The Enemies of Memory: Hard Drive Failure, What Causes It, and How to Fight It

How quickly could your business recover from a complete loss of your client, transaction, accounting, and tax data? The threats out there range from Mother Nature (fire, flood) to Father Time (equipment failure through age, obsolescence, etc.).

Along with these godly forces are the common human enemies of software glitches and cyber-attacks. Should hackers get past your virus protection, with ransomware for example, your final defense is restoring your system from a complete data backup.

According to this piece in PC Mech, mechanical hard drives "are destined to fail." (That's "destined" as in death and taxes). With that certainty in mind, let’s look at what will come to destroy your drive and your data.

1. Physical damage

The earth's elements of fire, water, and electricity are natural enemies to your hard drive. For example, tinkering around with the innards of a computer without being grounded can ruin a hard drive with a shot of static electricity just as quickly as a jarring drop. 

2. Mechanical failure. 

The spinning hard drive can experience a data destroying head crash at any time. Solid-state drives have the advantage of no moving parts, but heat and extended use will also eventually wear them out. 

3. File structure or software failure

Your hard drive is analogous to a storage warehouse. From the boot program to firing up software applications and retrieving files, the operating system software depends on its file management and retrieval system from various locations on your hard drive.

Think of your PC operating system's file structure as an indexed database. Your operating system can fail at the "base" through an index corruption, or through lost links. A damage to the base will deny the hard drive access to its own file retrieval system, leaving it stranded at the warehouse door. Lost links occur when a computer file loses track of its next portion somewhere else on the hard drive--i.e., the hard disk is "fragmented." 

Safeguarding Against Hard Drive Failure

Unless for catastrophic reasons, hard drives rarely fail without warning. The PC Mech article linked above lists several warning signs from computer freezing to a grinding sounds. Whatever the symptoms, causes or fixes, again, the most reliable insurance against data loss of an off-site data backup program that will get your system back on line quickly. 

Contact us and we'll help you shore up your PC of Mac-based system as you do business in the wilds of the web.


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