Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

What Can Kill A Hard Drive?

Last response: in Storage
Share
June 13, 2006 11:20:24 PM

I have started having problems with one of my older hard drives, and it got me to thinking about this. Whenever you format a drive that was formatted in NTFS to some other file system, say RiserFS or ext3, there is a warning that it may damage the drive.

I was wondering about the actual validity of this statement. I have been expecting my drive to fail for some time now due to its age (4-5 years old I believe), and it does seem to be showing its age. However, only recently has it been showing signs of its age. I was wondering if this may have partially been caused by the several times being written as NTFS and the others.

Just fyi, the symptoms are extremely slow loading from it, and just today it started dying on me while in use. This may be related to something else, but the system suddenly locks up, then restarts itself. When it POSTs it doesn't see the drive and isn't able to access it until after I jiggle its connections a bit. Of course, the slowness may be related to its 5400Rpm and its 2mb cache.

Don't worry, just ordered a new drive with more than 6x the capacity. Not to mention 16mb cache.

Question is, will the frequent reformatting actually lower the life expectancy of my drives? I would appreciate any knowledge that anyone can give me.

More about : kill hard drive

a b G Storage
June 13, 2006 11:39:13 PM

Yes, frequent formatting will play into the expected life of the drive, especially full formats instead of quick ones.
June 14, 2006 12:02:08 AM

By a negligable margin at best, formatting is the same as accessing data across the entire drive at once. Not exactly different from what most users do anyway, just all at once instead of spread out. And that depends also on the type of format.

I would venture to say nobody has ever killed a drive by formating it to death.

And 4-5 years isn't a great run for a well kept hd, they should last upwards of 8-10 if taken care of properly, even under heavy use. Most HD manufacturers state a 5 year life span, same as car companies stating 10 year life spans, they only do this so you don't bitch when the drive craters right after 5 years of life.
Related resources
June 14, 2006 12:02:38 AM

Why?

Surely formatting a drive is simply writing data to it, which is no different from when one reads and writed during normal use. Therefore it wont suffer any more wear than the equivelent ammount of time spent writinh during normal use.. Explain..
June 14, 2006 12:02:57 AM

[quote"Michaelahess"]What Can Kill A Hard Drive?[/quote]

A hammer
June 14, 2006 12:11:04 AM

Quote:
Why?

Surely formatting a drive is simply writing data to it, which is no different from when one reads and writed during normal use. Therefore it wont suffer any more wear than the equivelent ammount of time spent writinh during normal use.. Explain..


Perhaps its the way the different file systems that are implemented on the hard drive's MFT. Keep in mind that I was using wildly different filesystems on some formats. Maybe the extra wear was on the memory of the file table? That would explain why you are often able to find the data lost to a failing hard drive. Anyone with any REAL knowledge of file systems and the like would surely be able to give some good information.

And yes, a hammer is a great way to kill a hard drive.
June 14, 2006 12:22:53 AM

Surely you mean the MBR not MFT, the first chunck of space for the MASTER BOOT RECORD. The Master File Table, analogis to the FAT table, that NTFS uses is stored in various areas over the disc (duplicates exist incase one ever fails) and won't end up in the same place everytime, hell it moves around just by writing/deleting files anyway as it's size changes.

You know how many times you'd have to rewrite the MBR? You could spend a week just doing fdisk/mbr and not write to it as many times as the windows swap file writes to the spame place on the hd.

Trust me, you can't format a disk to death, you just can't.
June 14, 2006 1:10:28 AM

Thank you for the correction. The "damage" that the formatter speaks of when going from NTFS -> anything must be speaking of the data itself. Still makes me wonder, why even say that at all? If you are formatting, it does warn you of total data loss. And as I recall, it is only in the case of NTFS-> anything else. Strange to see such warnings...
June 14, 2006 1:15:12 AM

I've never seen a message saying it will damage the hd, course I never bother to read anything when formating a drive, I'm formatting it after all :) 
June 14, 2006 1:31:44 AM

Quote:
I've never seen a message saying it will damage the hd, course I never bother to read anything when formating a drive, I'm formatting it after all :) 


I have never seen a message saying that either. I always to a full format, never a quick format. I dont see how it could shorten the life of the drive. It just erases date. Much like defrag moves the data around.
June 14, 2006 1:38:30 AM

Quote:
By a negligable margin at best, formatting is the same as accessing data across the entire drive at once. Not exactly different from what most users do anyway, just all at once instead of spread out. And that depends also on the type of format.

I would venture to say nobody has ever killed a drive by formating it to death.

And 4-5 years isn't a great run for a well kept hd, they should last upwards of 8-10 if taken care of properly, even under heavy use. Most HD manufacturers state a 5 year life span, same as car companies stating 10 year life spans, they only do this so you don't bitch when the drive craters right after 5 years of life.


BS Please don't mislead people if you don't what you're talking about.

3-5 years is far more accurate. I replace mine for my primary system every three years just to be safe. In an office setting they may last longer but generally don't do the trashing the my home computer does. The newer drives may also last longer but no drive with 5 years on it should be trusted for anything important and no drive that is 5 years old or older is worth having. 10 years ago drives were measure in Megabytes it couldn't even hold my windows folder...

Frequently defragging on these large drives will significantly reduce their life if not done incrementally over time.
June 14, 2006 1:38:39 AM

Quote:
What Can Kill A Hard Drive?


RAIDS.
a b G Storage
June 14, 2006 1:46:31 AM

Quote:
Why?

Surely formatting a drive is simply writing data to it, which is no different from when one reads and writed during normal use. Therefore it wont suffer any more wear than the equivelent ammount of time spent writinh during normal use.. Explain..


actually formatting a drive doesn't write alot of data to the drive.... barely any actually.. just enough to write out the MFT and boot sector... the whole reason full formats take so long is because the drive is being mapped. The format utility reads (not writes) every sector on the drive and flags any that are bad so they don't get used.
June 14, 2006 2:05:51 AM

Cancer.
June 14, 2006 2:22:24 AM

What can kill a hard drive? Bearings wearing out, platters touching each other, coca cola being spilled on it, static electricy from being laid on a carpet while working on the computer, lightening strikes, bullets at the rifle range, and probably a lot of other things.

I doubt formating would have any effect. Who knows, that might even lengthen its life. I have one drive that is 8 years old and going strong. Came out of a Dell computer with a Pentium II 450 mhz machine. Sure, its only a whopping 4 gig in size, but that still holds a lot of word files.
June 14, 2006 3:04:34 AM

I'm not saying you would want to use them that long, just that they will easily last that long. Thousands of hard drives through my hands and only a handful of failures, speaks for itself.
June 14, 2006 3:41:21 AM

Quote:
What can kill a hard drive? Bearings wearing out, platters touching each other, coca cola being spilled on it, static electricy from being laid on a carpet while working on the computer, lightening strikes, bullets at the rifle range, and probably a lot of other things.

I doubt formating would have any effect. Who knows, that might even lengthen its life. I have one drive that is 8 years old and going strong. Came out of a Dell computer with a Pentium II 450 mhz machine. Sure, its only a whopping 4 gig in size, but that still holds a lot of word files.


finally some one with a semi intelligent answer.....

and btw *coca cola being spilled* is a definate afirmative.... (don't ask)

saying formatting a drive shortens it's life is like saying accessing a drive shortens it's life......

its a mechanical thing - the longer it sits there plugged in and turned on - the shorter it's life will be... that my friend is what kills a hard drive (well that and Coke)
June 14, 2006 4:14:10 AM

Quote:
By a negligable margin at best, formatting is the same as accessing data across the entire drive at once. Not exactly different from what most users do anyway, just all at once instead of spread out. And that depends also on the type of format.

I would venture to say nobody has ever killed a drive by formating it to death.

And 4-5 years isn't a great run for a well kept hd, they should last upwards of 8-10 if taken care of properly, even under heavy use. Most HD manufacturers state a 5 year life span, same as car companies stating 10 year life spans, they only do this so you don't bitch when the drive craters right after 5 years of life.


BS Please don't mislead people if you don't what you're talking about.

3-5 years is far more accurate. I replace mine for my primary system every three years just to be safe. In an office setting they may last longer but generally don't do the trashing the my home computer does. The newer drives may also last longer but no drive with 5 years on it should be trusted for anything important and no drive that is 5 years old or older is worth having. 10 years ago drives were measure in Megabytes it couldn't even hold my windows folder...

Frequently defragging on these large drives will significantly reduce their life if not done incrementally over time.

