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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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