Hard drives die!
Don't gamble with the security of your data
Nobody wants to experience the pain and heartache of data loss. Hard drives die, and they die more often than you might expect. When your hard drive is just two years old your chances for failure and data loss are at about 8%. At three years that number creeps closer to 10%. Hard drive space roughly doubles every two years and the amount of data that we store is growing just as quickly thanks to digital audio, video and pictures. Also, with the size of hard drives increasing, folks are placing more and more data onto just one drive, which means if that drive fails, you could stand to lose a vast amount of data. With smaller drive sizes from years gone by, once you filled up a drive, you were forced to back up data to make way for new data. Here at MacMedics data preservation and protection is paramount. It's our job to make sure you understand the risks of storing and backing up your important data.
MacMedics' Top 5 Rules For Data Storage And Preservation:
1. Always have your data in two places. It's important that your data always be in two places. Hard drives die, and when they do, your data can disappear forever.
2. Hard drives have a hard and very high temperature life. Depending on what programs you use, how much you use your computer, how hot your computer gets, and how much shock and vibration it might be subject to, the life of your hard drive can be shortened by any of these or other factors. MacMedics recommends that, much like changing your car's oil, hard drives should be replaced every three years in desktops, and every two years in laptops. Hard drives are priced at an all time low, so it makes really good sense to install a newer, larger, faster, and more reliable hard drive. (See below for more info on our hard drive warranties.)
3. Use and maintain an automatic data back up program (or use Time Machine if you're using Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion). If your machine can accommodate a second hard drive, installing an in-unit back up might make sense. If you use an iMac or a Mac laptop, an external drive is what you need. Nobody ever keeps up with enough drag-n-drop data copies to keep up with their ever expanding data. In order for data to truly be protected and backed up, you need to remove the human element, and have a program do the work for you automatically. Having an automatic backup is only as good as the data that is stored in it. Make sure you test your backup frequently. Testing a back-up means you find a file, open it, and actually verify that the file is usable and totally functional.
4. Retiring your hard drive before it fails is more cost effective than waiting for it to die. Plus you get the side benefit of not losing any data while ensuring that your data is protected and maintained. When it's time to retire your hard drive, it's also time to re-build your system. Taking care of both items at the same time is simply the most cost effective way to maintain your Macintosh computer. With a new and possibly faster and larger hard drive installed in conjunction with a fresh copy of OS X, it's quite likely that you'll notice a boost in performance. If you're a MacMedics client on the Scheduled Service System, your assigned engineer will monitor your equipment and signal you when it's time to install a new hard drive.
5. If you ever hear your hard drive make a funny noise like popping, clicking, or grinding, turn off the computer and give us a call right away for advice. This noise could be a key indication that your drive is about to fail outright, or that it's starting to die. We often have clients tell us that they heard a strange mechanical noise coming from their computer, and it only happened once, or it went away, or it continued and they ignored it, only to end up in a bad data loss situation. It's simply not worth the risk, with hard drives as low as $100, just have the drive replaced and make sure your data is safe and protected.
Are you a MacBook road warrior?
MacBook hard drives seem to fail more often than others.
Here at MacMedics we see more in-warranty MacBook hard drives fail than any other type of Apple hard drive (laptop or desktop). This may be due to an issue with a certain type of failure in some MacBook hard drives where the assembly's read/write head detaches (ouch), making recovery impossible. Click here to learn how to check to see if your MacBook's hard drive is affected. As a result, we recommend that our client's MacBook hard drives be "retired" after 1 year of use. If you have a MacBook computer used for mission critical needs (or you're just really concerned about your data or spend lots of time traveling), then it might be wise to simply install a more robust hard drive as soon as you can. The MacBook's factory hard drive could be installed into an external case to make a handy back up drive. You could also carry your original drive with you as a "spare-in-the-air" back up loaded with a fresh OS and all of your applications in case your drive fails (thus rendering your MacBook useless in most cases) during a photo shoot or at a client presentation. The MacBook hard drive can be replaced in the field in case of an emergency, so having a spare drive with you at all times makes pretty good sense. We think that it's worth the $100 to have a laptop that you know you can count on when the chips are down.
Check your drive's warranty! - It should be at least 3 years.
If you buy a cheap hard drive, you might end up with a short warranty!
Hard drives are one of the best examples of "you get what you pay for". Hard drives have become so inexpensive, that they've turned into a commodity item. Who has the best deal on the largest hard drive today? Is it Best Buy or Office Depot? There are a number of factors to consider, such as speed, size, warranty, brand, and price. Buying a hard drive on its price alone is a gamble. We've seen no-name hard drives that have been in name brand external cases, that clients have bought on-line or from a big box retailer. When you're trusting all of your data to a drive, you don't want a no-name brand hard drive!
Name brand is the way to go, but buying one from the wrong place is also a gamble. Many famous hard drive brands offer their product with lower warranty levels to the company that sell drives for the lowest prices. We happen to like Seagate hard drives for their outstanding 3-year warranty. If you buy a "retail" Seagate in retail packaging from a big box store, it might only have a 1-year warranty.