Hard drive failure

Started Mar 29, 2013 | Discussions
str8pipe
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Hard drive failure
Mar 29, 2013

I have a hard drive that is rarely accessed in my computer, it's main use is storage. I would like to know what are the chance of failure?

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soloryb
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100% chance of failure
In reply to str8pipe, Mar 29, 2013

str8pipe wrote:

I have a hard drive that is rarely accessed in my computer, it's main use is storage. I would like to know what are the chance of failure?

100%

There's no such thing as a hard drive that will never fail. They all will fail eventually. How long does it take? I wouldn't trust a spinner (regular rotating hard disk drive) over 5-years old and SSDs (solid state drives) are actually rated by MTF (mean time to failure) with the better ones at 5-years. Having said this, I still have spinners over 7-years that have not yet failed, but I won't kid myself into thinking that they will be around much longer.

So, what should you do? Back up your main and storage drives onto a different drive. I have 3 internal spinners and an internal SSD plus an external spinner. I use the SSD for a boot/program drive and a 2-TB spinner for data. Then I use the other drives for data backups and drive image backups. You also might consider an optical drive so that you can back your data separately to DVDs or Blu-Ray disks.

I strongly suggest that you get Macrium Reflect (free download) or something as good to do all your backups. Don't wait till it's too late.

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Zone8
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Re: Hard drive failure
In reply to str8pipe, Mar 29, 2013

Irregular use does not imply it will fail due that reason.  However, I think it would be fair to say (judging from concensus of opinion) that irregular use of a SSD drive or any memory card could, at least, mean loss of stored data.

I have a number of drives that are more than 12 years old and still working daily for backups and suchlike (in USB enclosures) and two internal drives (IDE) that are around 10 years old working daily and no problems, alongside a 1 TB drive (new two years ago) as the main master drive.  Obviously, the external USB drives offer double backup of my own data plus a disc image or two!

Being where I am, in rural Spain, I have kept an old desktop with an AMD K6 CPU of fantastic high speed - like 500 and 512MB RAM, which has been useful on occasions for accessing e-mails via dial-up when the broadband has been out of action for a day or so, as happens.  That is many moons old, as is the internal 60GB hard drive - it has also been loaned to several people starting computer learning (so they then have a better understanding of what they should purchase), so I would never part with it even for just that reason.  Even being old and relatively slow for some things, strangely enough it is as fast for tripe-ing word documents as the latest soopah-doopah offerings.  That internal drive can sit idle for months between uses and it has been working faultlessly for at least 12 years to date, if not more.

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Bouldergramp
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Re: Hard drive failure
In reply to str8pipe, Mar 29, 2013

I started with IBM XT computers with 10MB hard drives and usually have at least two computers running daily at home.

I have never had a hard drive fail but I use Acronis True Image to backup the OS drives about once a month.

It is not a catastrophe if a drive fails.

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digitalshooter
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Well just spent 900 to recover a 7 year old drive
In reply to str8pipe, Mar 29, 2013

We become relaxed about this and it will cost you if you don't take precautionary measures.  My daughter went on spring break and came back and found her pc crashed, it was an internal hardware issue on the drive not data corruption.

First is this an IDE or SATA?  If SATA you are in good shape.  If it is IDE you are screwed and it is time to update your PC.

Either way and IF you can find a NEW IDE, here is what I recommend you immediately do:

1.) backup all data, not programs

2.) Clone the existing drive

3.) In stall the new drive

4.) Reboot

5.) use the removed drive as a permanent set aside drive with data only on it

6.) Replace motherboard battery

7.) sit back and enjoy

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PS: all posts are just my opinion!

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brn
brn
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Re: 100% chance of failure
In reply to soloryb, Mar 29, 2013

Agreed.  It's not a matter of 'if' a drive will fail, but a matter of 'when' it will fail.  You need to be prepared for 'when' it fails.

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scokill
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Re: 100% chance of failure
In reply to brn, Mar 30, 2013

brn wrote:

Agreed.  It's not a matter of 'if' a drive will fail, but a matter of 'when' it will fail.  You need to be prepared for 'when' it fails.

I've never had a drive failure, but I upgrade fairly frequently.  I have drives that are 15 years old that still work.  I've had drive controller on MB fail multiple times, but not in last 10 years.  But I agree, it's not if, it's when.  Back in the day the size of drives would change exponentially it seemed and you would upgrade more often, now 1TB has been around a while and I don't trust or need 2 TB but the day will come.  I do back up both SSD and Data drive daily.

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Eddaweaver
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Re: Well just spent 900 to recover a 7 year old drive
In reply to digitalshooter, Mar 30, 2013

First is this an IDE or SATA?  If SATA you are in good shape.  If it is IDE you are screwed and it is time to update your PC.

I don't know what the reasoning behind that is. IDE and SATA are plug formats and have nothing to do with the reliability of the drive.

Hard drives are at their most unreliable in the first year of operation and after the equivalent of 5 years of intense operation.

Failure rates will run at about 0.5 to 4% per year depending on the model and age. Fewer platters, less exposure to vibrations and lower spindle RPMs means higher reliability.

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digitalshooter
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Because IDE are basically old technology and extremely
In reply to Eddaweaver, Mar 30, 2013

Hard to find, new.

Thanks

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MisterBG
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Run a SMART test
In reply to str8pipe, Apr 1, 2013

Most SATA hard drives support S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology System).

Get a free download SMART drive monitor program, and see what results it comes up with.
SMART enabled drives keep an internal log of performance, and a SMART monitoring program allows you to access that information. From the information the program makes an intelligent prediction of the likely failure time. It takes into account spin-up time, remapped sectors and a number of other factors to make the estimate.

There are a number of free downloadable SMART analysis programs, including one by Acronis, all of which provide similar information. Do a search for SMART monitor programs and you will find many. For more information about SMART monitoring see the Wiki entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S.M.A.R.T.

If you are using an external hard drive for data backup, don't keep it permanently connected when it's not in use.
However, it's good practice, if you are not using it regularly, to connect the drive once every month or so and allow it to spin-up just to exercise it. There have been examples of drives becoming "sticky" due to lack of use. At the same time you can run your SMART program on the drive.

As soloryb says, all drives will fail eventually. It's just a matter of being aware of the state of your drive, and taking the necessary action to prevent catastrophic failure.

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