Data storage has become an important practice for most of us living in the modern digital age. This is because a lot of our work and our life data such as our pictures and videos have been converted to the electronic format. Instead of keeping photo books on our shelves and our bank statements in a folder, we are instead keeping most of our data either online or on our hard drives. And whilst keeping data online generally makes it safe from loss; doing so on our hard drives can still lead to us losing all that data which is precious to us. This is why it is important to look after our hard drives as they are still our vital companions when it comes to keeping our personal data safe.
Hard drives are fragile
Whilst a lot of use Solid State Drives (SSD’s) for our operating systems, most of us will still keep to the traditional mechanical Hard Disk Drives (HDD’s) to store our data, as those offer better value and larger storage capacities. And whilst SSD’s can be moved around easily, HDD’s contain different mechanical parts which can be broken easily if the drive is handled in a rough way. So the best practice with HDD’s is to transport them as little as possible, and doing so with care. Shaking an HDD too hard will most certainly stop it from working. If that is the case then we will have to call in on hard drive recovery services to recuperate our data; as attempting to open and repair the drive ourselves will most likely lead to the drive failing altogether.
Maintaining our hard drive
Our HDD’s are mechanical and as such they have a limited lifespan. However that lifespan can be increased by regular maintenance. For example, we can defragment our drives regularly, which will put all of the data close together on the hard drive’s magnetic disk, rather than spreading it around. This means that the disk will have to make less effort and less spins to read that data, which will increase its lifespan.
When it comes down to SSD’s, our best bet is to make sure that we enable AHCI / SCSI mode in our computer’s bios. This will enable our operating system to provide our SSD with a ‘TRIM’ command. SSD’s also have a limited lifespan, offering a limited amount of read and write cycles before the drive becomes slower to use. The ‘TRIM’ command enables the systematic deletion of unused data to make place for new data, reducing the amount of read and write cycles the drive has to go through.
Other good practices
Of course, there are other factors which will help our drives to last longer. One of the main factors which can lead to hard drive corruption is when the hard drive is unplugged during a data transfer operation. This can corrupt not only the data (as it is only partially copied) but can also lead to the creation of ‘bad sectors’ on an HDD. Those bad sectors will cause an issue every time data is copied onto them; and in most cases will lead to the progressive death of our hard drive. So the best thing to do is to make sure we complete our data transfers and then use the ‘safely eject’ function.
Ultimately, a hard drive will fail, but human actions can prolong its lifespan, giving us enough time to by a spare drive and transferring our data onto it. It is best to transfer all of our data onto a new hard drive before our main drive fails. After all, two copies are safer than one.