How to care for your hard drive

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b2ap3_thumbnail_iStock_000003838560XSmall_20130801-154138_1.jpgMalfunctions in hard drive are critical for any computer system – in the event of malfunctions a user risks losing all data recorded to hard drive. It is very important to take care of hard drive and information on it. In this article we are going to tell you about preventive measures and tools with the help of which you will be able to ensure safe and secure operation of your hard drive.

How to maintain a hard drive

■ Create new partitions and manage existing ones – this way you will be able to maintain order on your hard drive and separate user content and system files.

■ Backup your data and backup system partition – if for some reasons operating stops booting, your data and system itself can be easily restored with the help of backup copy.
■ Do not forget to defragment your disk – it removes fragmentation of files and increases hard drive’s lifespan due to reduced movement of data read/write heads.

■ Clean your system and free disk space – it allows you to free disk space occupied by files that remained after installation/deinstallation of any program or temporary internet files.

■ Test with vendor programs – it will allow you to detect and correect various hard drive errors.

How often one should perform disk maintenance

Usually partitioning is done during installation of operating system , but with the help of special software you can manage disk’s partitions with data on them, as needed..

First backup (system partition) should be done immediately after new OS and applications are installed. This is to mark the ‘clean’ condition of disk when everything functions perfectly.

Save all important data before installing new software or hardware in case installation leads to OS breakdown. In addition, buckup your personal documents daily and take it as a rule to avoid losing valuable information in the event of force majeure (for example, virus attack or hard drive failure).

Perform hard drive defragementation and cleaning procedures regularly, especially if you frequently work with hard drive – installing/deleting new partitions, replenishing media library, downloading files from the Internet…

Attention! Use vendor tools carefully and launch them only if you suspect that hard drive is physically damaged.

MANAGING HARD DRIVE PARTITIONS

System area and user data area should be separated: if Windows is located on separate partition, then in case of “crash”, user files on another logical partition won’t get damaged. Presence of several partitions is also required if your computer has several operating systems (for example, Windows Vista and XP).

Windows operating system has its own service tools. As far as free software is concerned, we do not recommend using the services of amateurs since managing partitions is a very sensitive thing and a program that contains error can irreversibly delete all the contents of logical hard drive in an eye blink.

How to manage partitions with the help of Windows

Windows XP and Windows Vista have service program that allows partitioning hard drive, it is called “Disk Management”. Using it you can create, delete and format all partitions with FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS. It is quite sufficient to sort out the mess on a new hard drive.

HARD DRIVE DEFRAGMENTATION

If you are active PC user, i.e. you constantly install new applications and “demolish” unnecessary ones, write hundreds of megabytes of movies, musci and other data and then delete useless files and folders, then most probably the hard drive will be in the state of chaos...

When free space on hard drive is reducing, the system puts recorded files into areas of previously deleted data. If new file does not fit entirely, it is broken into parts and those parts are written on vacant areas. As a result, separate pieces of file are spread all over the disk and you get fragmentation.

During the read process of ‘segmented’ file read/write head has to move from one part of file to another which reflects on PC’s performance. If during data read/write you hear “buzzing” sound of hard drive and system slows down, it means that it is about time to perform defragmentation.

HARD DRIVE CLEANING

With time, hard drive accumulates “file garbage”: expired demo-versions, file duplicates, remains of deinstalled programs, cookies, etc. It may not be as harmless as it may seem at a first glance.

Firstly, available disk area will reduce and operating system will slow down; seocndly, analysis of files that remain in temporary folders after internet-surfing can give a lot of data about your preferences to hackers who secretly got access to your PC. At the best case you may be a victim to massive advertisement mailing, the worst scenario is that your online bank account details may be stolen and, accordingly, the money are gone.

Cleaning file garbage should be another task in the hard drive to-do-list.

PROGRAM DEINSTALLATION

We have already discussed that Windows program delete function does not always cope up with deinstallation of programs and often leaves traces on the disk (file and whole folders). It is necessary to get rid of such remains with the help of special deinstallation tools. A good choise would be paid Total Uninstall and freeware Revo Uninstaller. Read about how to delete applications correctly later in this section.

DATA BACKUP

Is your hard disk in perfect order? Does the system boots without problems, defragmentation is done, “file garbage” is off, unnecessary programs are uninstalled? It is time to backup system partition and personal data in this condition. The easiest way out is to use a standard Windows tool – Data archiving. More advanced options have backup programs like Acronis True Image 11 Home.

TYPES OF BACKUP

Full backup – all selected files and folders are put into it. The process takes more time but it is easier to recover this archive because it has only one backup file.

Incremental backup contains files that have been replaced or added since the moment of the latest full backup. It requires less disk space compared to full backup because unchanged files are not copied. However recovery takes longer because on top of recovering full backup it recovers multiple incremental files (if full backup was done on Monday and from Tuesday to Friday only incremental copying was done, then data has to be recovered from all five files).

Differential backup contains all data changes in respect of the original full backup. Thus, after full backup on Monday differential backup on Tuesday will record all files that have been changed. But from Wednesday to Friday all files that have been changed since the moment of full copy perfromed on Monday will be copied. In other words, file, changed on Tuesday will be recorded into all subsequent differential backup copies. That requires more space on the data carrier but such backup is recovered faster because you will need only two files – full backup performed on Monday and differential backup performed on Friday.

HARD DRIVE TESTING

During operation hard drives are subjected to mechanical loads and vibrations, no wander that their lifespan is limited. After several years of intensive usage hard drives wear out and that can lead to complete data loss. Original diagnostics of hard drive can be performed at home using specialized vendor tools as well as using universal programs that are good for testing any hard drive.

Attention! Incorrect use of programs can lead to data damage, make sure to read the instruction manual supplied before installation!

Last modified on Friday, 22 May 2015 13:49
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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