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4 Tips for Keeping Your Hard Drives Safe in the Winter

Hard drives and electronics require special care in colder climates, but don't go wrapping them up in your scarves just yet


In order to keep your hard drives safe, you need to make sure to operate them in an appropriate, temperature-controlled environment. This can be difficult during the winter, particularly if you run a large number of computers in a commercial facility, basement or other area where temperatures vary with the seasons.

By understanding the potential dangers associated with seasonal weather, you can prevent data loss and keep your media operating for years to come. This winter, keep the following tips in mind.

1. Hard Drives Need to Operate at Room Temperature. All hard drives spin at high speeds and use extremely location-specific read/write heads to access data. Major temperature fluctuations can cause a hard drive's components to expand and contract, causing data issues.

You may not need to worry about temperature adjustments if you leave your computers running constantly since the heat of operation will maintain an acceptable approximation of room temperature. However, you should always monitor your systems' operating temperatures via onboard utilities.

If you cannot easily control the temperature of a larger room, consider placing small heaters in the room. You should never point heating units directly at computers or servers.

2. Allow Hard Drives to Adjust to New Environments. If you leave your laptop in the car overnight or you leave a number of computers in a cold, unheated room for several hours, you should allow your devices to sit in the warm air for an hour or two before you start them up. This decreases the risk of heat-related data loss issues substantially. Never operate a hard drive that is cold to the touch.

3. Ground Yourself Before Touching Hard Drives. Even if you live in a relatively warm environment, you might not see much rain during the winter. Humidity levels are typically low during the first few months of a year, and low humidity levels mean a high chance of electrostatic discharge.

If you touch a hard drive without grounding yourself, you can permanently damage its electronics. Before opening a computer or removing any components, touch a metal component of the PC besides the power supply. Disconnect the power supply before working on the PC. Note that you can still build up a static charge after discharging static; you should never work on a PC in a carpeted area for this reason.

Ideally, you should keep yourself grounded for the entire time that you work with your computer. You can buy inexpensive grounding straps to keep you grounded while you work with electronic equipment, and most straps are extremely safe and easy to use.

Grounding is always important, but because the chances of electrostatic discharge are significantly higher during the winter, grounding is especially important during this time of the year.

4. Back Up All Important Data. This is more of a general tip for keeping your data safe during any season, but we see a large number of cases from clients across the country during the winter partially because people stop following their regular backup habits.

Use online data backup software or some other automatic to protect your personal data. Make sure that your business follows strict protocols when backing up critical files. Keep at least three to five copies of all important data and check your backups regularly.

If your hard drive fails, immediately contact a professional data recovery company. Secure Data Recovery Services offers excellent, reliable services through offices across the country. Call us at 1-800-388-1266 for more information or to set up a free data recovery evaluation.

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