By Bob Rankin
Give Your Hard Drive a Tune-Up
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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