Hard-drive stability...long term data storage

How do you know when your HD is gonna kick the bucket?
Trust your SMART data analysis?
Back-up without fail once per week…to another HD or CD or DVD?

Whatever…here´s an expert study of the problem.

Please read it and tell us about your experiences and opinions…

basicly theres no way to truly know when a hard drive will go bad , some smart analysis software like hddhealth can predict failure date but thats quite far from accurate , the best solution is to backup to another hard drive (not to another partition on same hd thats just useless if it goes bad) or to a usb flash drive if its not alot of data , the chances that both storage devices will fail at same time are like 1 to a million , most ppl are simply too lazy to backup things manually , luckily there are alot of backup softwares that you simply set n forget much easier then doing things manually , i dont think once-per-week is enough daily is best, a quality psu is another important factor , cheap psus dont have any overvoltage protections so it can take your hard drive down if it will fail , also a good practice is not to put too much faith in a hard drive thats 3years old or higher as these are likely to fail after a while…, heat is another issue theres no clear proof but its believed that if youll keep your case well ventalized it will last longer

I back up most of my data on another hard drive that’s in another computer. I could also use an external drive.

The important irreplaceable data is also put on DVDs.

Normally I don’t back up more than once a month because I don’t generate enough important data to justify it.

I keep my drives fairly cool. I monitor their temperatures occasionally. Most run below 100 F. One of them gets up to 104 F sometimes. That should be good enough.

I run a hard drive diagnostic every couple of weeks. I check the SMART status, and I run the drive’s built-in self test. I’ve never had a drive die unexpectedly. The diagnostic tests have always warned me and given me plenty of time to save my data.

Western Digital has a diagnostic that runs under XP. I recommend it. Assuming it can access the SMART, it will run the drive’s built-in self test when you run the “quick” test. That’s all I do. Make sure the SMART status is good, and run the quick test.

Most external enclosures won’t allow access to SMART, and some PCI to IDE controllers won’t either. I avoid both.

Here’s WD’s diagnostic.

Seagate also has a good diagnostic that runs under XP, but they are in the process of upgrading it, and it isn’t available currently.

These diagnostics are useful with any drive, not just the ones made by them.

I didn’t read your link but Back-up Back-up it’s the only way to go. I have 4 HDD and DVD-RAM discs with most of my stuff on that i want to keep safe.

All drives die, always.

If you believe than and plan accordingly, it doesn’t matter when it goes.

That said, an external drive that’s switched off most of the time has a good chance of outliving you.

Well I don’t like unpleasant surprises. By running a diagnostic occasionally I’ve always been warned and been able to order a new drive and copy everything over.

The last time I even managed to “clone” the original XP install on the new drive. I would probably be as well off doing a clean install, but I did it mainly to see if I could.

Also when a drive goes bad it can be confusing. I think a lot of people waste their time trying to repair or re-install XP because they don’t realize the drive is bad. I’ll grant you there are DOS drive diagnostics that can and should be used for troubleshooting in this case, but most people don’t use those either.

No doubt true, but remember Murphy’s law. The drive might last 100 years or until the first time it is dropped, whichever comes first.

Some external drives don’t have adequate cooling. I always buy an external case with a fan and I measure the drive temperature. Without adequate cooling, a drive can get hot and the entire file system get corrupted. Ask me how I know :slight_smile:

Perhaps the point has been missed that the solution is a vigorous back-up scheme. With adequate backup, it doesn’t matter if or when a drive dies.