I would guess that out of all the hardware in a computer, hard drive failures are what we come across the most. We have replaced countless hard drives during our 10+ years of working with computers.

SO… Why do Hard Drives Fail?

Hard drives are mechanical and all mechanical devices have a lifetime. Hard disk drives fail for a number of reasons, ranging from physical damage, hardware life expectancy to human error. The most common reason a hard drive fails is from vibrations or dropping the computer while in use, but a crash can occur at anytime without warning by the mechanical failure of the moving components inside the drive.

How Long Will My Hard Drive Last?

Can you guess how long a hard drive life expectancy is? The average life span of a hard drive is only five years with some lasting 10 years and some only 10 minutes. But the average lifespan is a lot shorter than you were expecting right? And the older the drive gets and the more you use your computer, the more likely the drive will fail.

We store so many irreplaceable items on our computers and unfortunately many of us do not have a plan if things go wrong.

Come up with an emergency plan

Backup! Backup! Backup! I cannot emphasize this enough. Get an external hard drive. Windows 10 makes it easier than ever to keep copies of all your files automatically. You never should have to do a manual backup ever. All you have to do is set it up once and let the computer do the work for you. Every once in awhile, you should check on the health of your backup drive to ensure it’s doing it’s job.

Have a plan for reinstalling important programs. Make sure that you have all your product keys/CDs and installation files in a safe and accessible place. Microsoft Office costs $149. You do not want to have to buy it again because of a misplaced product key. If you already have lost your product key, you can use a keyfinder program to find common products keys such as MS Office. Magic Jelly Bean Keyfinder is what we use.

Take Advantage of Google Chrome. If you have a Google account and sync it with Google Chrome will automatically backup your bookmarks, saved passwords, browsing history, payment methods and auto-fills.. so you can pick up where you left off immediately.  If you do not use Chrome or do not have chrome store your passwords, keep a good record of your passwords. You will be asked for them again once you replace your hard drive.

Know the signs of a failing drive. There are numerous subtle signs that your hard drive might be failing. Watch out if your computer is slowing down, frequently freezes, or displays a warning for corrupted data or bad sectors. Listen for strange clicking or grinding noises coming from your hard drive. If you think your hard drive is failing, make sure to power off your hard drive to avoid further damage.

Final thoughts…

Although not immune to failures, a Solid State Hard Drive is more reliable than a traditional hard drive. It might be worth investing in this upgrade to prevent future technological catastrophes.