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All of your data resides on a hard drive.

All hard drives fail.

Typically, I tell people that the average hard drive of today lasts between 3 and 5 years. A large range, no doubt.

How soon that drive fails depends on a lot of factors including:

  • the amount of time that the drive is spinning / in use: always on = always working
  • how hard you are using your system: massive data in / out = working harder
  • the environment in which the drive is operating: hot & humid = bad
  • stationary desktop vs. mobile laptop: laptops have a higher probability of experiencing a drop or an impact
Why Buy a Good Drive?

When buying a new drive, do not go cheap. Hard drives hold all of your personal and business data and are not to be stinted on.

Buying a good drive ensures:

  • a reliable computing experience
  • significantly lowered chance of data corruption
  • a longer life span of your computer
  • improved return on investment through operational stability and longevity

See our buying guide for more information.

A good Western Digital Caviar Black or Enterprise drive comes with a 5 year warranty and you should expect to see that sort of life span.

The Bad News

However, that’s [probably] not what your computer came with from the factory.

In all likelihood, your computer came with a drive that is manufactured to last exactly the span of the warranty on the computer.

That Toshiba laptop that you were thrilled to get at a discount price of $300 just pooped out on you exactly 1 year and a day after purchase.

You are out of warranty and out of luck.

I dearly hope you’ve followed our advice and backed up your data.

“Hey wait!”, you say. “That’s not true. I have a drive that is 10 years old and going steady.”

Yup, you’re right. That’s because it was manufactured 10 years ago when companies weren’t cutting corners to squeeze every last dime out of the profit margin and hadn’t perfected the art of planned obsolescence.

By and large, the two biggest culprits we see in our repair shop are HP and Toshiba laptops.

Your Toshiba of today typically lasts 2 years.

Your HP, well, if you get to 1.5 years, you’re doing great.

“Hey, no biggie. I’ll just go get a new system. Why would I repair my system when I could just buy a new one for not much more.”

Not a bad argument. Except, you are likely to make the same mistake again, and hunt for the cheapest system you can find. Which will only land you back in the same spot a year from now. Not to comment on the incredibly wasteful environmental implications, there are new ramifications to this practice as it pertains to the new Office 2013, which lives and dies with the system it is installed on.

You may encounter hidden costs that you hadn’t planned on.

How to Tell When Your Hard Drive is Going to Fail

There ARE some warning signs, and if you are astute to the health of your computer you MAY be able to catch a failure before it happens.

I cannot emphasis enough, backup your data. When the day comes that your computer won’t turn on, you can move forward onto Plan B without the added stress of worrying about data recovery costs and / or potentially losing all your data.

Talk to us about how to preemptively replace your hard drive with a new, long life drive, without losing any of your data, your programs, or your settings.

Should you have a failed hard drive and you do not have any backups in place, talk to us about data recovery options.

Here are some helpful articles that essentially say what I was going to write.

Most of the components in your computer are electronic devices. They don’t fail with time like a mechanical device such as a car. But your hard drive is one of the few mechanical devices used in modern computing, and as such, it’s destined to die eventually.

It’s important to learn to recognize the warning signs of an imminent hard drive failure, since you might not have the budget for an extensive back-up system, so you can rescue all that data before it’s lost—sometimes forever, not retrievable at any cost.

— LifeHack

Full article:

In the best of cases, hard drives fail gradually, giving you the chance to react, get a copy of your data, and replace the storage device before facing a fatal failure. There are a host of signs that hint to a gradual failure of your hard drive. If you are unsure how much life is left on your hard drive, read this article to find out what signs may reveal an approaching failure.

— Tina Sieber

Full article:

And of course,

A hard disk drive failure occurs when a hard disk drive malfunctions and the stored information cannot be accessed with a properly configured computer. A disk failure may occur in the course of normal operation, or due to an external factor such as exposure to fire or water or high magnetic waves, or suffering a sharp impact or environmental contamination, which can lead to a head crash.

— Wikipedia

Full article: