What causes damage to a hard drive

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In some previous articles, we have talked about how a hard drive is generally neglected when it comes to monitoring PC health, how they work, and how much damage can be done when your hard drive dies. But the question still remains; how does a hard drive die, anyway?

Like many machines with moving parts, sometimes a hard drive will simply die from old age or usage. But what about the other ways it can die – the more preventable ones?


Here’s a few ways that hard drives can suffer damage:


Given that your hard drive has an arm hovering above a spinning disk that can be running anywhere above five-thousand rotations a minute, you can easily imagine that having things touch or slam on the disk can cause some major damage. Moving the hard drive while it’s in operation runs the risk of the read-write arm hitting against the platter, which can cause damage. Damage on the platter can mean that a whole section can be rendered unusable, which will mean the loss and corruption of a lot of data, if not the hard drive.


In order to keep your hard drive healthy,  move your PC, laptop, or external hard drive cautiously while the power is on. For laptops, this rings especially true for actions such as throwing or dropping the system somewhere. A lot of technology has gone into preventing the arm from slamming into the disk due to movement, such as accelerometers that try to detect if the system is in freefall and adjusts the arm accordingly, but it’s best to do your part to not tempt fate.


The arm on the hard drive is designed so that it can change the magnetism of areas on the platter of the hard drive. This creates a complex series of magnetized and demagnetized sections on your hard drive that translates into binary – the language all computers talk. Therefore, if you get a magnet close or on the hard drive itself, the magnetic fields from your magnet can disrupt the carefully-arranged areas on your hard drive platter and corrupt the data on it.

Keep magnets away from the hard drive to ensure that the neatly-arranged magnetized sectors are kept the way they should be. Many a hard drive have seen some nasty data losses because the person wanted to screw something into their PC, and opted to use a screwdriver with a magnetized head. Don’t let this be you!

We’ve covered two culprits, but there are still more things waiting to hurt your hard drive.

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