The Bathtub Curve and Your Hard Drive

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b2ap3_thumbnail_bathtub-curve.jpgAt some point, we’ve all heard of the Bell Curve, which usually has to do with some smarty-pants in your class getting such a high grade that everyone else has to work harder. But did you know, there is a curve for talking about the life of your hard drive?

The Bathtub Curve is designed to talk about all product failure. Of course, since the subject matter is failure rate, this often is used to talk specifically about electronics. Much like the Bell Curve looks like a bell, the Bathtub Curve looks like a bathtub basin.

On one side, we have the beginning of life for a product where the failure rate is high, but decreases at a very rapid rate. Electronics that fail at this point in the ‘life cycle’ are usually caught before they reach consumers - ie, you. These product failures would be caught during the testing phase of manufacturing.

In the middle, we have the lowest level of failure. This is during the normal lifespan of a given product. This is the time that consumers (you) are using the product. The rate of failure is at the lowest point in a device’s lifespan. This is by far the longest time span during the device’s life cycle.

On the other side, we have the end of life, where the failure rate steadily increases. The rise in the rate of failure is not as sharp as failure decreases in the early life stage, but it is a fairly steep rise. This is the time when your drive fails for seemingly no reason. It is literally when your drive is “wearing out”.

While it seems like this is some mystical, hidden reason that you’ll never be able to understand, or perhaps it’s something that is completely out of your control, that’s not necessarily true. Whenever a sector of a disk is damaged, that sector is labeled as a ‘bad sector’ and is ‘mapped out’. This keeps these bad sectors from affecting the drive’s operation, and allows you to continue using the drive as normal. This process is completed by the computer and is done without the user’s awareness. As more and more sectors are mapped as bad, less and less of the disk can be used. Eventually, enough sectors are damaged that normal use cannot continue. It’s easy to see how, over time, it’s inevitable for the disk to ‘wear out’.

Fortunately, there are ways to extend the life of your hard drive, and there are a variety of warning signs that will tell you that your hard drive is on the up-slope of the Bathtub Curve. If you think your hard drive is on its last legs, be sure to backup your data. If you’ve waited too long, contact us today to get a quote on recovering your lost data.

Last modified on Tuesday, 19 May 2015 13:41
Data Recovery Expert

Viktor S., Ph.D. (Electrical/Computer Engineering), was hired by DataRecoup, the international data recovery corporation, in 2012. Promoted to Engineering Senior Manager in 2010 and then to his current position, as C.I.O. of DataRecoup, in 2014. Responsible for the management of critical, high-priority RAID data recovery cases and the application of his expert, comprehensive knowledge in database data retrieval. He is also responsible for planning and implementing SEO/SEM and other internet-based marketing strategies. Currently, Viktor S., Ph.D., is focusing on the further development and expansion of DataRecoup’s major internet marketing campaign for their already successful proprietary software application “Data Recovery for Windows” (an application which he developed).


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