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Article 1 - Hard drive failure, the facts.

I am always amazed at highly intelligent people that don't appreciate the benefits of backing up their computers. I am just going to lay out the facts so you decide if you are vulnerable to a hard drive failure or not?

Stuff you need to know before continuing with this article. - A hard disc or hard drive is an internal component within a computer where all your personal data, application programs and the operating system permanently resides. If it fails then you computer won't start up and you could lose everything.

FACT : Most desktop computers have a rotational hard drive installed that spins at a rate of 7200 rpm (or 5400 rpm for laptops). That’s 432000 revs per hour, 10368000 revs per day and 72576000 per week.

FACT : All that spinning generates heat. Heat is a computers enemy, particularly if the computer is located in a confined space. A computer wants to draw in cool air, pass it over its hot components and then expels as warmer air. Unless that warmer air isn’t given a chance to dissipate due to a lack of circulation, it will get pulled back into the computer and after a short period of time, the computer will overheat. It may start shutting down and if allowed to continue unchecked components will start to fail, one of which may be the hard drive.

FACT : There was a study of 250,000 hard drives* that concluded in 2013 that over 5% of new hard drives fail in the first 18 months and only 78% of hard drives lived longer than 4 years.

But aren’t most hard drives covered by a manufacturers warranty? True, most hard drives are sold with at least one year's manufacturers warranty. This means that should the hard drive fail as a result of a failure of manufacture of materials the supplier will replace the drive. It does not mean that they will spend hours and hours attempting to recover your data for free. It also doesn't mean that you are entitled to keep your failed hard drive should you claim a warranty replacement. The repairer is perfectly entitled to keep your failed hard (with your data on it) so they, in turn, can re-claim any warranty from the manufacturer.

OK, so the drive has failed and you want to explore the data recovery route, how much will it cost? My advice would be to get an expert involved at the earliest opportunity, I have seen too many “have a go heroes” attempt a data recovery or dither hoping this will get better and as a result has made the situation a whole lot worse. About a third of the data recovery attempts result in near complete recovery of the data and folder structure. A further third result in the client getting their data back but without the file names and folder structure. Should an IT consultant or support company not be able to recover your data then you are looking at a minimum of £400.00 to attempt your data recovery via a specialist company.

Hopefully, if you have reached this point in my article you are probably beginning to think that a £50.00 purchase of an external hard drive may be a prudent investment. If still not convinced ask yourself these questions…”how long will it take and cost you to recreate the data on your hard drive”. More than £50.00?

The minimum backup solution for one Mac would be an external hard drive (£50), optionally a copy of a commercial backup program (£30) and half an hours remote consultancy (£40).

In this next article in this series, I ask "whose responsibility is it to backup?"

* https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-long-do-disk-drives-last/ 14th November 2013.