In our experience, drive failure is one of the most common reasons why computers stop working. Like most machines, the hard drive in your computer can be damaged by mishandling or poor maintenance. Taking the proper steps (listed below) will go a long way toward helping keep your computer in good working condition.
Maintaining Your Drive
Hard drives are one of the few mechanical parts of your computer. While most drives are pretty well sealed, keeping your computer in clean, dust-free areas – especially when it is running – definitely will help keep your machine running smoothly. Spraying a little compressed air through the fan area of the computer (while not running, of course) helps prevents the buildup of harmful contaminants.
Dropping your computer is really hard on hard drives, as it can damage or misalign the head of the hard drive, or affect the disk’s ability to rotate inside. Although hard drives (particularly those in laptops) are much more rugged than they used to be. for the sake of your hard drive, try to always use your computer in relatively stable locations.
Defrag your Drive
Over time, the hard drive can become “fragmented,” slowing down performance. Defragmenting your hard drive can help improve its performance by rearranging the data on it in a way that makes it easier for your computer to access it. Computers running newer versions of the Windows operating system (Windows 7 and up) have a Disk Defragmenter that runs on a schedule, taking care of this problem for you. For older versions of Windows, you’ll have to manually run the Defragmenter program. Got a Mac? Macs usually don’t need to be defragmented. (It can be done, but is a pretty complicated process.) If you are a Mac user and really want to know, check out this post in the Apple Support Communities section of the Apple website.
One clear sign of a failing drive is hearing the drive spin. If you start to hear your hard drive spinning or the sound changes over time, your drive may be failing. Back up your data immediately, and consider having the computer looked at by a professional.
So remember: by keeping your computer dust-free, on your desk, and your hard drive defragmented, you’ll be doing a great deal of the work to keep your computer running along, happy and healthy. (If you have concerns about your hard drive, Geek Squad have Agents standing by to help.)