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Hard drive crash prevention and recovery tips

February 10, 2006 11:59 AM EST | Hardware | Email to Friend

The hard drive in our computers right now stores all of our data, and our computer could not function without it. There would be no World Wide Web, email or even an operating system without hard drives. Since hard drives are so important, a hard drive crash is without a doubt the biggest problem that someone could face on their computer.

Hard drive crashes can happen for many reasons, and usually the owner is not to blame. One reason your hard drive can crash is because of a hard ware problem. See your hard drive is a magnetic disc that spins and has an extended arm hovering over it, to access any area, and collect the data. If the motor overheats and stops spinning or the arm fails to function, then your hard drive will crash and not be accessible at all.

Another way for your hard drive to crash is from corrupt system files, registry files and viruses. Viruses come in many forms as spy ware, ad ware, in emails and many other places all over the web. I recommend a good virus protection program from McAfee or Norton to stop those viruses and prevent your hard drive from crashing.

Now let’s say your hard drive has crashed, how do you determine the problem and can it be fixed? Well determining whether the hard drive crash is mechanical of software related is actually pretty easy. The flashing light on front of your computer case, that blinks when the computer is busy, is a good tool to determine the problem. If you see the LED light flashing, but the computer will not boot up, then most likely it is a software related problem, which means an operating system glitch or a virus of some sort. Lucky for you this usually can be fixed and all of your files can be saved, but I recommend only letting a professional try and fix it since the average person might find it to difficult unless they have experience in formatting hard drives.

Worst case scenario is if you don’t see the LED light flashing in the front of your computer case, this means your hard drive has not activity which basically means it is a mechanical problem. A mechanical problem in your hard drive can be fixed, but I imagine it is pretty expensive. It is cheaper to get a new hard drive then to fix it, but of course if you have important data stored on the broken hard drive that you must get back, then you really have no choice but to have a professional fix it. You local computer store should have the expertise to repair it, but if not just ask them who can.

I should point out also though, that advanced hardware and software standards in today’s hard drives tell you when your drive is about to crash and gives you time to back up your important files.

Overall, the best way to stop your hard drive from crashing is to not neglect it and take care of it. The most important care tip is to make sure you defragment your hard drive at least once a month. Your operating system should come with a defragmenting program that is easy to use. Performing a defragment on your hard drive basically takes your data and organizes it into more convenient places so that the mechanical arm can access data faster and with the least amount of movement.

Another way to protect your hard drive from crashes is to purchase a good virus scanner, preferably by McAfee or Norton, and keep protection tools enabled and perform a full system scan of every file on your hard drive once a month.

Some other minor precautions that you can take are to enforce a SPAM guard on your emails and delete your temporary internet files every once in awhile. You should also keep your operating system up to date by downloading updates for it as soon as they come out. Windows makes this easy, but I am not sure how easy other operating systems make this or if they even provide this option.

If you are a person who downloads a lot of files from the internet, then you need to exercise caution in what you choose to download, as hard drive crashes are commonly associated with faulty software from unknown sources on the net.

Of course the best way to save you a headache if a hard drive crash happens is to back up your data regularly. Data loss is the reason a hard drive crash is so hurtful, so if you back up your data daily or whenever you work on it, then if a crash happens you will have no sweat on your back. I recommend you save your files to a rewritable CD/DVD or floppy disc as soon as you get done working on it, especially if the data is business related.

Michael Cottier has upgraded and repaired hard drives for many years. Learn from his experience and do it yourself at: http://www.computer-customizing-guide.com/hard-drive-upgrade.html

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