How long will my hard drive last.
This is a tough question; because up till now no one has done any true studies on the average life of a Hard Drive. Back in Nov 2013 there was a study done by Backblaze (a cloud storage company), which has had 45,000 disk drives running 24/7 for the past 5 years. Now they started 4 years ago keeping track of their drives, and noting when the drives failed.
So this was the first time anyone had done this and the outlook is quite positive, the past belief was that hard drives will fail by their fifth year, but in this study it is showing after four years 80% of the drives are running just fine, leaving 20% that failed by the third year. Of that 20%, 5% of those failed in the first year and a half. And after 4 years the percentage rate of failure rose steadily over the next years, with a rate of 12% per year but many of the drives are still functioning.
Now as of this post Backblaze has continued their record keeping and has a very large data base of all the data that they have acquired over the course of six years, which shows that many of the drives are still working fine, around 50%, Here is a clip of their data chart.
Why do hard drives fail?
The drives that fail early in their lives are normally due to manufactory defects, or as the saying goes (you got a lemon, or it was made on a Friday), The drives that fail after two years are usually related to random failure, due to poor environment like extreme dust, humidity, power spikes, and such. Now the ones that fail after four years are most likely due to components wearing out.
Which manufacture rates the best?
Well, back to the report from Backblaze, seeing that they use all type and models of hard drives and records their performance, I went back to them and sure enough they have an article on the best hard drives dated January 2015. Here is a graph on what they reported. You can check out their full report here at (blackblaze).
How can I tell if my hard drive is going to fail?
This is not always possible because some drives will just fail with no noticeable warnings, most of the time there will be some sort of warning signs that will give you a clue as to what state there in before they just up and quit. And if you recognize any of these then you can take action before it’s too late to save your data, better yet buy a new hard drive and use it to clone your original before it kicks the bucket.
If you would like to know how to Clone a hard drive I’ve got the answer for that, here on an article I did about how to Image or Clone your hard drive, go ahead and click here to learn more. Here is a list of the most common signs that will appear as the drive is wearing out and getting ready to put its foot in the grave.
- Missing data and disk errors: For instance you go to open a file and you get a message telling you that it does not exist, or you get an error message when you run the drive error checking.
- Strange noises: This would be a new unfamiliar noise coming from your computer, something like a whining, or grinding noise, and maybe even a chunking sound that you have never heard before.
- Your drive isn’t recognized: After your computer wakes up from sleep mode, or hibernation, and you get a message stating the drive is not recognized or doesn’t exist, so you restart your computer and everything’s oky doky till the next hibernation. (this is what happened to me the last time one failed)
- Computer crashes frequently: Out of the blue you’re working away at your Pc and poof, whatever program you where running crashes and you have to start all over.
- Accessing data is slow: Like when you open up your photo files and the little wheel just sits there and spins and spins for what seems like forever, when it use to just pop up in no time.
So if any of these should be taking place on your computer, it just might be time to invest in a new hard drive, and if you need help on installing one you can check out my article on how to assemble a computer where you will find the information to installing the hard drive. (It’s a piece of cake)
Here are some tools you can use to check your hard drive which will help locate some of these problems, but not all.
- Windows check disk: This is a utility built into windows which will scan your hard drive for any bad sectors that can cause your system to crash or lose data files, if found it will attempt to recover the bad sectors. You can locate this utility by opening File Explore and mouse over the rive you want checked and right click chose Properties, click on the Tools tab, then click Check Now, and follow instructions
- SeaTools: A free software tool by Seagate had drives that will run 4 different scans of your hard drive and show whether it passed or not, it also uses the S.M.A.R.T. Self Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. That comes with the hard drives to determine if there are any problems and will alert you if any showed up
- PassMark DiskCheckup: This software also takes advantage of the S.M.A.R.T attribute on the hard drive in checking its performance. DiskCheckup provides you with Device Info, Smart Info, Smart History, and Disk Self Test information about your hard drive, giving you an idea as to the health of your drive.
Even after running these utilities, and getting an all clear report, there is still a chance they won’t detect that your hard drive is about to fail, so if you are hearing any strange noise (grumbling, whining, chunking) coming from your hard drive, it would be best to get a new drive, and like I mentioned above and do a clone of your drive before it dies. Now this is by all means not a substitute to Backing up your files on a regular base, and if you’re not doing this, might I suggest that you visit my post on Backing up Your Files and learning ways to set up a schedule of doing this, it also covers where to store your backups.
So, What is the average life of a Hard Drive?
Well as you can see there is no definite time as to how long you’re hard drive will last, but in most cases it shouldn’t have any problem lasting up to 5 years and most likely more. Too be on the safe side thou, as you approach the fifth year it would be a good Idea to pay attention to the noises coming from your computer, and running any or all of the programs that we went over above periodically if you begin to suspect that something might be going wrong with your drive.
It pays to be safe! I hope this has answered any question that you had about your hard drive and if you have further question please leave them below and I will get back to you the following day. And by all means if you want to leave a comment on your experience with hard drives, I would love to hear them.
If you did find this helpful why not share this article with your friends and family, thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day computing at home, or on the go. 🙂