Hard drives. They store your most precious data. From pictures of loved ones to financial data, it’s all equally important. Each year we are storing more and more data onto rotating drives. The demand is high, and the cost is cheap. But don’t let that fool you. Your data holds a certain value that most would deem invaluable.

What a Dying Hard Drive Sounds Like

In today’s post, I will explain what a hard drive is, why they fail, and why you need to back them up.

What Exactly Is A Hard Drive?

Simply put, hard drives are the devices in your computer that store the data. When it comes down to it, data is just a bunch of magnetic 1’s and 0’s that are stored on a set of platters. If you were to open a hard drive and look at the inside, you would see a few platters stacked on top of each other. They look just like cd’s but they aren’t made out of plastic.

dying hard drive sounds like

The platters are coated with a magnetic material that an actuator arm slides up against. On the end of the arm is a tiny magnet that pulls and pushes data onto the platters. Since the platters are magnetic, they retain the data even if the power is turned off. This makes them a good option for storing data long term. Even if the computer has been off for years, next time you push the power button your data will be right where you left it. For more information on the working parts of a hard drive, click to read more about hard drives.

Why Do Hard Drives Fail?

The average life expectancy of a hard drive is between 3 and 5 years. That said, there are many reasons why a hard drive could fail. Internal components like bearings can fail, platters can fail, or electrical failure are some of the most common. Then you have the less common reasons like fire, flood, tornado, or even an earthquake. Any number of things could happen. One time I had a customer that had a dog urinate on the front of a server and their hard drive failed due to the liquid. Ask me about that story some other time.

Another reason hard drives fail is simply because they get worn out. The average hard drive spins around 7200 rpm. If you calculate that out over time, a computer left powered on will have a hard drive that rotates at least 3.7 billion times.

That’s a LOT of spinning!!!


Hard drives were not designed to last forever. We have a saying, “It’s not IF your hard drive dies, it’s WHEN!!!”

The video below was recorded about a month ago by one of our techs. A customer came in with a failing drive. Fortunately, we were able to replace it before they lost all their data. After we recovered their files, we were able to record what their dying hard drive sounds like.

Trust me, this is not what you want your hard drive to sound like.

What your dying hard drive sounds like…


Why You Need To Backup Your Data

As you can see, losing a hard drive could potentially mean all your files disappearing like they were never even created. Pictures, banking info, recipes, school work, anything you save on your hard drive is destined to be destroyed if you don’t have some sort of backup in place. There are a few ways you can implement a backup plan.

1. Duplicate Hard Drives

These days, storage is cheap. The average cost of a 3 TB hard drive today is $109. On a 3 TB drive, you can store roughly 960,000 high resolution pictures. Most computers have extra room in them for you to install a hard drive. Buy one, install it, and setup the backup program in Windows to do at least a weekly backup to that drive. If you don’t have that kind of technical expertise, give us a call and we can help you out.

2. Cloud Backup

Cloud storage is very common these days. From file level backups to systems that synchronize your files with the cloud, there are many choices. Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are good choices if you are storing just pictures or simple, non-sensitive data. It’s a good idea to utilize one of these at least for your personal data like photos, but never for sensitive data like tax returns or your super secure password list that sits on your desktop.

If you are a business and need to synchronize data across a lot of different devices, we offer SureCloud, our premier cloud synchronization tool.

Check out the video below for a quick overview:

3. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity

The last option for creating a backup plan is to use a disaster recovery system. In this type of system, your data is not just backed up, the entire system that it’s stored on is. A disaster recovery / business continuity system is what businesses should have in place. In a DR solution, data on a server or a main desktop computer is backed up as an “image” and is stored as a complete system that can be restored at a later time. If a business were to experience a complete server failure, natural disaster like a fire or flood, or a major theft where the system “walks” out the front door, a DR system can keep your business running instead of dealing with downtime where no work can be performed. This keeps the business functioning and able to provide its services because that system can be virtualized on a spare server in the office, or in the cloud.

View the video below to see just how virtualization works.


In Conclusion

Data is all around us. Pictures, home movies, television shows, music, documents, school work. There is very little information that can be found in print because the cost to store it digitally is minimal. We want to share this data with our friends and family and the digital world exists just for this. That doesn’t mean that you can overlook a safeguard and protect that data from damage from viruses, theft, or complete loss from a dead hard drive.

As you can see from above, keeping your data safe is fairly easy to do. It just takes a little planning and the right tools.

Have you wondered what your dying hard drive sounds like? Are you in the need for a backup solution? Give us a call! We would be happy to discuss your needs and help you plan a backup and disaster plan that helps safeguard your data from loss for you.

Mike DeVincentis
What Your Dying Hard Drive Sounds Like was last modified: June 9th, 2015 by Mike DeVincentis
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