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My hard drive failed - How long do they last?

My hard drive failed - How long do they last?

The most expensive repair that occurs most often in a standard business workstation is the replacement of an internal hard drive. A hard drive replacement involves more than simply swapping out the failed part. Once the drive is replaced, the operating system, data and all other programs have to be reinstalled on the new drive in order for the system to be usable again.

The questions that seem to come up when a drive fails include: "Why did it fail"? Then we are typically asked, "Are my drives failing faster than they should"? This post addresses what you should be planning around in terms of hard drive replacements, based on actual real-world experience.

1: Why did the hard drive fail?

Generally speaking, all hardware fails eventually and it is those under the greatest "wear and tear" stress that fail first. The two internal components under the greatest stress are the power supply and the hard drive. The power supply is under significant thermal-cycle stress but it is also thankfully easy and inexpensive to replace in a standard desktop. The hard drive, on the other hand, experiences stress because it is composed of moving mechanical parts that are operating all the time to search for data, grab data and deposit data. These parts just wear out. There will likely be a time where we no longer use mechanical drives and instead rely on some evolved form of solid state drives, however for reasons we won't go into here, mechanical drives are still in widespread use today.

2: Are my hard drives lasting as long as they should be?

In addition to the frequency of use, the failure rates are seen to vary by manufacturer and by drive size. In any given year, we may see more failures of a particular brand or size of drive as compared with others, but this changes over time and "past performance is not an indicator of expected future returns", as they say in finance. Based on real world experience, hard drives typically fail most in the first year and a half of operation due to "infant mortality" during the break-in period. There is an even greater rate of failure starting after 3 years which is considered "end-of-life wear out" failure. In the year and a half in-between the break-in and wear-out periods, the failure rates are much lower. While some drives can be found to be running upward of 10 years, generally speaking, about 30 to 35% of hard drives have failed by the end of a five year span of operation.

3. What can be done?

You can't really prevent a hard drive failure, but there are steps that every business should be considering. This is where system monitoring, planning, budgeting and standardization come into play and where Gravity IT Solutions offers tremendous value to our clients. Recommended steps include:

1. Consult with your expert IT resource in order to prepare for inevitable hardware failures by setting up for proper data backups and contingency plans so your company will remain in operation and profitable in spite of any unplanned event or outages.

2. Consider implementing remote monitoring and management for your system computers for automated maintenance, monitoring and notifications regarding hardware or software malfunctions and impending hardware failures. 

3. Consult with your IT resource to determine the reasonable expected life of each machine. Budget for annual equipment replacement based on the number and age of machines in use in the organization.

4. Consult with your IT resource to standardize on the minimum system requirements across your organization. Consider the length of the manufacturer's warranty as part of your standard system requirements.

5. Minimize the cost of system maintenance and repairs through an ongoing relationship with a professional IT resource such as Gravity IT Solutions. Established and returning clients benefit from this ongoing relationship through discounts, and decreased time spent in resolution with improved familiarity with your network and implementation of industry standards. 

Call Us Today

Since you can't avoid hardware failures altogether, you should plan around them. With professional guidance, Gravity IT Solutions can keep your employees working and productive while making system upgrades, repairs and replacements painless and cost-effective. Call us at 855-520-5200 to schedule a consultation for your business today!

Gravity IT Solutions serves as an out-sourced IT Department in support of small businesses. We serve the South Placer and Greater Sacramento region, but we have clients nationwide. Gravity IT Solutions provides remote or on-site computer support on both a break-fix or managed support basis. We also sell IT products and related services to small businesses improving the reliability of their computer network. Call us for help with slow computers, network problems, email, viruses, phones, data, software or hardware.

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Friday, 15 December 2017

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