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How Often Do You Replace Your Hard Drives? 254

Telemachas asks: "I recently purchased a Dell P4 2.8 GHz swap meet computer with a 200 gig hard disk for a good price and all is working fine. It does not seem prudent, however, to trust my data on a swap meet item. For another @ $ 75.00 each I can purchase new 200 gig HDDs. I would also like to do my first RAID system. I am now wondering how often, if at all, do Slashdot readers replace their HDDs?"
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How Often Do You Replace Your Hard Drives?

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  • Uhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omeger ( 939765 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @01:47AM (#16865034) Journal
    When they break?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by matt74441 ( 1000572 )
      I second that. I like to avoid wasting money whenever possible, but thats just me...
      • Re:Uhh... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by acidrain ( 35064 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:36AM (#16865428)

        Seriously. The older a drive is, in my experience the less likely it is to die. The first six months are the worst.

        But then I'm running a pair of drives as raid 0 for speed, and figure if you loose important files due to disk crash, you needed to learn your lesson about backups the hard way.

        Next time I'll do raid 1 as I'm told that some controllers manage to combine reads from both drives to get the same speed as raid 0. Size is so cheap these days there isn't much point not to do raid 1. Twice the speed of a normal drive and a vastly reduced chance of having to reinstall everything.

        • Try RAID 1+0
        • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:17AM (#16866802)
          Seriously. The older a drive is, in my experience the less likely it is to die. The first six months are the worst.
          This is known as the bathtub curve. If you plot failures against time then there is a high level at the beginning (the tap end) which decreases quickly as any weak or substandard components fail. Then there is a long flat bit as everything runs as normal with a (hopefully) low chance failure rate. Finally, as the components reach their end of life the failure rate begins to rise giving the shape (well, use your imagination) of a bathtub.

          With hard drives the far end of the bathtub tends to be obscured by obsolescence.

      • by Heir Of The Mess ( 939658 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:46AM (#16865492)

        I third that

        Never start replacing components unless it's the power supply or fans. Normally once my hardware starts screwing up I just sell the whole thing at a swapmeet as generally all the components will start all screwing up together.

        Err, good luck with your new machine.

      • They're better when they're fresh! Just ask your local IT guy, he might even have some fresh drives which will be better than your tired old one.

    • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:05AM (#16865178)
      Of course. For HDDs the Time Between Failure distribution is just too broad.

      If you replace them on a schedule, you're still not guaranteed 100% reliability because a drive can fail way before MTBF, and you waste the drives that wouldn't fail if you had kept them. Seems like a lose-lose situation to me.

      So backup often, or use RAID. Replace the HDDs when they break.
      • Re:Uhh... (Score:5, Informative)

        by gameforge ( 965493 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:20AM (#16865280) Journal
        I entirely agree with everything you said, except this (minor nitpick, if nothing else):

        So backup often, or use RAID. Replace the HDDs when they break.

        There's really no replacement for backing up your files.

        RAID 5 (or mirrored RAID, if that's your favorite flavor) protects against a single hard drive dying. But if the RAID card dies, you lose everything, especially if it's a proprietary card that's hard to find (more likely on a personal server); I've tried interchanging 3ware controllers and Highpoint controllers, and they couldn't read each other. Additionally, if more than one drive dies, you lose everything. Or, if there's some other problem (you know, the one you didn't think about before you setup the RAID) and the array gets corrupted somehow... well, you lose everything.

        RAID can be a good supplement in addition to regular backups, but it's not a complete replacement.
        • Right (Score:3, Insightful)

          by XanC ( 644172 )
          The redundancy buys you reduced downtime in the event of most failures. Go with multiple RAIDs in different systems (or cities!) for backup.
        • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

          RAID 5 (or mirrored RAID, if that's your favorite flavor) protects against a single hard drive dying. But if the RAID card dies, you lose everything, especially if it's a proprietary card that's hard to find (more likely on a personal server); I've tried interchanging 3ware controllers and Highpoint controllers, and they couldn't read each other.

          This is why you use software RAID.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by lukas84 ( 912874 )
            No, that's why you have maintenance packs on your servers.

            When your controller fails, it gets replaced OnSite by service technician, no matter how old it is. We use IBM xSeries, and still have some older machines operating. We bought Out-Of-Warranty ServicePacks for them, they're now 5 years old.

            A controller in one of them failed, 3 hours later an IBM technician was OnSite with a new, same controller, replaced the card, and the machine was up and running again. That was a 5 years old IBM xSeries, with dual
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by munpfazy ( 694689 )
          What's more, there are a lot of other data-loss scenarios for which RAID won't help you at all: namely, anything that either destroys the pc as a unit or anything that causes your machine to actively destroy data.