I have some 7 year old drives that work as well as when they were new....slow.

I even have drives that have XP installed from the first week it was in the stores.

What I do EACH month is:

1) Clean the registry.
2) Defrag the registry.
3) Defrag the HD.
4) Run BootVis.

That keeps the drive clean and fast (as fast as it can be).

Now to keep them from getting out of "wack" and data corruption issues I run SpinRite on each drive two times a year.
This can take 9-12 hours for 150GB drive...but it refreshs all the data,repairs bad sectors ect so that the heads now line up with the magnetic emulsion that tends to "move" to the outside of the disk over the years of spinning.

The big hardware problems I have all seem to come from PSU's haveing bad caps after the 3 year mark.
My cure for that is to now only use PC Power & Cooling PSU's and they will put new caps and fan in for me after the 5 year warrenty runs out and re-warrent them for a low price.

Z
June 14, 2006 4:30:30 AM

Quote:
By a negligable margin at best, formatting is the same as accessing data across the entire drive at once. Not exactly different from what most users do anyway, just all at once instead of spread out. And that depends also on the type of format.

I would venture to say nobody has ever killed a drive by formating it to death.

And 4-5 years isn't a great run for a well kept hd, they should last upwards of 8-10 if taken care of properly, even under heavy use. Most HD manufacturers state a 5 year life span, same as car companies stating 10 year life spans, they only do this so you don't bitch when the drive craters right after 5 years of life.


BS Please don't mislead people if you don't what you're talking about.

3-5 years is far more accurate. I replace mine for my primary system every three years just to be safe. In an office setting they may last longer but generally don't do the trashing the my home computer does. The newer drives may also last longer but no drive with 5 years on it should be trusted for anything important and no drive that is 5 years old or older is worth having. 10 years ago drives were measure in Megabytes it couldn't even hold my windows folder...

Frequently defragging on these large drives will significantly reduce their life if not done incrementally over time.

I have some 7 year old drives that work as well as when they were new....slow.

I even have drives that have XP installed from the first week it was in the stores.

What I do EACH month is:

1) Clean the registry.
2) Defrag the registry.
3) Defrag the HD.
4) Run BootVis.

That keeps the drive clean and fast (as fast as it can be).

Now to keep them from getting out of "wack" and data corruption issues I run SpinRite on each drive two times a year.
This can take 9-12 hours for 150GB drive...but it refreshs all the data,repairs bad sectors ect so that the heads now line up with the magnetic emulsion that tends to "move" to the outside of the disk over the years of spinning.

The big hardware problems I have all seem to come from PSU's haveing bad caps after the 3 year mark.
My cure for that is to now only use PC Power & Cooling PSU's and they will put new caps and fan in for me after the 5 year warrenty runs out and re-warrent them for a low price.

Z
magnetic emulsion that tends to move to the outside of the disk over the years of spinning? I have to admit I have never heard of this. So eventually the only part of the platter you can read/write to is on the outside tracks where the "magnetic emulsion" has not spun off the drive?
June 14, 2006 5:03:17 AM

Has anyone ever formatted an NTFS drive with some other filesystem, like RiserFS or ext3? Within the formatter program, it gives a warning that this MAY hurt the drive. I too thought it was BS, until my primary (nothing important, just windows and SUSE) started randomly crashing and it got a very low score in speedfan's SMART analysis. Now I am beginning to think maybe there is something to this.

Just so everyone knows, before I started messing with linux on this hard drive, it was completely NTFS and came off with a clean bill of health with a fitness level of about 90 percent. Now, 9 months and about 10 os' later, I have started experiencing technical difficulties and the like. It now comes out with a horrible bill of health and a Zero fitness level.

Could be the drive going the way of the dodo due to its old age, or maybe its just what they said. I guess I'll never know. I may just use this drive as a nice paperweight or a test drive for new/refurbished PC's that I may build.

Woulda been nice not to have to buy a new hard drive out of my very meager budget though.
June 14, 2006 5:12:32 AM

Quote:
This can take 9-12 hours for 150GB drive...but it refreshs all the data,repairs bad sectors ect so that the heads now line up with the magnetic emulsion that tends to "move" to the outside of the disk over the years of spinning.

magnetic emulsion that tends to move to the outside of the disk over the years of spinning? I have to admit I have never heard of this. So eventually the only part of the platter you can read/write to is on the outside tracks where the "magnetic emulsion" has not spun off the drive?

