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Care for an External Hard Drive</strong>
At Affordable Computer Repairs and Service we obtain more jobs than we would like from customers desperately requiring data recovery from their non-functioning external hard drive.
So many people believe that simply connecting and backing up on a portable hard drive is the complete solution to the safe storage of precious files and important data. However portable hard drives do fail and not only should they not be relied upon as the only back up method but portable hard drives also need to be cared for.
So How do you Care for an External Hard Drive?
It is not difficult to care for an external hard drive and caring for it will extend its life and also should save you the heartache of drive failure. Please do note as well that drive failure can also be caused by manufacturers error and all hard drives should be checked before use.
Storage of the Hard Drive Itself
Keep in a Secure, Safe Location
The majority of portable HD data recovery jobs that we obtain are from customers who have knocked or dropped their drives. Most people don’t realise just how delicate external hard drives are. A HD need to be kept somewhere where the likelihood of it being knocked off a table, the PC itself etc are unlikely. A drop onto a hard surface (and sometimes even a soft surface) can damage your drive meaning you can’t access the data on the device.
When carrying around an external drive, again you need to be careful. Ensure that it is surrounded by padding and is secured firmly. Just dropping a HD into a bag is asking for trouble.
If you have purchased a magnetic external HD it needs to be laid down flat. If it is stored on its side or tilted in any way it can cause malfunction of the magnetic needle and the spinner platters which can lead to malfunctions and/or slowing down of the drive.
Your HD should also be stored somewhere where there is little likelihood of liquid (your coffee for example) is spilt on the drive.
Hard drives also need to be kept away from any magnets including your PC speakers. Hard drives also doing like extremes of temperature, nor do they like moisture. If your HD is active a lot of the time a small fan can be used to keep the temperature of the device down. A fan is also a solution if the work area is hot and humid such as a particularly unpleasant Brisbane summers day if you don’t have air conditioning. Also you should not keep your external HD on a surface that retains heat such as a towel or other cloth items, or even paper. When you are not using your external hard drive it is recommended that the drive be stored in a cool place.
Portable drives also do not like vibrations so this is a second reason why storing next to speakers is not recommended.
Hard Drives and Airflow
It is important that there is sufficient air flow area around the air vents of your portable HD. The air vents themselves also need to be kept clean. A build up of dust etc can be removed using an air can.
To be on the safe side a disk error check should be run every two to three months.
Ejecting your Portable HD
One simple way to care for an external hard drive is to never just pull out your drive from the USB port. Doing so can damage your HD. Always use the option to eject the drive. A second reason for using the eject option is that sometimes a file transfer may still be in operation even while a message has been received that the process is complete. When using the eject option you can be certain that the transfer has occurred in full as the system will force waiting files to be transferred before the device is powered down. This also has the added benefit that a power surge which can occur without using the eject option will not occur this will protect not only your data but the device itself. Finally when removing the connection from your USB port you should hold it by the cable connector not the cable itself.
Use of your External HD
An important fact not known about regarding the care of an external drive is to not use the drive for frequent casual saves. To extend the life of your device it is best to put all the files you wish to back up in a single folder and then transfer the folder itself.
It is not only the hard drive that you need to care for but the cable as well. This includes such simple things as ensuring that the cable connection has not come loose. If the device cable is not securely plugged into your PC it can result in interruptions of your file transfers which you may not be aware of and which can in fact damage your external hard drive over time.
A tip for you… Whilst longer cables are often more versatile, in actual fact your data transfer will be faster with a shorter cable…
What Should you Look for when Purchasing an External Hard Drive
It is always tempting to buy the cheapest portable hard drive, but like anything often what you pay for is what you get and to buy an external hard drive on price alone can be an expensive mistake. In choosing a portable hard drive the most important and obvious factor is the reliability of the hard drive. Do a little bit of home work, there are plenty of articles available on the net regarding which manufacturers’ external hard drives are proven to be the most reliable. We suggest that you look at articles provided by those without a vested interest in selling portable hard drives! This article in PCWorld (May 2016) should be of some assistance. Please also remember that new models are being produced all the time and that you should seek the most current information available.
Additional Methods of Storage
As stated before using a single external HD as your only means of storage is not sufficient ifyou want to be really sure that you are not going to lose data. One solution is to back up onto another external drive, taking care of that drive too. Another solution is to use a cloud back up service. A second partition on your internal hard drive is a further option. Whatever you do, don’t rely on just one storage solution, use at least two.