          To name a few:

          * disasters, natural or otherwise, that fry, crush or soak the pc as a whole. (Lightening, earthquake, broken water pipe.)

          * Theft or confiscation of your computer. (Sure, you can argue with the DEA that your drug dealing roommate never used your computer, and you might win and get y
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "When they break" is the correct answer.
      I replaced a drive because the new drive was getting rave reviews. One year later, the Deathstar died. The drive that had been replaced is still running in a friend's computer.

      Remember, RAID with mirroring or parity is just for fault tolerance. RAID is not a backup. In a normal desktop, I would buy a faster drive than spend the money on a RAID.
    • by arivanov ( 12034 )
      That is correct in two cases - if you have a RAID array and if you have purchased them from different batches in the first place.

      If you do not have raid at today's disk prices - you are daft. If you have built it with disks from the same batch - you are even dafter as they have an increased probability to fail at the same time. To make things even worse if one of your drives die in a RAID1 or 5 scenario the rest get loaded more and the chance of them dieing increases significantly.

      So if you have built a RAI
    • by TCM ( 130219 )
      I buy new ones when they have double the capacity of the old ones and provide the most bang for the buck. Most of the time the old ones still have some months of warranty left and you get some cash to finance the new ones.

      Right now I'm at 320G drives - most bang for the buck.
    • Saves a lot of hassle.
  • 5 years (Score:2, Redundant)

    by mikesd81 ( 518581 )
    I'm still using a 40 Gig HDD that came with a HP system (not in the same system any more) for the last 5 years. It's a Seagate. But I've used other drives that I've simply disposed of due to limited size and space in the tower that lasted for even longer.
  • by Salvance ( 1014001 ) * on Thursday November 16, 2006 @01:50AM (#16865056) Homepage Journal
    For home, I never replace a drive unless one goes down. I just have one drive backup to the other (and vice versa) at night, then store my important files at work.

    At work, we have everything setup as Raid 1, and only replace drives when they go down, which is rarely. Not sure if this is the best approach, but considering we take offsite incremental backups every 15 minutes it's not really a catastrophic event even if both go down.
  • I replace them when they die or I need more space.
    • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) *

      Everything I actually care about is backed up to DVD. Most of the cruft filling my hard drives is either easily delete-able, re-rip-able or re-install-able. Heck, I run RAID 0 on one PC, so it's fairly obvious that all the data on that is lose-able.

    • by Skidge ( 316075 ) *
      Same here. And if they're not busted, I don't replace, I just add a new one if there's room for it. I've only had one drive failure in the last 10 years. It was a 120 GB Maxtor, I think. I had my music library on it and a few odds and ends. Luckily, it failed after I had just finished copying the music over to my new (at the time) PowerBook.

      I've since added an external 300 GB external drive to my home network, and use it mainly for backing up my music and photos.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 16, 2006 @01:51AM (#16865062)
    One day too late
  • Preemptively replacing hard drives is dumb, sorry. Back things up and replace them when they die, because they will.
    • I replace one drive in my computer once every year for reliability and capacity reasons, but I use two drives. I take the most recently added drive in the system, which holds my data, and copy it to a new drive. I then copy the oldest drive (which contains the OS, Linux in my case) to my previously-newest drive. I finally put the oldest drive in an external enclosure, back up data that I'd like to keep as long as it fits, remove it from the enclosure, and shelf the drive until I need it. USB2 has made this
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Procyon101 ( 61366 )
        My experience is that new drives have a higher failure rate than drives in service for years. If I were to replace my drives as a matter of course, I have a feeling I would spend more time recovering from lemons than I would had I left the old drives in.
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      That depends. A year ago I finally replaced my 4GB root drive, not because it was failing (the bad sector count was still very small), but because it was taking space and power in my box and was heating up the new 200GB drive I installed next to it. I still have one server that's using the 800MB and 2GB drives I got with my original College PC back in 95, and those are staying because it doesn't need any more storage.

      I've found that if you pay attention to cooling on your drives (sadly, most case manufa
  • by gameforge ( 965493 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:05AM (#16865180) Journal
    I started building computers twelve years ago.

    The only drive I've had die before I retired it myself from sheer obsolescence was an IBM 20GB "DeskStar" model; this happened about five years ago, IIRC. The drive made noise and froze the system when I would read particular files; to my frustration, it occurred when I read some of the files that were important to me (documents, programming projects, one folder of MP3s, etc.)

    My solution was to put the drive in the freezer for a few hours; UNBELIEVABLY, it worked - I would have about ten minutes to copy as much as I could off the drive before it would start making noise again. I got most of what I needed off of it.

