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How Reliable is your Hard Disk?

If I ask that question to a number of people, I have a feeling I would get all sorts of answers. I think, Hard Disk reliability doesn’t necessarily depends on the manufacturer but it also depends on how it has been treated in a machine. In my opinion, a HDD in a machine with multiple power cuts would most likely have a short lifespan than one run with proper care.

Lets talk about the Manufacturer…

People have preference when it comes to HDD Manufacturer. When it comes to the manufacturer, I tend to go for Western Digital (WD) and solely because I had less bad experience with it compared to Maxtor…

I am not saying WD drives never fails, in fact I do have an old WD 80GB IDE drive here which died this morning; but it does have low percentage of failure.

Why does it die?

One person actually asked me this question and the answer is very simple. Any electronic equipment, or any functioning part will die at one point, its the same as human body, it all depends on how its been treated the background of it. When it comes to HDD, its the manufacturer.

How to stop a HDD from dying?

You can’t and you never know when it’s going to die, same as a human being… You never know when you are going to die. It all comes down to to proper care and how its been treated. For example, do not shut your machine down by pulling the plug, it WILL kill the HDD at one point! If you want to shut it down without doing it via the Operating System, press and hold the Power Button for 10 seconds and it should shut the machine down.


Treat a HDD like it is going to die the next minute and back it up on a regular basis. If you don’t have any important information on the disk, then it not a problem. You could either manually back it up on another drive, setup RAID on machine or even back it up to a remote server.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cbreaker

    You should leave out anecdotal evidence on reliability. Your personal experience with a few drives means absolutely nothing in real world reliability for drives. Everyone's experience will vary.

    I've owned hundreds of hard drives in the last 20 years and I've managed many thousands of drives on the job. Even that is not enough to suggest one manufacturer over another.

    Seagate has always made good drives, but I've had many Seagate drives die. I've owned quite a few Hitachi disks and I've had many of those die as well.

    It really doesn't matter what the manufacturer is. Hard drives are high tech devices and they are among the most difficult components to produce. There are no hack hard drive factories – all hard drives are made with very expensive equipment in clean room environments. There's only one factor in failure rates between manufacturers, and that's quality tolerance. While company A might reject drives with x amount of errors on the platters, company B might have a lower number. (No hard drive data platter is perfect; that's impossible. During production, the errors are mapped and those parts of the disk remain unused for the life of the drive.) Generally speaking, all drives have about the same error rate because they are all built by about the same tools.

    A hard drive is nothing like the human body and the comparison is really silly. You don't have to make nonsense comparisons in an attempt to dumb things down. A hard drive is a mechanical device and mechanical devices wear out and are prone to defects. Hard drives are very high tech devices and they have extremely tight tolerances, so if there's even a small defect it can reduce the life of the drive by a great deal.

    There are some tools such as SMART which can help indicate a failure of a disk. It's not perfect, however; SMART has been known to report false predictive failures and not discover a fault when a drive is in serious trouble.

    There might be a particularly bad "run" of drives of a particular model from a particular manufacturer. It's happened to all of them. Maybe it was a design flaw, maybe it was faulty firmware or a bad capacitor on the board. This doesn't indicate the quality of the rest of the product line and these problems are corrected quickly because warranty repairs can be expensive.

    There ARE things you can do to avoid data loss in the event of a disk failure. You can put drives in a RAID set to help protect you from hardware failure. All current versions of Windows allow you to create a mirror – put two drives of identical capacity in the machine, and they will both store a copy of all of the data. If one drive fails, you still have all of your data. Linux and MacOS can do the same thing. There's also more advanced types of RAID with more than two disks but for normal PC users, mirroring is extremely accessible and I recommend it to anyone that has critical data on their computers. It's very easy to do.

    Backups are a necessity, of course, but RAID is the only way to ensure that you will have all of your data, up to the moment the drive failed.

    Perhaps some additional education about hard drives would have helped you write a better "article." You should also consider the use of the apostrophe when you're using "it's" as short for "it is."

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