What I read some time ago is that each track can move a tiny bit, so if you don't occsionally re-write, which realligns the tracks, the head doesn't stay cenetered during reads and the data can get noisy or "go away", even though it's still there, just displaced slightly. Each written bit will diffuse over time at a rate in part dependant on the magnetic properties of the emulsion, so drives that are not spun can die even if the motor, head transport, etc., is still functional. I've never seen any supporting measurements, but I know of IT people that do the maintenance ZOD describes for the same reason. I also know IT managers that run HDs till they either bite it or have problems that are obvious. Others cycle in new drives on a schedule then either sell, give away or relegate the old ones to a low priority position in the network.
June 14, 2006 5:37:51 AM

A good hard punch.

Someone actually came into the comp repair place I was working at and was complaining that their OS wasnt loading. We determined that it was a hard drive error, and when we opened his shuttle case to look at the drive, there was a big dent in it. When we asked the customer about it, he replied "I was mad about my load times."

As soon as he left we all cracked up.
June 14, 2006 5:46:09 AM

EMP would be my favourite... :wink:
June 14, 2006 6:09:47 AM

I have installed probably 20 distro's of linux on a 10 gig laptop drive and multiple times with some of those distro's. I'm always trying new versions, never had a problem or a message saying it would damage the disk. I've also tried about a dozen firewall distros on a 20gig wd and no probs ever.

Long ago i.e. 10meg hd's, you needed to rewrite each sector occasionally to keep the magnetic particles charged, current drives don't need that, and sure the material may slowly migrate to the edge but I bet it would be slower than glass running.

I do run spinrite on my main systems and all my servers once a year, more as an overall health check than anything else.
June 14, 2006 6:10:16 AM

I've been reading this thread, and I couldn't resist commenting on some of the fallacies and misconceptions

1)
Quote:

Yes, frequent formatting will play into the expected life of the drive, especially full formats instead of quick ones.


Wrong - during format, the only thing that's written are the filesystem structures, and if you elect to do a full format, the HDD surface is scanned. Read/writes do not shorten the drive's life expectancy, spin hours do.


2)
Quote:

Now to keep them from getting out of "wack" and data corruption issues I run SpinRite on each drive two times a year.
This can take 9-12 hours for 150GB drive...but it refreshs all the data,repairs bad sectors ect so that the heads now line up with the magnetic emulsion that tends to "move" to the outside of the disk over the years of spinning.


SpinRite is made by Steve Gibson, and if you use it, you should at least not believe every piece of FUD that comes out of his mouth.

a - there's no such thing as 'magnetic emulsion that tends to 'move' - if in a modern drive, the heads become misaligned with the tracks in a manner uncorrectable by the drive's innards automatically, your drive dies. Kaput.
b - all that SpinRite ever does is forces your drive (by reading the sector then writing to it) to move the sector to a 'bad list', and replace it with one of the spares from the spare cylinders set aside for such purpose. Your drive already does it automatically (on read/write to bad sector) - SpinRite just goes over the entire drive. It's not a magic solution that makes your drive all better for future use - you use it once, recover what data you can and trash the drive.

Quote:

What I read some time ago is that each track can move a tiny bit, so if you don't occsionally re-write, which realligns the tracks, the head doesn't stay cenetered during reads and the data can get noisy or "go away", even though it's still there, just displaced slightly. Each written bit will diffuse over time at a rate in part dependant on the magnetic properties of the emulsion,


You are thinking of MFM drives, which had to be frequently 'low-level' (true low-level, not zero-fill) formatted, because the heads' frequent temperature changes caused them to misalign. On modern (read: > 10 year old) drives, all the servo and track information is written at the factory, and it's written permanently - your drive's innards don't even let you know it exists. You can't change it, or affect it in any way (and if you could - it would make your drive a brick, instantly)

Quote:

EMP would be my favourite...


EMPs don't erase magnetic storage that easily. To erase a hard drive, you need a constant magnetic field of 20 Terra (Earth's field is only around 0.4 Terra, if I remember correctly), for around 2 hours.
June 14, 2006 6:20:13 AM

That's what I'm talking about, now give us the chemical composition of the magnetic media and the physical properties of a spinning disk and the effect on the media :D 
June 14, 2006 6:42:43 AM

While I see a lot of potentially valid means for making HDDs un-usable, I must say that in actuality, many of those occurances would be rare, as well as the fact that after most of them, it would be QUITE possible to recover all of the data... It'd just cost you a few cool grand.

