One of the most common purposes for computers that we all tend to take for granted is storage. More specifically, data storage. It might not seem like an important reminder, but we should all learn how to take care of a storage device or how to take care of our hard drives, SSDs, or even phone storage.
Because after all, every data you have and want access to offline is located on the storage device. You’re putting a lot of trust in a device that could fail just about any time, more so if you’re reckless. One mishap could render all your photos, videos, and files– your precious memories committed to visuals, gone.
So we’ll be covering different types of computer storage in this guide on how to take care of your storage device.
The Good Old ‘Avoid Magnets’
If you took computer classes during elementary school, the teacher might have mentioned this one already. But this only really applies to older hardware, such as hard disk drives (HDD).
HDDs function by recording data on physical disks inside their metal casing. Since it a lot of its components are metal, a lot of them are also magnetic, and sticking a strong enough magnet to an HDD or anywhere near it will wipe out all the data inside or maybe even destroy the whole thing.
Nowadays, a lot of computers, particularly laptops, don’t use HDDs anymore because they’re slow and bulky. Some older models might have them, and desktop computers have a higher chance of having them. So just to be sure, don’t stick magnets near electronics. Why would you even do that anyway?
This is another one for HDDs. A lot of moving parts are prone to shock damage and strong-enough vibrations can cause shock or physical damage. Sources of vibrations such as loud music, roadwork, or vehicular travel can all add up and gradually destroy an HDD.
If your computer has an SSD or solid-state drive, you’re safe as those are practically immune to vibrations, shocks, and magnetic fields since they don’t have moving parts. Of course, if you’re unsure what kind of storage device your computer has, then it’s best to just avoid places that can introduce tooth-rattling vibrations.
Beware of Heat
This goes for all components in the computer, not just the storage device.
A computer, including a smartphone, consists of different components each with its own heat tolerance thresholds. That’s why the most sensitive components are usually the standard here for the heat that your device should be subjected to.
Now, most storage devices, particularly HDDs and the more modern solid-state drives (SSD) have certain operating temperatures and acceptable temperature ranges. They could easily exceed this threshold if the ambient temperature or the temperature around them is too hot.
For example, you brought out your laptop to a park during the summer because you thought about working outdoors. But if it was too hot, your laptop could easily overheat along with its components inside. Even if they don’t outright break, constant heat cycles (heating then cooling rapidly) will contribute to premature deterioration and wear and tear.
So do yourself and your computers a favor; pick a cold spot for work or gaming.
Use an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
An uninterruptible power supply or UPS will help keep your computer running for a few minutes after a sudden blackout or power outage. This will give you enough time to save your work and perform a proper shutdown.
Because you don’t want your computer to suddenly lose power. This is bad for the computer as a whole, and it’s also risky for your storage device. Power outages can easily cause data corruption and for HDDs, it might even create some bad sectors or unusable– possibly damaged spaces.
More importantly, some power outages are accompanied by sudden power spikes once electricity returns. This electricity spike can short out your computer’s components– your storage device among them.
This is also another thing with which the UPS protects.
Always Check for Drive Integrity
There’s no shortage of diagnostic tools you can use for free if you want to keep tabs on your storage device’s health. The same goes for both the HDD and the SSD.
The HDD has its own defragmenter program in most Windows versions and all you have to do is search for it in the Windows Search Bar.
Meanwhile, SSDs usually come with SSD health or integrity readers from their manufacturers or there are third-party applications that help measure an SSD’s lifespan or health.
You ought to do this periodically especially if you’ve recently been installing and uninstalling a lot of programs or moving data in or out too often.
This way, you can be forewarned of a failing storage device or you could nip the culprit in the bud and perform some preemptive ways to prevent drive failure long before it even happens. For a good rule of thumb, perform defragmentation or SSD health checks every six months or so.
Alright, so with all that’s been said and done, storage devices– be it HDDs or SSDs are bound to fail at some point in their lifespans. The failure rate increases every two years or so, likely earlier if you use the storage device a lot to move files or for installation.
In fact, you should trust a storage device that’s five years old or older after taking it out of the packaging. That’s just how storage devices are made. It’s best to include their impermanence in the equation and in your budget.
The best way to anticipate failure is to have backup storage whether from the Cloud or another HDD or SSD. This way, your data remains secure on another storage device.