    Incidentally, IBM was very good about the whole thing; they sent me a new drive the day I called them. Too bad they sold their HD division to Hitachi...

    Anyway, I've had FAR worse luck with power supplies; I usually go through one of those every other year. Recently, ALL of the drives in my RAID 5 array (4x 120GB Seagate drives) as well as a fifth one (an identical Seagate 120GB that's standalone) started making noise at around the same time; of course I assumed there was some defect with this particular drive model.

    But thankfully, it turned out only to be my power supply (the +5V line would deliver +4.4V ~ +4.6V, while the +12V line would fluctuate between +11V and +13V). I can only conclude that Seagate drives are less tolerant than IBM/Hitachi's of power supply fluctuations, since I also have an old 80GB IBM/Hitachi Deskstar and a much newer 250GB SATA IBM/Hitachi drive, and neither batted an eye.

    Likewise, the system showed no other symptoms that pointed at the power supply; so a week or so ago, this post would have looked very different, with a few "F-You Seagate"'s thrown in there. :)
    • by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <{frogbert} {at} {}> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:37AM (#16865436)
      Just a tip on the power supply sutuation. Spend a bit of extra cash and get a name brand one. The fans are quieter and the lifetime is a great deal longer plus they are generally a lot more efficient.

      I'd always stinged out on the power supply but ever since I took the plunge and got a good one I'll never go back.
      • Can I ask for some recommendations? Little late at this point, but it would still be useful info. :-)

        The one that died was an Antec 430W; it came with my case and was manufactured in 2002 (although when I built it I put a 480W in there which I fried two years ago and switched back to the stock one; this was incredibly stupid of me. I blamed myself both times since I was running 6 hard drives, 5 case fans, an All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro and a Creative Live Drive, on top of the usual CPU cooler, CD-ROM, floppy,
        • PC Power & Cooling. Don't bother with anything else. I have yet to have one die on me, and I've been using them for around ten years. Their Silencer models are awesome.
        • I think they used to make good PSUs, but they went astray somewhere...I've had two Antecs die on me in the past 6 months now (the last one with the same undervolt and pissed off RAID controller symptoms that you mentioned).

          I decided to go with PC Power and Cooling 510W (~$200) for both my important machines. They have a (well-deserved, from what I know) reputation as having the best PSUs in the business. I would not, however, recommend going with the Silencer series as someone else in this thread recommende
    • I've experienced the same bad luck with power supplies. I have yet to experience a hard drive failure (I'm currently using drives from Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Western Digital and Samsung; I have a 5GB Maxtor manufactured in 1997 that still works fine), but it's a different story with power supplies. I've seen about a half dozen fry in the past couple years; the computer I'm using now, built in October 2005, is on its third one.

      I've been lucky to never have had to replace a hard drive. I've always been ab
      • by itwerx ( 165526 )
        Slightly OT but of possible interest to some.
        Seagate and Western Digital are the only two drive manufacturers who offer a 5 year warranty. WD is much cheaper, so many people go the WD route. However, WD's failure rate in that 5 years is almost 20% where Seagate's is barely 2%. So the question becomes - how expensive is your downtime?
        (Also, please note that while Seagate has acquired Maxtor, that does not mean that Maxtor drives are going to get any better any t
    • I've had similar experiences. My home office generaly has around 10 - 20 harddrives running in various, generally around 6 or 7, machines. A few years ago when HD's were around the 20 - 40Gb capacity I used to loose one a year or so, but always with indications of something going wrong and time to back-off. More recently I've not had a HD go for some considerable time but I've been loosing a PSU a year - they used never to die.

      Because I live in a rural location I've always keep a spare HD so I could back
      • More recently I've not had a HD go for some considerable time but I've been loosing a PSU a year - they used never to die.

        Sounds like it's time for a better UPS, one that filters the incoming voltages to protect against sags and surges. (I've seen power companies push >135V across the wires. My UPSs were complaining but handling it properly.)
    • I've had a lot of drive failures. I have three dead ones on my desk right now. A Segate Baracuda and two of the DeskStar drives you mention. The IBM ones are so bad they got knicknamed "DeathStar".

      I've also used the freezer trick to get data off. On one of the DeathStars I had to actually tap it with a hammer to get it going again. It was either that or the dataloss bin; it's not something I make a habit of!!

