Bob Rankin: Hard Drive Maintenance Tips

February 22, 2011 by in Bob Rankin

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By Bob Rankin

Give Your Hard Drive a Tune-Up

Hard Drive Maintenance The hard drive is the hardest-working part of your computer, whether you own a desktop or laptop. The hard drive is also the part most vulnerable to performance degradation and even total breakdown, because it contains moving parts. So it is important to perform regular “tune ups” on your hard drive to keep it in top shape and extend its life. Here are some hard drive maintenance tips…

Start by providing a safe environment for your hard drive. Heat is the enemy of electronic components, and most computer cooling fans are aimed at CPU chips, not hard drives. If your desktop computer case is kept under a desk behind a closed door, make sure there are some holes in the top and bottom of the enclosure’s back wall to provide adequate cooling air circulation. Do not block the vents on the computer case. Every few months, open the case and blow out dust bunnies with a vacuum cleaner hose or a disposable can of compressed air. Temperature monitoring software such as SpeedFan monitors temperature sensors built into hard drives (and other components) to warn you if the drive is getting too hot.

Vibrations can affect the alignment of a hard drive’s delicate read/write head, causing errors and shortening the mechanism’s life. Avoid placing your computer near dishwashers, photocopiers, stereo speakers, and jackhammers. Don’t move a desktop computer while its hard drive is spinning.

The less a hard drive’s read/write head must move, the faster it will work and the longer it will last. Keep the data on the hard drive optimally organized by running defragmentation software regularly. Windows’ built-in defragmentation app is free and convenient, but it does not do as good a job as third-party defraggers. See my related article Disk Defraggers for my recommendations.

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3 Responses to Bob Rankin: Hard Drive Maintenance Tips

  1. Dave Ledbetter says:

    From what little I have read here I think someone ought to be able to tell me how I can delete (forever)a file that has become a nusance.

    Thanks for your help,
    Dave Ledbetter


  2. J. Powers says:

    You’re partly right Bob, it is also very important to do the original Windows Disk Defragment in order for it to organize your files and that helps to make it faster and smoother without the hard drive straining. Any other “Disk Defragger” is not recommended. Also, any air-flow tubing that is directly connected to the CPU heat sink and fan from the back of the casing must be removed to allow cool air circulation to cool down all internal parts and yes, that also includes the hard drive(s).
    Geez, you guys had been spamming me with your e-mails of your site and guess what, I am a computer technician as well. Alot of this stuff you guys talk about, I know all of this so well, considering on some things you suggest which I do not recommend.


  3. Dave says:

    I’m sorry, but as an I.T. professional who has been in the business since the days preceding CP/M, I must dismiss, as irrelevant, any article that presumes to discuss hard drive maintenance without mention of Steve Gibson’s Spin-Rite, which has been maintaining, recovering and repairing hard drives since the days of MFM and RLL drive configurations. Now in its 6th version, it remains my go-to tool when it comes to hard drive maintenance.

    Full disclosure: I have no relationship, monetary or otherwise, with Steve Gibson. That said, I’d recommend that everyone visit grc.com to see for themselves what kind of tools Steve has developed.


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