll on my hard disk and reduce it's lifespan? (btw, what is a ball park lifespan for a HD?)

Thanks for your help
Question by:spirax
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LVL 31

Assisted Solution

rid earned 150 total points
ID: 17067580
Mean time between faults for modern hard drives is in the 100.000 to 300.000 hours, perhaps better still.

A hard shut down is more likely to do logical damage than physical... i.e. the file system may suffer but not the HD mechanics.

Author Comment

ID: 17067593

Could you please expand on what you mean by logical damage (file system buffering). I have NO idea what you mean :)

I also assume that shutdown frequency has no impact on the lifespan of modern HDs?

Assisted Solution

RA123987 earned 100 total points
ID: 17068657
I agree.  The hard shut down is most likely doing more damage to the OS then the physical drive.  Have you considered reloading the OS to prevent the lock ups?  Conside the damage that it will cause if the OS freezes up and you shutdown and loose everything.  You may be better off reloading and starting from a clean image then worrying about the continuous freeze ups which will most likely get progressively worse over time if you do not find the problem and rectify it properly.  The lifespan on a lptop hard drive is much shorter then a typical PC hard drive.  I'm not sure if it's because of the size and heat or if it's because of the constant startup and shutdown everytime the laptop is taken out of the bag.  I do site support and 9 out of 10 drives that fail are on our laptops compared to our desktops.
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LVL 31

Assisted Solution

rid earned 150 total points
ID: 17068711
Logical damage - I meant that files and file allocation tables (or equiv.) may suffer damage due to power loss during write operations. The drive will be messed up, but recoverable, if not else then by a formatting. The physical part of shutting down the drive is no different when you shut down properly: the drive stops when the power is cut-off.

Accepted Solution

amit_panjwani earned 200 total points
ID: 17068847
I agree - Physical damage may be less/neglible/none when laptop is forced shutdown by pressing power button.
Operating system files/running processes are still open/running - When you simply turn it off - Windows doesnt gets chance/time to shutdown/close  these  running processes/open files - Which again may have dependent files/processes waitnig for them. And seeing windows is so sensitive when it comes to data handling - It is not recommended - it is required - Windows be shutdown right way.

Hardware damage may have been neglible - But depending on you laptop and kinda hard drive you have got there -> Usually by expereince I have seen Seagate and Toshiba Hard Drive usually work reliably for about 18 months. (It may vary as per usage - taking @ 8 hours of average work a day)

LVL 19

Assisted Solution

simpswr earned 50 total points
ID: 17069906
You can troubleshoot your shutdown problem . . to to msconfig startup and uncheck all . . reboot and see if the shutdown goes away . . if it does, go back and re-enable one at a time to see who the culprit is.

FWIW . . If you have Norton System Works or Internet Security, I'd start with that . .

Author Comment

ID: 17070655
Thanks guys

Expert Comment

ID: 17070743
Thank you,


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