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The click of death

We are starting to see a lot of dead hard drives at my PC Techs over the past several months. I think a lot of this has to due with the rapid expansion of storage capacity over the past several years. All of this growth has put a strain on the industry to maintain quality in manufacturing. Here’s a good article that speaks to the growth and another that touches upon reasons for hard drive failure.

When a hard drive dies, several factors determine whether or not you can recover your data at a reasonable price. The most important factor of course is the extent to which your hard drive is damaged. In many cases, if the hard drive is not yet completely disabled, the data can be recovered and backed up to another system within hours on the same day. This is done without expensive equipment by an experienced computer tech with the right software and know-how. Even using this low cost method, however, could set you back several hundreds of dollars. It is a time consuming process to recover data from a damaged drive.

In cases where a hard drive has experienced complete failure or is more severely damaged, there is little that anyone can do but send the drive to a specialized clean room facility. This is an unfortunate situation, as clean-room facility data recovery typically begins at $1800 and up.

Ultimately, you want to do everything you can to protect your valuable information from loss and prevent either of the scenarious above. The good news: There’s plenty you can do in advance before a hard-drive fails to protect yourself.

First and foremost, manufacturer and brand of drive is very important. If you’re buying a pre-configured system (such as one from Dell), you may not have a lot of choice over the manufacturer and brand of the hard drive that comes with your computer. However, if you’re building your own computer or if you’re buying a replacement system, look for hard drive manufacturers who have a track record of reliability and a drive brand that has high ratings. I have always preferred Western Digital hard drives above all others in the market for this very reason. Through hundreds of hard drive recoveries I can tell you that Western Digital has the lowest failure rate of all other manufactueres that I’ve seen.

Second, no matter what hard drive you do have, realize that every drive WILL fail at some point. It may be in a month, it may be in a decade. Eventually, the drive will quit and at that point you’ll want to be sure you have a good backup of your information on hand. my PC Techs can help you establish a backup plan that will protect your data against loss regardless of what happens. Our typical plan will account for all types of possible disasters, such as fire, flood, viruses and/or hard drive failure. From all of your purchased iTunes music, to invaluable pictures of family and friends, and other personal data, it’s difficult to count the value of the information on any individual computer. You owe it to yourself to spend a little bit now, not only to protect your information, but to save yourself from thousands of dollars later if you ever need to get it back and you don’t have a backup on hand.

Finally, keeping an eye and ear on your computer system can help tremendously in preventing catastrophic failure. In almost every single instance, a hard drive that’s failing will give you warning signs before it eventually goes for good. The first place you can look is in the system event logs. As a hard drive begins to quit, the event log will list data read and write errors that will warn you that something bad is about to happen. The second warning sign might come from the hard drive itself. If you hear a clicking noise in your computer, it could be a sign that the hard drive is on it’s last leg. A loud clicking sound coming from your hard drive is a warning to you that you should immediately consult an expert to transition your data over to a new hard drive before it’s lost for good.

Following these few simple steps can be a life saver, literally, as more and more of our life information is stored on our computer systems. If you have any concerns or questions about theh state of your hard drive, establishing a backup plan, or data recovery and data transfer, please contact a specialist today at my PC Techs. We’re happy to answer your questions and provide help.

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