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Does cold booting (hard boot) a laptop damage the hard drive?

dlancelot
dlancelot asked
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I would like a written proof from a reputable source (non wiki, non opinionated) that states that it does or does not affect the hard drives life span.

Anyone up to the challenge? (I've already tried google to no avail).
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No.

Cold booting has never been about hardware damage. It is about Windows not being able to write registry and other data changes to the drive before it shuts down.

I do not care to try to prove it. It is just common sense if you have been working on systems for more than a couple of years.

The only time I fear hardware damage to the HDD is when the system is shut off and stared back up before the drive has spun down.

I hope this helps.

Sean Larabee
Network Engineer
if the system is older than XP so it damages cause it's illegal and not in system's process like electricity power off
 
if system  (OS) is XP and newer so it's legal and no damages, cause the power button is like shutdown normally.

damages are the same what you find in wiki and others and more, maybe motherboard crashes
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.

Commented:
Can't do it for laptop drives but can get something for hard disks in server systems.

See http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/labs.google.com/en//papers/disk_failures.pdf and Section 3.5.5 Miscellaneous Signals and find the Power Cycles paragraph.

I've cut and pasted the relevant section here.


Power Cycles. The power cycles indicator counts the number of times a drive is powered up and down. In a server-class deployment, in which drives are powered
continuously, we do not expect to reach high enough power cycle counts to see any effects on failure rates. Our results ¿nd that for drives aged up to two years, this is true, there is no signi¿cant correlation between failures and high power cycles count. But for drives 3 years and older, higher power cycle counts can increase the absolute failure rate by over 2%. We believe this is due more to our population mix than to aging effects. Moreover, this correlation could be the effect (not the cause) of troubled machines that require many repair iterations
and thus many power cycles to be ¿xed.

Commented:
Are you talking traditional hard drive or SSD hard drive?  I'll assume traditional.  A cold boot to any electronic device in a computer is going to ever so slightly wear it out.  The process of heating up and cooling off wears them down.  Because booting a computer in general requires accessing the hard drive a lot to load the OS then it will wear out faster than if it were already running.  If you compare it to a soft boot (reboot) then the reboot would be more gentle on the drive because it isn't changing temperature as much and coming on from an off state (cold boot).

Here's some info on electronic component wear from Carnegie Mellon University with a study on failure rate and stress of components.

http://www.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/des_s99/electronic_electrical/
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
You state cold BOOT.  Not cold REBOOT/hard REBOOT.  

If cold boots damaged hard drives, the drive and the system warranties provided wouldn't cover a long period of time (3-5 years in many cases).  Once you get beyond 3-5 years, the system is generally so outdated that the it is disposed of/recycled before it can fail on the original owner.

Hard drives have moving parts.  It has been suggested that spin-up and spin-down can increase stress on the drive mechanism.  Of course, constantly running and generating heat can do the same.  

You are VERY UNLIKELY to find the answer you want and lacking such an answer, you should be awarding points to the most valid, logical argument you receive.  If you REALLY want the best answer you can get, you'll explain WHY you feel you need this information.

 

Author

Commented:
Very interesting indeed.  
At our tech shop we have had a few clients with multiple drive failures (on the laptops mainly) in a short period of time, and the clients have admitted to using the power button to turn the system off using hard boot instead of the normal windows shutdown procedure.
We have dissassembled an old desktop HDD (250GB multi platter) and found that the read head is floating on what looks on initial inspection like a mini felt pad.  So what you've said makes sense.  
We have observed that removing the power while it was running, there was no significant change with the read head.  
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.

Commented:
>> We have observed that removing the power while it was running, there was no significant change with the read head.  

Strange.

It is my understanding that if power is cut the heads will automatically park themselves.

See http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=84&pgno=3 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_disk_drive#Landing_zones_and_load.2Funload_technology (yes I know it is not a reputable source).

Author

Commented:
that is possible, the drive that we experimented on had a bad controller board and suffered the click of death, so its possible the bad controller board resulted in the head not parking itself.  Thanks for the resource.

Author

Commented:
Still leaves us wondering about the laptop customers with the failing hard drives...the only thing they seem to have in common is that they both kept using the power button to turn off the computer instead of using the "shutdown" feature within windows...
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
What you've described is different than a "cold boot."    Turning off a system by holding the power switch until it shuts down is NOT a "cold boot" -- it's a forced shutdown.

