The Norman Transcript


January 19, 2014

Stop bashing, overtaxing your computer’s hard drive



One major way that people bash around their hard drives is with heat. Hard drives do not like prolonged, high temperatures. As with automobiles, computers have cooling fans designed to remove hot air and provide cool air to protect sensitive components, like the computer’s processor and hard drive.

If the flow of air becomes restricted, your computer’s hard drive can overheat and fail prematurely.

This is why I cringe when I see computer towers that have been stuffed away inside a cabinet with a closed door. That computer is destined to overheat and die before its time. I also cringe when I see computers that are kept on the floor, rather than elevated on a shelf or desktop.

The fans inside those floor-bound computers act just like vacuum cleaners, sucking all kinds of dirt, dust, pet hair and other crud inside the machine. Over time, that computer’s cooling system will become clogged up with all that nastiness, causing the computer to overheat and fail.

The same goes for those slots you see on the bottom and sides of laptop computers. Those are cooling ports, designed to let the laptop’s tiny internal fans pull cool air into the machine. Block those ports by setting the laptop in your lap, on a cushion or pillow, or constantly use the laptop in a dirty environment and it, too, will overheat and its hard drive will fail.

Another reason for hard drive failure, especially with laptop computers, is that we actually, physically bash them around. We jostle them, we drop them, sit on them, slam the lids shut, let them bounce around in our cars and throw them around like beanbags.

The reality is that hard drives are fragile, sensitive devices built to extremely close tolerances. Many of the internal hard drive parts called “platters” used in laptops are actually made of glass. One good crunch, and there goes all your stuff, forever.

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