How Disk Drives Fail

Understanding Disk Drives and Drive Failures

diskdriveIt is really amazing to think about how much disk drive storage capacity and reliability has improved in just a few short years. Just a decade ago, disk drives had a low capacity that could be measured in kilobytes, and you might have almost expected them to fail frequently. Worse yet, data backup methods were not as quick and convenient as they are today.

Disk drives and even entire computers have gotten a lot cheaper and better. Most people can do work with their computers that pays of the cost of the machine very quickly. In fact, the average person keeps data stored on the disk drive of their home computer that is worth many times the price of the machine.

Additionally backup options are pretty simple and inexpensive. Some are even free. Many new computers come with cloud storage from the manufacturer of the operating system – like Sky Drive from Microsoft. External drives are not that expensive, and flash drives are fairly cheap. With so many backup options available, it is a wonder that many people and even businesses get caught out when there is a disk drive failure.

However, disk drive failures do happen. In fact, the failure of common disk drives that are installed with every personal computer is probably the most common reason for data loss. The second most common reason might be the failure of the actual computer that is connected to the disk drive. Hacking does ruin lots of data these days, but criminals may not be as responsible for as much data life as simple malfunctions.

Disk drives are made up of platters that have magnetic medium coated on the top. Data gets stored in the magnetic medium. The platters spin, and they also have a read/write head that travels quickly over the top of the magnetic medium. Finally, disk drives have a controller unit that runs the device, and they also have a small motor that spins the platter.

Even though these devices seem fairly simple, there are a lot of parts that can fail. Sometimes they do fail. Typically, they are replaced and not repaired. But a data recovery specialist can usually recover lost data. This data gets moved to another device.

Disk drive failure is not the only reason that data gets lost. The drive might function perfectly well, but the actual computer’s operating system or physical systems could also fail. This simply means that the computer has lost the ability to communicate with the functional disk drive.

The point is that there are many reasons that you could lose your data on a disk drive. It might only cost you a few hundred dollars to replace your entire computer, and that includes the disk drive. But your lost data could be worth quite a bit more.

If you simply use a PC around your home, you might have lost tax and other financial documents, schoolwork, software, and pictures. If you have a business computer, you could have lost important account and customer records, and that loss could damage your entire business.

However, most of these situations can be addressed by a specialist. If your actual disk drive has failed, data recovery specialists have special machines that are capable of reading broken drives in many cases. If your actual computer has failed, a specialist can take out your drive and read it with another computer.

If you are not familiar with the way that disk drives work, it would be better if you did not attempt recovery yourself. You might cause more damage than you had in the first place. The modest investment that you will make in getting your important data back will be likely to save you lots of money and frustration in the future.

If you do lose data because of a hard drive or computer failure, a good data recovery specialist should also be able to consult with you on different ways to avoid loss in the future. In fact, you might want to consult with one of these professionals before you ever lose any data at all. When it comes to storing valuable information and software on disk drives, it is always better to be prepared.

All drives fail eventually, but you can relax when you know that your important information, software, photos, and videos have been properly backed up. The cost of this backup is also fairly inexpensive, and sometimes even free, when compared with the cost of losing it.

At the first sign of trouble, you should get help from a professional data recovery specialist. In the future, perhaps you will find one of these specialists to help you secure your data in the first place. However, don’t panic if you cannot access your drive — simply call for help as soon as possible.


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