However, in normal, SANE treatment, I've found that it appears only really ONE thing is out there that all PC users (and in particular, enthusiasts/gamers) should be wary of: heat.

Since a hard drive is simply using magnetism to read and record data to a chemical medium, heat can REALLY mess with things here, even though the metals chosen for modern storage mediums (Platinum, Palladium, and Cobalt, if memory serves me correctly) are known to be fairly temperature-stable, you can still mess them up.

As a general rule, one should make sure to keep their hard drive's temperature as cool as they can within their case; waterblocks (let alone phase-change solutions) aren't necessary, but good airflow is. Generally, at or under 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) is good enough. More than that, and you could consider things risky. Of course, that's largely my opinion; I KNOW many will disagree with me there.

As far as the topic on hand... Formating a drive to ANY FS will, obviously, cause all data to be lost. However, since it will typically (unless it's a "quick" format) go through EVERY cluster on the drive, it can increase the wear on it. Spinning may be the main source of wear, but reading or writing do pose the potential for a mishap, which could render a cluster useless.

As for this only being said when formatting AWAY from NTFS... I really couldn't guess as to that. Since it does seem to write parts of the file table to areas that AREN'T in the early sectors of the drive, it could be what it implies is that with the new FS, you may wind up writing data to sectors that previously held file table sections. Not quite sure what bad that might bring, though...
June 14, 2006 6:45:04 AM

Quote:

EMP would be my favourite...


EMPs don't erase magnetic storage that easily. To erase a hard drive, you need a constant magnetic field of 20 Terra (Earth's field is only around 0.4 Terra, if I remember correctly), for around 2 hours.

ok, so this means I have to look around for other methods to kill my hard drives than the heart-shaped kitchen-magnets i have stored in my server-room :D 
June 14, 2006 7:08:08 AM

EMP can and does kill hdd's. EMP stands for Electromagnetic pulse in the same way you get electromagnetic waves, light, radio, x-rays etc. EMP knocks out electronics by producing very high electric fields many kV/m which induce currents in circuitry, these currents can be sufficiently high to blow integrated circuits up as a hdd has ICs on it, it is susceptile to EMP.
June 14, 2006 7:49:40 AM

And nuclear weapons. Or is that overkill?
June 14, 2006 7:53:26 AM

Quote:
And nuclear weapons. Or is that overkill?


not nearly is that overkill!! that's the way to go... i'd rather be hearing also about chemical agents that may attack and destroy a hdd.

but remind me again, is the topic confusing me a bit or should we be providing methods to kill a hdd or methods to keep them alive as long as possible? 8O
June 14, 2006 8:03:20 AM

put the HDD in a microwave
June 14, 2006 8:34:50 AM

Quote:
put the HDD in a microwave


been there... i also had some bad expiriences with raw eggs in the microwave oven... cleaning it was a b.... though

edit: how would u call it? discs'n'chips...
June 14, 2006 12:31:58 PM

Quote:
EMP can and does kill hdd's. EMP stands for Electromagnetic pulse in the same way you get electromagnetic waves, light, radio, x-rays etc. EMP knocks out electronics by producing very high electric fields many kV/m which induce currents in circuitry, these currents can be sufficiently high to blow integrated circuits up as a hdd has ICs on it, it is susceptile to EMP.


EMP also stands for Experience Music Project, a really cool place in Seattle that would never do a bit of harm to your HD.
June 14, 2006 4:54:04 PM

The data is not stored on the IC :) 
Given the platters, you can rebuild the data relatively easily
June 15, 2006 12:14:55 AM

Quote:
Has anyone ever formatted an NTFS drive with some other filesystem, like RiserFS or ext3? Within the formatter program, it gives a warning that this MAY hurt the drive. I too thought it was BS, until my primary (nothing important, just windows and SUSE) started randomly crashing and it got a very low score in speedfan's SMART analysis. Now I am beginning to think maybe there is something to this.

Woulda been nice not to have to buy a new hard drive out of my very meager budget though.


