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Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: 4 Environmental Threats

November 2, 2017 by Area 51 Data Solutions

Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: 4 Environmental Threats

November 2, 2017 8:35 am

Like we’ve discussed, the average hard drive has a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.  But there are environmental factors that can significantly shorten this lifespan.  Threats that you can help protect your hard drive from.

Heat

Since hard drives have lots of moving parts inside them, heat from friction can build up.  And when you mix heat, metal and a compact case, bad things can happen.  If you ever open up your desktop case, you may notice a fan unit.  Or perhaps you notice your laptop gets a little noisy whir going every now and then.  Those are fans working to keep your unit and it’s components cool.

But when the fans get dirty or the fan’s ventilation outlet blocked, your unit isn’t able to cool itself.  Which makes everything work harder.  Which results in more friction and heat.  You get the picture.

If a hard drive overheats, your data is at risk.  Your hard drive should ample breathing room with a good, clean fan and ventilation.

Dirt

Not only should you keep your fan and ventilation outlet free of dirt, but also the inside of your computer in general.  You may be familiar with taking compressed air to the inside of a computer.  That should be done on a regular basis to keep the computer running efficiently.

Dirt, from pet hair to dust particles and more, can of course get into crevices and components and risk damage.  But also a build up of dirt acts as a nice insulator for the heat we talked above.  So just stick to regular blow out schedule with a can of compressed air.

Scratches

One of the things dirt can cause are scratches on your hard drive.  A spec of dust finds it’s way into your device, those spinning parts get moving and the parts and dirt collide causing scratches and damage to your data.

Also, dropping your tower or laptop can cause, among other issues, a scratch to your hard drive.  Remember setting your boom box down to hard with a CD playing inside of it?  From then on when you hit that certain song it was on it’d skip and sound funny?  Well, that’s pretty much what a good jarring does to a hard drive.  But instead of being a music CD you can replace, that’s you’re data taking a hit.

Magnets

The general consensus is that you’d need a magnet much stronger than your average refrigerator magnet to damage a hard drive.  So if you’re worried that your computer may act up sitting too close to your filing cabinet decorated with magnets you’ve received from trade shows, you’re most likely a-okay.  But it never hurts to err on the side of caution and keep magnets a safe distance from your computer if that gives you peace of mind.

 

Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: Capacity

October 2, 2017 by Area 51 Data Solutions

Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: Capacity

January 14, 2014 3:03 pm

We now know a hard drive stores data.  It is the brain of your computer and holds the data your computer needs to function – operating system, software applications, files, documents, pictures, music, etc.  But what about how much can it hold?

Hard drive manufacturers measure capacity in bytes.   Most commonly with prefixes such as mega, giga and tera.  A megabyte equals 1,000 bytes, a gigabyte is 1,000,000,00 bytes and a terabyte is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.

Just like we talked about in Life Cycle of a Hard Drive:  Lifespan, you may already know all about your hard drive disk space if you ordered your machine new or have replaced your hard drive.  Or you can simply look up that information on your Windows machine.   Click ‘Computer’ in your Start Menu and there you have.  Most likely in terms of how much free space you have left of your total capacity.

Most hard drives’ stated capacity is actually less than what that drive can hold.  While you may think it’s bad to feel robbed of precious space, manufacturers build in buffers to allow for a variety of reasons.  One example of what that extra space may be used for is a redundancy options.  While redundancy is not a form of backup, it is a fail-safe measure in case of failure to help prevent data loss.

Running out of space?  Think you need a bigger hard drive?  Interested in redundancy or backup options?  We can help you determine which solutions would be best to solve any capacity shortages or data loss prevention.

Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: Replacement

September 1, 2017 by Area 51 Data Solutions

Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: Replacement

September 1st, 2017 9:21 am

As we discussed in ‘Life Cycle of a Hard Drive:  Lifespan’, it’s a good idea to know how old your hard drive is.  It’s an even better idea to then plan to swap the hard drive out for a new one when that 3-5 year mark is reached.  But, you’re probably thinking, why would I just up and replace a seemingly good hard drive solely because it’s hit a time limit?  If it’s not acting up, why bother?  Well, most often, by the time a hard drive ‘acts up’ you’re data is already at risk if not compromised.  So, we have found the best approach is a proactive one.  The cost of purchasing a brand new hard drive and transferring the data over is much less than the risk of pushing your hard drive as far as it will go.  It’s especially less costly the cost of actually losing the data from an old hard drive that wasn’t proactively replaced.  Not only the value of the data that is then inaccessible but also any cost and time you may try to put into recovering data that may or may not even be recoverable.

