Hard drives are the most widely used data storage devices in desktops, laptops, servers, etc. They are affordable, readily available, offer increased storage capacity, and are end-user replaceable. Also, compared to SSDs, hard drives offer a longer lifespan, but with many caveats.
Steps to Increase Hard Drive Life and Health
Here are some steps that can help you increase the life of the Hard Drives on your computer:
1. Run the Check Disk Scan (CHKDSK)
After a certain period of use, your hard drive will inevitably have errors such as partition table, file system errors, hardware or software problems, etc. These HDD errors consequently lead to a decrease in HDD life and data loss.
However, with a regular “chkdsk” scan, you can correct most disk errors and improve hard disk life. Furthermore, this command also recovers readable information from bad sectors and reassigns them as well as fixes cross-linked files.
Follow the steps below to run the CHKDSK scan and fix the drive errors for longer hard drive life:
- Press Windows+S and type Command Prompt
- Right-click on Command Prompt and choose ‘Run as administrator.’
- Type chkdsk X: /r /f
Replace letter X with your hard drive letter and press the ‘Enter’ key
- Now it will start to scan – Check Disk (chkdsk) then perform scanning the drive and show the error message if any.
- After scanning, you will see the chkdsk analysis report. It will display the details of the scan and complete the analysis process if the drive hasn’t found any error.
But if the drive has some logical errors like bad sectors, then after completing the scan it will correct the hard drive error and reboot the system or ask if you want to schedule the drive to be checked the next time you reboot the system.
2. Perform defragmentation
Over time, your Hard Disk Drive becomes fragmented with data, causing it to run slower, harder, and less proficient. Fragmentation significantly deteriorates the health of your hard drive, as new data is stored in chunks that cause massive movement of the read head and increase the spin speed of the disk, leading to more wear and tear in addition to overheating, one of the main causes of unit failure.
Therefore, it is necessary that you defragment your hard drive from time to time to improve the overall health of your hard drive. To do so, follow the steps below and configure your Windows system to defragment the hard drive automatically, either once a week or every month:
- Press Windows+S and type Defragment.
- Click ‘Defragment and Optimize Drives’ to open the disk optimization tool.
Alternatively, you can right-click on the drive volume within File Explorer and go to Properties>Tools tab, and click ‘Optimize.’
- Select the hard drive and click ‘Analyze’
- Check the percentage of fragmented files
- Click ‘Optimize,’ If the disk is more 20% or more fragmented
After completing the process, the drive will show – 0% fragmented in the Optimize Drives utility.
3. Avoid overheating and protect it from dust and moisture
Both overheating and exposure to dust can cause the hard drive to malfunction, shortening the life of the hard drive. Therefore, you must adopt ways to prevent overheating and reduce exposure to dust and moisture.
To deal with the problem of overheating, you can go for cooling techniques or avoid long and excessive use of your hard drive that leads to overheating. Also, keep adequate space between multiple drives in your PC case or server rack for adequate ventilation.
To get rid of dust, routinely clean your hard drive and case with a microfiber cloth and brush. Always store your servers and external hard drives in a cool, dry place, away from moisture.
4. “Ground” your system properly
The internal components and peripherals of the computer are very sensitive to static electricity. Before plugging in your PC or server power supply, make sure the power outlet is properly grounded. A static discharge can damage your internal or external hard drive and other PC components. Also, avoid touching PC hardware, such as hard drives, with your bare hands. In case you need to, wear a grounding strap before touching any hardware in your system. Alternatively, you can touch any grounded metal part, such as copper, iron, or power supply unit (PSU) screws, that are grounded (i.e. touching / grounded).
5. Use of surge protectors
A sudden power outage and power surge can be extremely damaging to your system’s hard drive. A power outage occurs primarily when you force a system to shut down or unplug the unit while it is rotating or in use. This can also occur if the system fails due to some software or hardware failure. This unexpected power loss can lead to file system errors and mechanical failures on older hard drives where the actuator head gets stuck on the platter.
Similarly, a power surge can fry PC components, including the hard drive. Use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit to avoid sudden system shutdown. Always eject the external drive safely before unplugging it to avoid disk errors and increase the health of a hard drive. Not only does a UPS keep your system on after a power outage, but it also protects you from voltage fluctuations and surges.
6. Delete temporary files
The Windows operating system creates various temporary files even during normal operation. Although you can delete these files using Windows built-in tools and clean your hard drive, some of them, such as file fragments, memory dumps, browser cache, cookies, registry files, recycle bin, etc., are left behind. and they keep adding.
In such cases, you should try a third-party disk cleaning application to automatically remove accumulated temporary files and increase the storage space on your hard disk.
You can also delete temporary files with Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup utility by following these steps:
- Press Windows+S and type Disk Cleanup
- Click ‘Disk Cleanup’ and choose C: drive volume
Alternatively, you can right-click on C: drive or any other drive volume and choose Properties>General and click the ‘Disk Cleanup’ button
- Click OK
- Scroll down in the files to delete the list, and then select Temporary Files
- Click ‘OK,’ and then click ‘Yes’ to confirm the deletion