020 3095 7740

The IT Blog for UK Businesses

As well as providing a range of IT Support Services, we provide a wealth of free information for UK businesses. 

All Hard Drives Will Eventually Fail

All Hard Drives Will Eventually Fail
The round disk platter holds your data in binary code by means of a magnetic charge written by the drive head.


Significant data loss can raise its ugly head at any time, sometimes without warning, grinding businesses to a standstill and home users upset and traumatised that they've lost their entire collection of family photos, music and personal information.This could be the result of a hardware failure whether electronic or mechanical or something more sinister such as a computer virus or malware.


As we continue to store an ever increasing amount of data on our devices, the impact of a hardware failure increases heightening the risk of business failure and personal crisis. 


Traditional SATA and IDE hard drive are mechanical devices containing moving parts. Unfortunately, These parts break, wear out and often need to be replaced. Just like a car, the engine or motor has a general lifespan of so many thousand miles before they require a service or otherwise fail completely. Hard drives are not maintainable by the end user as they are manufactured in an environment where the level of dust particulate is extremely low. When a hard drive fails, the only cost effective option is to replace. 


How Do I Know My Hard Drive Is About To Fail?

1. Repetitive sound of data access.

We've used this method primarily on laptops and it's quite a good indication that things aren't as they should be. As a computer owner, you should be familiar with the sounds the hard disk makes as it access data from your hard disk. A Read/Write error or (rw error, io error (input/output) as they are sometimes called) is when the drive has trouble reading and writing to a particular section of the drive. The drive will reattempt the process over and over and this is the sound you're looking out for. If you place your ear on the bottom of your laptop or a stethoscope if you have one, you will be able to work out that the sound you hear is repetitive and an indication that the drive is failing. 


2. Clicking Noise.

A head crash is typically where the device which reads and writes data onto the actual disk platter has malfunctioned. The clicking is the drives head moving ever so slightly backwards and forwards creating a clicking sound. This happens if the mechanics are broken or damaged. Whilst your actual data remains intact, the drive head cannot retrieve it. The only option you have is to send your drive to us or another data recovery specialist. An identical drive would need to be found and the working drive head swapped over. This procedure needs to be done in a special environment with no dust particles. A single dust particle can prevent reading and writing to that area of the disk. Typically the cost of these types of service are quite expensive, in the range of £800 or $1000 upwards.


3. Squealing or Screeching Noise.

Again, the abnormal sounds mean there is physical damage or a mechanical fault and the only option is by using a data recovery specialist.


4. Computer alert of a S.M.A.R.T Failure at boot up time.

These alerts generally mean something is wrong and the most important thing you can do right now is to back up your computer. The alerts are generated from statistical information gathered from the hard drive logs such as the number of errors occurred when reading data. If the number of errors exceeds the acceptable threshold, you will be notified and it's time to change your hard drive or computer system before the drive dies completely.


Solid State Drives are becoming more and more popular due to the increase in system performance they provide however the price point remains significantly more expensive to its predecessor. Recovering data from a solid state drive is even more difficult despite the fact there are no moving parts. There is generally no warning that an SSD is about to fail. One day it works, the next it doesn't. A solid state drive is made up of capacitors and other electronic components and circuitry. Electricity generates heat and this along with other factors, once again limits the lifespan of such technology. A solid state drive is expected to last around 10 years however they do degrade over this time. Just like a rechargeable battery has so many recharges printed on the packaging, the solid state has a theoretical maximum number of reads and writes. This is why you should never attempt to perform a defrag on your ssd as it would eventually have a detrimental effect on its lifespan.

Recently, the development of "ransom-ware" has meant that many of us have been affected by hard drives being totally encrypted by a "secret key" which renders data useless, unless of course you stump a significant amount of cash, usually in the form of bitcoin to retrieve the decryption key from the hacker and this doesn't always work. A virus removal service would not undo the damage caused by such sophisticated malware. 


TAKE ACTION NOW - before it's too late!

How to Back Up Your Computer, Mac or Server

Back up your data automatically every 15 minutes to 3 locations in the UK from as little as £29.99 per month.

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to replace your computer every 3 to 5 years. If you intent to keep your computer for longer, it's advisable to at the very least to replace your hard disks every 3 years. Cloning the old disk to the new can be completed quite easily and reinstalling windows and all your software is not necessary. 


Offsite Data Backup
​Backing up your data should be automatic, taking away the need to manually copy your data to usb sticks or backup drives. SysFix provide a cloud backup solution that once set, will backup your data from as often as every 15 minutes to multiple locations. We physically hold an encrypted copy of your data in our London office, A copy in our Milton Keynes based data centre and an extra copy on a USB drive at your location. This setup ensure that you're protected from every eventuality and unlike simply copying data to a USB drive or external disk, we keep multiple copies of your data. Need to recover a file you deleted 8 months ago or the file you accidentally overwrote an hour ago - we can recover that for you. 

Pricing starts at just £29.99 per month for a multi location automated backup.
Click the link or for more information and full pricing on our cloud backup system.


USB Drive Backup
Backing up to an external ​USB drive should only be done as part of a wider backup strategy. External drives are prone to failure just as equally as the hard drive inside your laptop or desktop computer. In fact, equally is probably the wrong word because these drives are I guess even more prone to failure because they can be knocked onto floors, thrown into bags as you transport the device around and unlike a computer where the drive is securely fitted, an external disk sits in just a plastic surround.

Tape Backup
Tape backup is performed with a suitable tape backup drive such as DLT drive (digital linear tape). These are much slower devices and the overall cost over its lifespan including replacement tapes make this the most costly option.