Storage forum


When is it safe to rely on a new hard drive?

by Majorb42 / October 15, 2013 10:53 PM PDT

I have been told that a hard drive is most likely to crash within a few weeks of purchase.

I recently bought an external hard drive, and backed up all of my files to it. I plan to reformat my computer. How long should I wait before doing so?

I assume that the hard drive should not be sitting in the box while I wait. Is it enough to plug it into my computer, or should I regularly move files in and out of it?

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All Answers

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I can't find where your backups are.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 15, 2013 11:03 PM PDT

Since any drive or such can fail without much notice or one of the more common issues come up (accidental delete) I don't see where you have your 2 copies of what you can't lose.

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(NT) Should I buy a second external drive?
by Majorb42 / October 15, 2013 11:09 PM PDT
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Or more.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 16, 2013 3:13 AM PDT

Here at home I have a pair of externals that I sync with along with some giant (?) 32GB microSD that holds yet another copy of the photos from the past decades and finally a copy of those and more on some USB memory sticks.

You want your backups "Hard To Kill."

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If if you have a desktop, why not add an internal HDD as
by VAPCMD / October 16, 2013 10:04 AM PDT

your first backup ?


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Two comments
by wpgwpg / October 16, 2013 3:32 AM PDT

First you NEVER want to just have a single copy of anything you don't want to lose. Listen to what Bob says about that - he knows of what he speaks! We all know that anything with moving parts will one day wear out. Secondly hard drives seldom fail when new, much more often they fail after a few years when on average the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) has been reached. The MTBF is known by the manufacturer and varies with the brand and type you buy, usually in correlation with the price. You may have to do some digging to find the MTBF, but it's easy to find the warranty info. E.g. as a general rule, a drive with a 1 year warranty is likely to fail sooner than one with a 5 year one. Just bear in mind that we're talking about AVERAGES here. YMMV.
Good luck.

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Copies and more copies of data
by Willy / October 16, 2013 11:44 PM PDT

You have anything you want to be saved or "retrieved" at a latter date then have access to multiple copies of same data to be safe as possible. Anything you deem critical should always be backed up to several media sources of any type you like. However, SUPER CRITICAL data should be saved to discs, as many as it takes. if you have that much data to save, then yet another ext. HD can't be dismissed depending on your wallet. It's far cheaper in this regard than trying to retrieve from a single failed media source using some data service or s/w, if at all and time involved.

tada -----Willy Happy

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When is it safe to rely on a new hard drive?
by pauly1651 / October 18, 2013 1:33 PM PDT

Nothing is 100 percent safe, all the time, Drives do fail, and disks can fail or get damaged etc.
The thing that I do with all my personal stuff is back it up on multiple places. I have 3 back up drives, and some stuff is on disks as well. If one drive fails or is showing signs of failure, then your stuff is safe on another drive.
If you have just bought a new hard drive, then hook it up and let it run for a few hours or days, and if it seems OK, than start writing stuff to it. What else do you expect to do with it?

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Run it in, and 'anything is likely to fail eventually'
by neher5 / October 18, 2013 5:41 PM PDT

Run it in, for only a small percentage of any mass-manufactured components is tested; that's fine from the manufacturer's point of view, as it allows to limit the number of faulty drives to be replaced. But it means your item may be the one which does not meet lifespan expectations. Therefore plug it in and spend some time writing and retrieving of files which you can afford to lose. That way you'll be confident the drive won't be an 'almost dead on arrival' and likely allow you to read your files when the time comes.

'Anything is likely to fail eventually', in the end external drives do 'something magnetic' with tiny particles, and read/write with heads in close proximity from rotating platters on a bearing at high speed. So protect yourself. Either buy a different second external drive - however excellent the reputation, choose another brand, just to avoid one brand's quality control slipping - even at just one manufacturing location. This assumes your files are not only irreplaceable but will also be needed in future.

For long term storage of really irreplaceable files likely to be needed in the future I'd add a different technology : augment your rotating external drives with perhaps a large-enough USB thumb drive, or an SD or similar card. Don't skimp on the item : bargain bin items landed there for a good reason.

Finally, store one copy away from the others : fire, floods whatever may wipe out your usual place, but the 'must keep' files can still be retrieved.

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by Flatworm / October 19, 2013 2:10 AM PDT

If they work out of the box they will almost always enjoy a normally long life. However, external drives can have parts that fail, most frequently in fact, that are not part of the drive itself but are circuitry within the drive's housing that are part of the USB port or power supply. I have found that, once you pry open the housing (not always an easy task) and "liberate" the drive itself, it almost always works perfectly and no data has been lost.

Hardware that allows you to connect a bare drive to your PC via a USB port costs about $9.00 or so, and there are a whole slew of them available from the usual retail sources.

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Rely on new hard drive
by jamescc4 / October 19, 2013 4:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Usually...

If you are talking to LAN administrators and similar jobs, multiple backups are absolutely necessary. Personally, my home computer has a 500 gigabyte hard drive. I also have a small 500 gigabyte USB connection box (palm size). The brand is "My Passport" but there are others too. A general superstition is to turn on your computer and all peripherals and leave them on for a few days. If something is going to fail, it will probably do it then. Also you should get a new hard drive every few years.
No comment on terabyte hard drives since I still don't trust them.

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Never just One backup
by waytron / October 25, 2013 8:16 PM PDT

The simple answer is: It is NEVER safe to rely on any hard drive especially if it is your only copy of your data. You should always have at least two copies at all times. This means that if you reformat your computers hard drive, you will be left with only one copy and that is assuming that you backed up your data correctly and did not miss something.
The safest way to do what you want is to simply go out and purchase a new hard drive for your computer and install Windows on that. This way you still have all your data on your original drive as well as the backup that you just made. I am assuming that since you are planning on reformatting the drive, it must be a year or more old anyway and since you are going to all the trouble of reformatting, reinstalling Windows, drivers, software and printers, why not start with a nice speedy new drive. If you really want a major boost in performance, now might be the time to switch to and SSD drive and keep your old drive as the D: data drive.
I cannot tell you how many times I have run into the scenario where someone thought they had backed up everything only to find that they had nothing or where missing some really important data that they did not realize was tucked away in some hidden folder.
Wayland Computer

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