The life and times of hard drives


I was recently altered to an interesting article about how long hard disks generally last. What it found was:

So, there you have it: If you buy a hard drive today, there’s a 90% chance that it will survive for three years. If your drive makes it to the three-year point, you would be wise to back up your data, as there’s a 12% chance per year that your drive will die.

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This refers to general workstation hard disks and does not delve into server hard disks or those used in external drives. One would expect server quality hard disks to have greater reliability and build quality and therefore last longer, while external drives probably survive less due to the greater amount of vibration they are subject to.

What it does illustrate is that you really need to be backing up your data because hard drives do fail. Correct technicians are still amazed at how often they need to recover a failed hard disk that contains information that wasn’t backed up. For most clients, their servers are well taken care of when it comes to backup but what about the desktops? What about those laptops that travel outside the business and may contain offline information that doesn’t reside on the server?

Part of the information policy within a business should be a very clear definition about where data is to be stored if it is to be backed up. This then needs to clearly communicated to staff so that important data is always saved and backed up. Creating this definition can be much more difficult that what it would appear to be at first glance, especially where remote computer and devices like phones and tablets are taken into consideration.

Beyond business data, what about your own personal data? Documents and especially photos reside on many people’s home machines but are never backed up. In the event of a hard disk failure there, how would you fair? There are plenty of free web based storage services that you can easily copy data to so that you at least have a copy somewhere.

Remember, hard disk failures are not a matter of ‘if’ they are a matter of ‘when’. If your machine is older than three years then according to the study there is a 12% chance every year going forward that your hard disk will fail. In short, make sure you backup is the take away here, both your business and personal information.