Once your hard drive has been replaced, don’t just toss that old hard drive.  First you want to make sure that any data that was on it has been properly wiped or destroyed.  Then it still doesn’t just get thrown in the trash.  Hard drives are considered electronic waste (e-waste) and need to be disposed of properly.   E-waste makes up 2% of America’s trash in landfills, which equates to 70% of overall toxic waste.  These toxins then find their way into water supplies and cause damage to nervous systems, blood, kidneys and more.  It is important that all e-waste is properly recycled and disposed of.  Find an e-waste recycle and disposal center near you here.  Our team can also help make recommendations on proper e-waste collection and disposal.

 

 

Life Cycle of a Hard Drive: Lifespan

August 1, 2017 by Area 51 Data Solutions

The average lifespan of a hard drive is 3 to 5 years.  While many last longer, 5 years is really considered a milestone.  Therefore after the 3 to 5 year mark, the device should no longer be trusted with critical data.  When it comes to the age of your hard drive you may be wondering:

How do I know how old my hard drive is?  There isn’t really an easy way to find out how old your hard drive is.  There is no one-click button or system properties screen that will tell you.  Basically, it’s just a matter of knowing when the hard drive was installed brand new from the manufacturer to your system.  With a work computer, the odds of you having this information are slim.  Most likely, an IT staffer will have this information, but even that can be an uncertainty.

The odds of knowing and tracking the age of a hard drive greatly increase with an IT support partnership firm like us!  Area 51 Data Solutions has the knowledgeable team and resources to maintain and track records as well as replacement schedules to minimize if not eliminate the risk of data loss.  And you don’t have to worry about a thing!

What contributes to the breakdown of a hard drive?  As we learned in the previous ‘Life Cycle of a Hard Drive’ installment, hard drives have lots of moving parts.  As with any equipment with moving parts, heat, friction, and handling contribute to wear and tear.  We’ll elaborate more on these contributors in coming installments.

What do I do when 3-5 years rolls around?  Studies have shown that 80% of hard drives last four years.  At the three year mark you can begin to evaluate what kind of wear and tear your hard drive has had so far.  If it’s a laptop that gets tossed around a lot or a tower that gets moved and banged up, perhaps your hard drive has experienced a hard life that the hard drive in a tower that sits untouched with ideal ventilation.

Also consider what kind of data is the hard drive storing. Remember the more critical, the safer it is to just replace the drive whether it’s had an ideal lifestyle and is showing no signs of wear.

Better yet, have an IT partner, like us, who will not only track the age of the device but automatically schedule it for replacement.  This type of monitoring and rotation service drastically decreases risk and loss of data.

Why should I care about how old my hard drive is?  Again, from ‘What is a Hard Drive?’ we learned that the hard drive is the brain of the computer.  It stores critical data.  If your hard drive dies or breaks, all of that data it held goes with it and is often times unrecoverable.  Stay tuned for maintenance tips and data loss prevention methods.

 

What is “the cloud”?

July 6, 2017 by Area 51 Data Solutions

The cloud, or cloud computing, is for storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on or through your computer’s hard drive.  In the past, photos, files, music, etc. storage options were on physical hardware you could hold such as a floppy disk, CD, thumb drive, or hard drive.  Today, when you look at photos on Facebook, Flickr or access music on services like Pandora or movies through Netflix or Amazon, those items are not physically located on your computer, they are someplace else.  And that place is the cloud.  Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet.  Another example is Quickbooks Pro versus QuickBooks Online.  QuickBooks Pro you have to download to your computer and run and use it from there.  QuickBooks Online is solely online or in other words a cloud-based software.

 

More and more software applications are hosted on or run on Internet services.  For example, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Apple have servers or server farms.  For those services their servers are the cloud – that is where your media is actually stored.  Not on your computer.  Instead of using a personal computer to run an application each and every time, the application can be run from anywhere in the world.  The server, not your personal computer or device, provides the power to the application and allows access from anywhere.

 

What the cloud is not:

The cloud is not your hard drive.  Your computer’s hard drive is local storage.  Everything you need and using from it is close to you, there in your machine.

The cloud is also not a dedicated hardware server on site.  Storing data on a home or office network is not cloud computing.

 

But if even after this summary of basic information on the cloud you want to still picture the cloud as a bubble or fluffy cotton ball or hard drive in the sky, go right ahead.

 

Still have some questions about the cloud?  Wondering what’s so great about the cloud?  Stay tuned to our blog.  Or in the meantime, contact Area 51 Data Solutions to determine if the cloud is right for your business.

 

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