In this guide we will show you how to get the most life possible out of your hard drive.  All hard drives will inevitably go bad; we have seen them last for 10+ years and we have seen them dead on arrival. So, what factors play into the life of a hard drive? We will introduce you related knowledge in two articles.

The Most Common Causes

Other than simply getting lucky with the hard drive you order, the most commonly accepted causes for early hard drive failure are heat and physical trauma. These two factors are particularly hard to mitigate in laptops, but following these guidelines will help you get some extra life out of your hard drive.

Desktop cooling: Installing fans in your desktop computer is relatively simple and can vastly improve the longevity of your hard drives (as well as every other component in your system). Be sure that the air coming into your system has an easy escape route as well. The longer it lingers in there, the less efficient your system is at keeping itself cool. Nearly all custom PC cases come with spare fan slots in the front of the case, right in front of the hard drive slots. Be sure to maximize your hardware’s life by utilizing these fan slots so cool air can enter the system constantly.

Example of a desktop with fans in front of the hard drives, bringing in cold air:


Laptop cooling: Laptops are a bit more difficult to keep cool, but this is possible if you invest in an active laptop cooler. You may lose some of the convenience of your laptop, but it can be well worth it if it allows you to save the time, money, and files you are going to lose when the hard drive goes bad. We are going to talk more about hard drive temperatures and how to monitor them in the next section, so you may want to get a feel for how hot your laptop runs before deciding to commit to a laptop cooler.

Example of a laptop cooler, as seen on


Desktop physical trauma: The bigger 3.5″ hard drives built for desktops are more fragile than the smaller ones that are built for laptops. However, avoiding physical trauma to your desktop’s hard drives is simple. First, make sure the hard drives are screwed in firmly. A hard drive consists of moving parts and it will jostle around in place if it isn’t secured properly. Don’t make them too tight in case you need to remove the hard drive later, but you definitely want them to be snug.

Secondly, desktop hard drives should only be moved minimally. Shaking them or dropping can result in a useless drive very quickly. It’s best to put them in your computer and just leave them alone. Note: It’s not that you have to treat them like gold, but avoid moving them when at all possible.

Laptop physical trauma: Laptops by their very nature are built to take some abuse. However, laptop hard drives can still break easily, so take extra care when toting your laptop around or setting it down on a desk somewhere. When closing your laptop and letting it fall asleep, wait a few seconds for your hard drive to finishing spinning down. Hard drives are much more resistant to movement damage when they’re not spinning. Avoid transporting a laptop when the hard drive is still spinning, and wait until the transition to sleep mode is complete before packing up your laptop.(To be continued)

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