One time years ago I had an old drive and I wanted to format it for a newer computer. I got the warning that doing so might damage the hard drive, but I could try to force the format if I wanted. I tried to force it, and the hard drive died. Hoping that maybe it could be recovered I took it to a shop and was told that the old drive's sectors were different from those used on new drives and I had scrambled everything beyond recovery. That was years ago, the drive was only 6 meg or so, and probably very different from anything seen today. I can't say exactly what happened, only that it did happen, so yes, those warnings might be true.
June 15, 2006 12:28:35 AM

Quote:

One time years ago I had an old drive and I wanted to format it for a newer computer. I got the warning that doing so might damage the hard drive, but I could try to force the format if I wanted. I tried to force it, and the hard drive died. Hoping that maybe it could be recovered I took it to a shop and was told that the old drive's sectors were different from those used on new drives and I had scrambled everything beyond recovery. That was years ago, the drive was only 6 meg or so, and probably very different from anything seen today. I can't say exactly what happened, only that it did happen, so yes, those warnings might be true.


Hmm. That must be the problem that those warnings were talking about. Sounds kinda plausible taking into account the Linux community's affinity for support for outdated hardware. That must be why such a warning exists.

Quote:

but remind me again, is the topic confusing me a bit or should we be providing methods to kill a hdd or methods to keep them alive as long as possible? 8O


Either way. It's fun seeing what kind of destructive manners people can devise for data/hardware destruction.
June 15, 2006 6:22:20 AM

Quote:

One time years ago I had an old drive and I wanted to format it for a newer computer. I got the warning that doing so might damage the hard drive, but I could try to force the format if I wanted. I tried to force it, and the hard drive died. Hoping that maybe it could be recovered I took it to a shop and was told that the old drive's sectors were different from those used on new drives and I had scrambled everything beyond recovery. That was years ago, the drive was only 6 meg or so, and probably very different from anything seen today. I can't say exactly what happened, only that it did happen, so yes, those warnings might be true.



This would be a case of CHS (Cylinder-Head-Sector) access versus LBA access. Your old drive was probably formatted under BIOS' CHS access mode, and you tried to format it under LBA mode. This would destroy all the data on the drive, but it shouldn't destroy the hardware.
June 15, 2006 6:27:20 AM

Or they are really old MFM or RLL drives....
June 15, 2006 7:45:13 AM

It can indeed happen that a disc gets so scrambled that further formatting is useless - it appears dead.

However, there are several tools allowing one to, for example, do an inconditional erase of the whole drive (fill it with '0' on several passes). Some are made by the manufacturer (Hitachi provides Drive Fitness Test for their and IBM's drives), some others are generic (have a look at the Ultimate Boot CD, Disk repair section).

Most, if not all my drives are Hitachi now. And once every few months, I take one apart and check it. This actually allowed me to repair a 2.5" 5 Gb drive that wouldn't work at all, a 60 Gb that had bad sectors problems and a few others behaving erratically out of the box.

I also remap them several times; it is however true that sometimes, removing a NTFS partition to put an ext2/3 in its place can lead to erratic behaviour.

If that happens, just erase the MBR and remap the drive. It's long, but more often than not will do the trick. Say bye-bye to your data though.
June 15, 2006 8:32:50 AM

Quote:
By a negligable margin at best, formatting is the same as accessing data across the entire drive at once. Not exactly different from what most users do anyway, just all at once instead of spread out. And that depends also on the type of format.

I would venture to say nobody has ever killed a drive by formating it to death.

And 4-5 years isn't a great run for a well kept hd, they should last upwards of 8-10 if taken care of properly, even under heavy use. Most HD manufacturers state a 5 year life span, same as car companies stating 10 year life spans, they only do this so you don't bitch when the drive craters right after 5 years of life.


BS Please don't mislead people if you don't what you're talking about.

3-5 years is far more accurate. I replace mine for my primary system every three years just to be safe. In an office setting they may last longer but generally don't do the trashing the my home computer does. The newer drives may also last longer but no drive with 5 years on it should be trusted for anything important and no drive that is 5 years old or older is worth having. 10 years ago drives were measure in Megabytes it couldn't even hold my windows folder...

Frequently defragging on these large drives will significantly reduce their life if not done incrementally over time.


Alright, show of hands, who still has a 98/95 box lying around? (me with a 3,200mb drive) Let me ask you this, does it still boot? 98 being almost a decade old, and 95 surpassing that length of time, I dont find it hard to believe a drive can last longer then 8 years...

