Minimizing Hard Disk Drive Failure and Data Loss/Introduction

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A typical hard disk drive icon.

The strategies for minimizing hard disk drive failure and the consequent data loss are:

  • Delaying drive failure by identifying its causes and acting to prevent some of those causes
  • Detecting an impending drive failure by monitoring drive health and using early warning signs
  • Data redundancy using RAID, backups, parchives (parity archives), and sharing
  • Reducing one's data by means of routine cleanups and data compression software
  • Managing drive life cycle by appropriate drive selection, performing a burn-in, and doing routine replacements

Data loss may be caused by other factors, such as a virus or a user error, and not always by drive failure.

A drive may appear to stop working, but this doesn't necessarily have to be the result of a drive failure. It can often be the result of a problem with a data or power cable being loose or damaged, or with an expansion card or enclosure. The process of elimination can be used to aid in troubleshooting. The relevant cables can be swapped and checked to ensure that they are correctly plugged in. If an expansion card is used, the drive can be tested with a different port on the card. If an enclosure is used, the drive can be tested in a different enclosure, or a different drive can be tested in the enclosure.

Information for data recovery once data loss has occurred is not included. Additionally, relevant information is not duplicated en masse from Wikibooks or Wikipedia. This is in an attempt to reduce information duplication. Links to such information are included instead.

While most of the stated strategies apply exclusively to hard disk drives, some also apply to solid-state drives. In particular, these include electricity control, redundancy, and antivirus protection.

Prerequisite reading[edit]

Optional reading[edit]