In our guide on how to build your own computer, we talked about how to choose a hard drive and how to mount it in your rig. After the computer is done, you need to take care of your hard drive, so that it can work for a long time, but also perform like it should. Sometimes this is overlooked and the hard drive loses its speed and can crash in some cases, making the data inaccessible.
Also, owners of SSD (solid state drives) have to keep an eye on their drives, although they are much more reliable and have fewer problems than the old HDDs. The SSD must be carefully chosen and its better to go for the very best if you want to have it along for a long time, but even the very best solid state drive will need your attention from time to time.
Keeping your drives healthy is very easy!
If you thought that this process is hard to do and only computer professionals can do it, then you are very wrong. The tools that help you keep a hard drive healthy are mostly free and easy to use. Also, there are other factors to consider besides software issues. We will take a look at the different techniques you can use to ensure that your hard drives are safe and healthy.
We will start by taking a look at the hardware side first and then see some tools that will help your hard drive to maintain its health. Keep it mind that most of these tips are necessary to implement if you want your drive to have a long life.
1. Mount the hard drive properly
The proper mounting of the hard drive was featured in the how to assemble a computer guide, but in this section of our guide we will give you a few more advices on correctly mounting the hard drive. First of all, you should know that the hard drive must be mounted in the correct place (I say this because I’ve seen people leave their hard drives dangling out of the case with no support).
It must be mounted in the hard drive cage and its screws (if your case does not have mounting brackets) have to be well tighten. This will help eliminate the vibrations from the hard drive which could damage it in time. Also, for mounting, it would be a good idea to use silicone mounters instead of screws, these offer the very best protection against vibrations.
2. Ensure proper airflow
Remember when we talked about the airflow? Both in the cooling system tutorial and in the wire management one we stressed out how important it is to have cool components in your computer. If you pick your case wisely, you will have a good airflow over the hard drives, which will allow them to run cool. If your case does not have sufficient cooling for the hard drives, then it would be a great idea to look for a aftermarket hard drive cooler. These are very cheap and they work with almost all hard drives.
3. Make the connections properly
You need to pay extra attention when you connect your hard drive to the computer. Make sure that the connections are made properly and that the cables cannot unplug by accident. Also, new SATA cables come with a holding pin that will ensure that the cable will never unplug itself. The incorrect contact between the connectors on the cables and the ones on the drive might make your hard drive unstable and it can even damage it.
4. Stay away from static
Any computer builder will tell you that static electricity is the worst enemy of any computer component. Before you touch your hard drive (or any component for that matter), be sure to ground yourself. In some cases, when you touch the components, it will damage them and you will be left with a dead component. Before you start fiddling in your computer, touch the ground connector in your wall socket to get rid of all the static electricity that your body has acquired.
5. Power off your hard drives when you don’t need them
Using the integrated “Standby” or “Sleep” feature that is implemented in every operating system will help your hard drive run for a longer period of time. This option turns the hard drive off and the disks will not revolve any more while in this state. This will allow your hard drive to last longer and it will also make your computer more power efficient.
6. Defragment your drive
One of the best and simplest solutions that one could use is to make frequent defragmentations on their drives. The integrated Windows Defrag Utility does a pretty good job, but for those in need of more powerful tools, we suggest you take a look at our top of the best defragmentation utilities. Also, by defragmenting, you can make your hard drive run faster.
7. Use the Chkdsk utility
Not many know of this tool, but it is implemented in all Windows operating systems and like the Defrag utility, it can help your hard drive run for a longer period of time. The tool can be accessed by opening a Command Prompt window with administrator rights and typing the command “chkdsk /f X:” to scan the drive, or “chkdsk /r X:” to fix any error that might appear on your drive.
Note: Replace “X” with the letter of the partition you wish to scan. Also, the process takes some time to complete (depending on the size of the hard drive) and under any circumstance, do not close it until the repair process has finished.
8. Create partitions and keep your OS separate
Creating partitions has a good impact on your computer. First of all it allows you to install your OS on a different partition than the one used for storage, thus ensuring that your OS files are safe and cannot be affected by something that you install. Also, this will ensure that the OS part of the hard drive will not be subjected to more write/read operations than it has to. This will ensure a longer lifespan of the hard drive.
9. Optimize your drive
We previously featured some great tips for optimizing hard drives, and we strongly suggest that you implement them. They can have a massive impact on your drive’s speed and lifespan. Also, these can apply for both SSDs and HDDs. Take note of these optimization tricks and your drives will be healthy and have a long life.
10. Use dedicated tools
We will come back with a list of the best tools and utilities that you can use to scan and fix your hard drives, but these should not be overlooked. As you will see, they will allow you to closely monitor your drives and they will warn you when something is wrong and it needs fixing. Some tools can also repair hard drives that have bad sectors or other issues.
If you implement some of the tips that we’ve featured here, you will definitely be able to keep your hard drive healthy, thus allowing it to operate for a longer time, and it will also give it a boost in performance. Please take note of these tips and if you are aware of some other methods, please let us know by leaving a comment.