Explain:
June 15, 2006 8:35:38 AM

Quote:


However, there are several tools allowing one to, for example, do an inconditional erase of the whole drive (fill it with '0' on several passes). Some are made by the manufacturer (Hitachi provides Drive Fitness Test for their and IBM's drives), some others are generic (have a look at the Ultimate Boot CD, Disk repair section).



Hitachi = DFT
Seagate = Seatools
Maxtor = Maxblast
Western Digital uses a few either WDTools or some generics
June 15, 2006 9:02:02 AM

humans do... :mrgreen:
June 15, 2006 9:24:51 AM

ok, so let's go over what will and what won't kill a HDD

a hammer will
an EMP will
nuclears will
a microwave owen won't (nonono)
a regular owen will
operating constantly for more than 10^8 seconds will
in-case heat will
formats won't
dropping it will
often physical access to it will (due to static)
god will (if you are a bad boy)
you will (if it's too slow)
your girl will (if she sees that photos you got in it)
coke will
water will
dust will (if you take out the prottective cover)
lighniting/over-voltage-nasty psu will
drilling a hole in it will
June 15, 2006 12:13:42 PM

Or for any HDD:

Boot a Linux(or BSD) LiveCD of your choice.
[code:1:07c978e743]fdisk -l
//Find the listing that corresponds to the size of the drive you're looking for
//i.e. /dev/hda
dd if=/dev/null of=/dev/hda[/code:1:07c978e743]

Same effect, no artificial limitations that prevent it from working with other drives.
June 15, 2006 4:12:14 PM

Quote:

One time years ago I had an old drive and I wanted to format it for a newer computer. I got the warning that doing so might damage the hard drive, but I could try to force the format if I wanted. I tried to force it, and the hard drive died. Hoping that maybe it could be recovered I took it to a shop and was told that the old drive's sectors were different from those used on new drives and I had scrambled everything beyond recovery. That was years ago, the drive was only 6 meg or so, and probably very different from anything seen today. I can't say exactly what happened, only that it did happen, so yes, those warnings might be true.



This would be a case of CHS (Cylinder-Head-Sector) access versus LBA access. Your old drive was probably formatted under BIOS' CHS access mode, and you tried to format it under LBA mode. This would destroy all the data on the drive, but it shouldn't destroy the hardware.

Yeah, I know that with enough work, the drive might have been used again. Then again, it was a very old 6 meg drive, so it seemed much easier to just buy a new drive.
June 15, 2006 4:19:00 PM

What about a stampede of bulls? Surely they might dent it enough to make it inoperable.
June 15, 2006 5:22:35 PM

"One day at band camp" We had this HDD and we formatted it three times with three different operating systems. Man you should have been there :-)

Can you say "Mechanical"? ANY mechanical device is prone to failure for ANY number of reasons. You simply mitigate these reasons through good design.

Heat can be an issue, but given the operating temperature specs of the newer drives this is becoming less of an issue (quite a large range). I have left my notebook computer in my truck during a full night of -13 degrees F. It booted no problem "right after I let it come back up to the operating temperature range". Kinda cool seeing the condensation on the notebook evaporate away! ;) 

There are obviously three main elements to any HDD. Platters, Spindles and Read/write arm. If any of those three items become misaligned there is a problem. Heat can cause a distortion of the platters or the read/right arm. Not likely in normal operations but could happen in a poorly designed machine with very poor ventilation.

What we need is a frictionless bearing like a Mag Lev bearing. With a fixed read/write arm with pickups the entire length of the platter so it could read each sector in a fixed fashion. Then all you would need is a synchronization of the platter speed with the fixed read/write arm. This is similar to beam steering.

But this would only work well in computers that DO NOT MOVE.

By the way Mag Lev would also be beneficial since after the initial spin up of the device (slow) you would never have to wait for spin up again because you could simply keep it spun up. And the platter speeds could be MUCH higher if the platters were gyroscopically stabilized!

Edited to correct horrible typos!!
June 15, 2006 5:28:50 PM

K, now the short answer,

Heat and Vibration tend to be the main killers of HDDs.
June 15, 2006 5:40:24 PM

Quote:
ok, so let's go over what will and what won't kill a HDD
a microwave owen won't (nonono)

Why wouldnt it?
!