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Silent Killers of Hard Drives: What to Watch Out For

Hard drive failure can be one of the most frustrating experiences that a computer user experiences.


Of all of the computer problems that can occur, the one that makes a computer user feel the most helpless is a hard drive crash. Over the years, hard drives have become more durable and able to withstand punishment. But there are still things out there that can cause your computer drives to crash and threaten all of your information. Here are the top five hard drive killers - and they may not be what you expected.

5. Physical Computer Damage

It may not be surprising that damage to a computer made the list, but it may be surprising at how low on the list it is. When your computer gets dropped, there are several components that can be damaged. Your motherboard could crack, or your memory could become dislodged from its slot. Your hard drive can also get knocked around to the point where it is no longer accessible by conventional means, but your data can still be retrieved by a professional. Be careful when moving your computers, and don't put them in places where they can be kicked or damaged.

4. Spilled Liquids

A liquid spilled directly on one of your hard drives will short it out and damage it permanently. Fortunately, a hard drive is pretty well protected in your computer case, and getting liquids on it can be a challenge. The smartest way to avoid this kind of damage is to keep liquids far away from your computer. Soda and bottled water offer the same threat to your hard drive, so keep them all as far away as possible.

3. Power Spikes Or Surges

A power surge is one of those computer problems that can happen suddenly and unexpectedly. If your hard drive is hit with a surge, then it will be unable to write or read data from its platters. In worst case scenarios, the drive is completely burned out and the platters have to be accessed by a data recovery professional. You need to put your computer on a good surge protector and make sure that the surge protector is plugged directly into the wall. Do not plug one surge protector into another, as that will diminish each protector's ability to suppress surges. You can also buy surge protectors that offer insurance against power spikes or surges and get your computer replaced if the surge protector does not do its job.

2. Corrupted Files

Viruses can corrupt files on your computer drives and can spread through the rest of your files until your hard drives are destroyed. Corrupted files are damaged sectors of your hard drive that cannot be recovered. You can get them from a virus, turning off your computer without properly shutting it down, or downloading a file that is already corrupted. You can prevent corruption by having a good anti-virus program on your computer and always shutting your computer down properly. But you could get a corrupted file from someone you trust and neither of you would know it. The best way to protect yourself is to back up your data regularly in case your drive gets corrupted.

1. Overheating

You thought this was going to be magnets, didn't you? Magnets do not pose nearly the threat to your hard drive that they used to. It would take a very strong magnet to damage your hard drive in any significant way. But an overheated hard drive will melt like an ice cube in the sun. When you smell the smoke, then you know your hard drive is done. The way to prevent your computer from overheating is to put it in an open space and keep the vents clear of debris. It also helps to put a fan on your computer during the warmer weather if your room is not air-conditioned.

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