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With internal hard drives breaking the 2TB (that is, Terabytes) threshold and external drives hitting 8TB, it may lull one into a false sense of security that the same technology that brings these ultra-high densities also brings correspondingly higher reliability. While it is true that today’s hard drives are much more reliable than they were 25 years ago when the personal computers hit the market with their 10MB—state-of-the-art drives—they are still one of the weakest components in your system.

Now, couple that with the fact that if you have a 2 Terabyte drive you are probably going to stuff it full of data (pictures, movies, emails, personal documents, tax forms…) and there will definitely be some data there that you do not want to lose. Using the higher density drives means you will put more of your important data at risk if the drive fails, which in time, it will. See what a hard drive crash is and what it may sound like here.

Backup Your Data

There are many options available today to preserve that data. One of the easiest things to do is to back your computer up—REGULARLY!  It should become a habit like brushing your teeth every day, or taking out the trash once a week. Regularly scheduled backups will keep your important data safe and secure should your hard drive suddenly byte the dust (sorry), buy the farm, push up daisies…or in other words—die.

Programs like Acronis True Image, and online services such as SOS SugarSync and Acronis True Image Cloud Backup solutions can provide you with the protection you need to backup or image your hard drive. You can run parallel or redundant drives but that costs more money, power and takes up space, while generating more waste heat (more on this later).

Backing up your data is critical to preserving the important information on your system, but there are other things one can do to maximize the life of your hard drive. Remember that there are many factors that affect how long a piece of electronic equipment will function.

Hard Drive Reliability Factors


Temperature plays a big part in reliability, so make sure that your system’s vents are cleared of dust and that the fans are working properly. That includes the back of the PC where the cables connect. If you see dust collecting around the connectors or seams, it is getting there because the exhaust fans pull air into the cabinet through these openings. Clean them out to maximize the airflow, and make sure that the cabinet is not buried in a corner with little airflow around it. Periodically, clean the dust out of the interior of the PC cabinet, especially from the heat sinks attached to the processors on the motherboard and the video card and around the hard drive case. The Disk Doctors Hard Drive Manager allows you to not only backup, image and restore your hard drive, it also monitors the hard drive health to let you know about problems before they occur.


If you have overclocked your processor(s) then you will be generating even more heat inside the enclosure making it even more important that the vents are clear. Dust on the components insulates them and causes the internal temperature of the IC’s to increase, decreasing reliability.


Vibration is another problem, especially for the hard drives. Although the laptop drives are ruggedized, try to minimize any external vibration that the system may be exposed to. And, try not to carry it around while it is up and running. The jostles, bumps and thumps the laptop feels will transfer to the hard drive and put additional stress on its protection systems to keep the drive operating normally. You run the risk of getting a head crash that could end the life of the drive.

With some simple maintenance and care, along with proper and regular backups, you should not have to worry about losing important data if the odds are against you and your hard drive meets an untimely end. It is best to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to the feeding and care of one’s hard drives.

Here are our Recommended Data Backup Solutions

Acronis True Image 2017 has been released and it is optimized for Windows 10 and the most recent Mac OS X versions. This version is between 3 times to 6 times faster than the competition. Through the years, True Image has been making it easier and easier to keep your data safe by backing it up. The 2017 version has simplified the process even more. 2 clicks is all it takes to do a full image backup of your entire computer. This version combines the features of the previous versions which includes dynamic disk support and Universal Restore allowing you to restore data to a different PC even if it has different hardware. Wi-Fi support has also been added when backing up to the Acronis Cloud even to a bare-metal PC. It easily backs up Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and even Facebook. Gotta keep up with the times. See our full review of Acronis True Image.

Norton Online Backup stores your files online so you can retrieve them anytime, anywhere using any computer connected to the Internet. You can get your files back fast whether you are at home, in the office, or on the road. Norton works with both Windows and Mac computers lets you search backup sets for specific files by keyword, simplifies file sharing and saves older versions of your backed up files. A trusted service by a trusted name.

SOS Online Backup is one of the largest worldwide providers of online backup for consumers, small and medium businesses and IT/managed service providers. SOS Online Backup delivers simple yet powerful online backup that has become the industry’s top award winner, including Laptop Magazine’s Editor’s Choice and PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award since 2006. The SOS Online Backup solution utilizes 11 data centers across multiple continents to keep your data replicated for added security. Also has an iPhone and BlackBerry App, File sharing, Web Access to your files and a built in local backup option. See our review of SOS.

NovaBACKUP data storage and protection service offers a wide range of backup solutions for your Personal Computer or an entire office of networked PCs. This solution allows you to back up your critical data to a wide range of devices and online storage solutions. The disk imaging technology that is included in NovaBACKUP allows you to recover your entire operating system with just a few simple steps giving you total data protection. NovaBACKUP is a complete backup and disaster recovery solution for Windows servers, PC’s and laptops and VMware virtual machines.

SugarSync takes the online backup solution to a new level. SugarSync is the only cloud backup solution that allows you to backup, sync and share files across an unlimited number of computers. That means you can access, edit and share any of your files from any PC – and whatever changes you make will automatically replicate across all your computers. You can store documents, photos, music, video files – and once you are synced, you can access them from any web browser or smart phone. You can even share photo albums and stream entire music collections directly from the Internet. See our Review of the SugarSync Online Backup Service.