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Is Your Hard Drive Failing?

Updated: Jan 23, 2019

There are two main types of hard drives in a computer. To know if your hard drive is failing, it helps to know what type of drive you're operating with. The most common drive in computers is called a hard disk drive (or a mechanical drive). A hard disk drive has spinning platters in it and a read/write head. It works similarly to a record player when accessing data. On the rise to replacing many hard disk drives is the solid state hard drive. This is a drive with no moving parts- all the data is based off of flash memory, much like a flash drive.

Average life-span?

Hard disk drives: 2-3 years on average

Solid state drives: This is dependent on the read/write cycles, but their average lifespan is about 10-15 years.

What are the failure points of a hard drive? For a mechanical drive:

Because the read head and the motor are moving parts, they will eventually wear out and stop functioning. This is usually the case for failing drives. However, an important thing to keep in mind is that drives can be damaged by transporting your computer while it is still on or in sleep mode. This can potentially cause the read head to slap the platter, damaging it and making data unreadable. If you are ever moving your computer, it is vital that you either do a full shut-down or put your computer into "hibernation-mode"- not sleep mode.

For a solid state:

Overheating is what causes the most damage to solid states. As well as that, they are not drop resistant, but are definitely more durable that hard disk drives.

Keeping your drive in good health:

1. Again, do not transport your computer unless it has fully shut down or is in hibernation. For solid state drives, this is good to practice but it is not imperative, as there are no moving parts in the drive.

2. The less data you have on your drive, the less strain there is on the motors and the longer it will last. There's no set amount of space you should have free on your hard disk drive, but provisioning some space on it will extend it's lifespan. For solid state drives, its recommended to have about 50% of space on that drive available so that the data can move around as the cells start to weaken. Say there’s nowhere for that data to move- it’s 100% full, and a cell fails (which, granted, does take many years) then the data will become corrupt or unreadable.

3. Make sure you are keeping your computer in a spot where it is well ventilated (not on your bed all day). Overheating can destroy any type of hard drive's components.

Signs that your hard drive is failing:

If your system is running slower and slower, or if you hear clicking noises from the drive in your computer, those are sure signs that your hard drive could be failing.


We recommend having your hard drive tested by a professional at least once every two years. This ensures that if you are at risk of hard drive failure, you can transfer all of your data to a safer option before anything is lost. If this is something you would like us to do for you, then come by the shop anytime between 8am-6pm, Mon.-Fri. or call us if you have any questions at 855-728-6824.

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