When you hold the power switch the microcontroller that monitors the switch will monitor the switch, and if it's held for more than 5 seconds will simply cut power to the system.    It is certainly possible to cause corruption to the hard drive by doing this (if there are uncleared cache contents of if the drive loses power during a write);  but it won't do physical damage to the drive, as the heads will auto-park instantly when power is lost.

As for whether a "cold boot" hurts the drive -- No, it does not.    However, drives are rated for a specified number of start/stop cycles ... typically 50,000  ==> this is more than a typical drive's "lifetime" ... but it is possible to approach this limit  (especially if your drives are auto-spun-down in a very short time span, and restarted a lot during a typical workday).

Distinguished Expert 2019

Commented:
there are probably other possibilities to cause their problems, that you can't see; eg how they handle the laptops (bump them around -  leave them in hot car or such)
and of course, it can be a coincidence.
i assume the disks were not the same model in each case?   anyhow, 2 disks is not enough to make a statement like you did imo.
you can of course buy industial standard disks  for them
I'm sorry I do not mean to appear as if this is a stupid discussion but it it is.

The hardware issues of laptops, desktops and/or servers has absolutely nothing to do with boot processes.

Boot up or down is simply data operations and the concept that a device that is designed to do just that one thing would be damaged by a mis-write or mistake in that simplistic operation is just plain ludicrous.

Hard drives do no process data they deliver it. Hard drives do not know the difference between linux, unix, windows, or mac.

Hard drives are what they are. Data storage devices and the engineers that design them do so with the concept in mind that they do not need to conform to the needs of any given operations that data may perform.

The entire discussion is an exercise in misunderstanding.

Whether you choose to grasp the concept or not the fact is that hard drives are designed, on start perform certain tasks independent of the last operation performed. If they were not engineered with that concept in mind reboot failures would be the main cause of all failures, which is not at all the case, although HDD failures are a leading cause of systems failure.

The modern HDD is really a awesome example of modern engineering with parts that move at very high speeds to perform data tasks at very high speeds. To think that how they are turned on and off would be able to cause physical or hardware damage to the devices themselves is to ignore the complexity and intelligence that they were designed with in the first place.

Author

Commented:
Sean: the first 3/4 of what you have said is off topic.  I have asked why the hard drives are failing...not anything O/S related.  Sorry for your misunderstanding.

I'm still unsure of why we are seeing such a high failure rate on some of our laptop hard drives (2.5" sata).
I thought it was user abuse, but from what a few of you are saying is that it's coincidence?

Author

Commented:
Nobus, true, the statement about the two clients is just what's fresh in my mind.  I have seen probably a dozen of these cases in less than 6 months.  All the hard drives are new from the manufacturer with a date stamp usually in the last 6 months.  The hard drives are varying in make/model so no real consistency there either :(

Author

Commented:
I guess at the end of the day, we will replace a hard drive in a unit when we see that it has a %'age health that's lower than 100% (via hard drive sentinel).  I believe this health %'age number is affected by how many bad sectors or read/write failures that the hard drive has?  
Can this be affected by how many "forced shutdowns" an end user performs?
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
That's what I noted earlier -- "forced shutdowns" are the worst thing you can do for both the hard drive's health and the potential corruption of an OS.    These cause what are effectively power outages at inopportune times -- the same as losing power on a desktop.    They're more likely to cause corruption on the disk than actual disk hardware failure -- there's a good likelihood that these "failed disks" could be rejuvenated with a utility like SeaTools or WD's Data Lifeguard with the destructive write tests ... but this would wipe out everything on the disk in the process.    A Level 4 pass with Spinrite may fix them without any data loss.

But the best "solution" is to train your users to not hold the power button.    It's okay to simply press it -- this will cause whatever the power options have set for this event to occur (typically either hibernate or tun off on a laptop).

Author

Commented:
Thank you for the quick response Gary:

Does HDD Regen do something similiar to a "Level 4 pass with Spinrite"?
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
Yes, HDD Regenerator is very similar to Spinrite.

Author

Commented:
interesting...so these issues with the hdd's the "bad sectors", they can be "repaired" and the hdd's do not need to be replaced?
Retired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
Commented:
Not always -- but it depends on whether they're truly "bad" or have simply become corrupted ... perhaps by losing power in the midst of a write operation (which can happen with a forced shutdown).

Certainly worth running HDD Regen or Spinrite on one of the "failed" drives to see if it helps.

Author

Commented:
Thank you Gary, plenty of good information here.