  • When they start to play the violin, it's time to kick their butt outta the case.
  • S.M.A.R.T. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:11AM (#16865224)
    I replace my hard drive when the S.M.A.R.T. info starts to signify problems, such as too many relocated sectors.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jandrese ( 485 )
      That actually works for you? For me S.M.A.R.T. always reports "everything's fine!", unless the drive is already rock dead. I swear it could be on fire and S.M.A.R.T. would tell you it'll be good forever.
      • by thelost ( 808451 )
        perhaps you got military specs SMART and didn't realize it.
      • by whyde ( 123448 )
        For me, S.M.A.R.T. predicted--almost to the week--when a Maxtor drive would fail. It gave me two months' warning, and indicated a projected failure date. I added a new drive, re-purposed the failing drive as "spare" storage, then waited to see if the prediction was correct. Dead on.

        S.M.A.R.T. cannot predict sudden catastrophic failure, but failures related to drives slowly "wearing out" over time are covered very well.

        One thing I have not seen in this thread is a discussion of which HD manufacturers are
      • Re:S.M.A.R.T. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:54PM (#16874334) Homepage
        A typical configuration for the smartmon-tools package for Linux will run a full SMART self-test every day. That test has caught three hard drive failures in the last three years for me (two Maxtors, one Seagate), all of which started screaming before any data was lost. In one of the Maxtor cases, the drive went down in flames so fast after the initial warning that I lost some data, the other two gave me enough time to make (another!) backup before tossing or RMA'ing the drive.

        I have considerably less faith in any of the Windows based SMART monitoring tools, as I haven't found any that seem to run an equally rigorous test on the drive every day. As you suggest, unless you run a good test, the drive is unlikely to generate useful SMART errors until it's too late. You can go crazy staring at the low-level statistics trying to figure out whether changes in the rate of the error rates there mean anything, but when the self-test reports an error that drive is done. For me, that's been early enough to be helpful while not causing me to toss the drive before it's truly worn out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vhfer ( 643140 )
        I'm sold on SMART. It's saved my bacon in a major way at least twice. I use it on my SuSE boxes and my WinXP machines. I have the schedule set up to run self-tests everynight and a long test every weekend, which causes almost no impact on the drive while the test is running. The testing algorythm is built into the drive, it runs on the drive, and doesn't consume memory or CPU on the host machine. Watch the logs carefully for relocated sectors and other tell-tales, like lengthening seek times. http://smar []
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:14AM (#16865244) Journal
    As I've already seen a couple of people say, don't preemptively replace your hard drives.

    Allow me to add: Here's why.

    Hardware failure rates follow a curve on average. They fail a lot after initial purchase, then slope down to their minimum after a couple of [relevant time periods] (probably "weeks" or "months" for hard drives, varies by what kind of thing it is), then slowly slopes upwards again.

    (Please do not miss the phrase "on average". Certain specific flaws can cause a certain product line to have unusual characteristics, like a sudden spike at six months or something. However, unless you somehow figure out a way to guess which hard drives are going to have such failures in six months when it's pretty amazing for the exact same hard drive to even be on the market for six months, the fact that these things can theoretically happen can't have much impact on your decisions. After all, if you knew that was going to happen, you'd just plain not buy the drive, period, regardless of the argument in this post.)

    Therefore, if you've got a "burned in" drive, you will be replacing a known-high-reliablility component with a component with a lower expected reliability. (I use "expected" in the probability/statistics sense here.) Unless you've discovered that you do have one of those funky products that all die in ten months, this is a bad move on average.

    I replace hard drives when they fail. I try to act as if they could die at any minute, although I fail.

    (But I try to get better. I'm in an all-laptop house, so it's difficult to have the convenience of an integrated backup solution and an automated, unforgettable script. However, with the recent Linux kernels finally supporting my SD card reader, I've gotten a high-capacity, slow, cheap SD card to stick in the previously-useless slot and I have an rsync now backing up the files I'd cry if I lost every hour. Sure, 1GB can't backup my entire system but most people's "cry if I lost it" datasets would fit into that. (Yes, there are exceptions... but if you're one of them, you've already got another back up solution in place, right? Right?))
    • Allow me to add: Here's why.
      It's even more basic than that, and it's something that SHOULD be burned into the skull of every technician, programmer, or IT worker by the time they've been messing with these silly machines for more than 6 months.

      • by qwijibo ( 101731 )
        But back it up so you have a plan B when it goes broke. This is the most basic thing that is rarely done in practice.
  • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:15AM (#16865250)
    Running Knoppix on a dumb terminal with only a cd-rom drive, network card, motherboard, etc. without a harddrive, and then backing up everything onto a server over a broadband internet connection. Off site data center takes care of data backup, redundancy, etc. No mess!
  • Fileserver (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mauldus ( 661873 )
    I don't upgrade single drives at a time. I have dedicated file servers to put the majority of my data on. The first was 8x20GB drives, then 8x120GB drives and my current is 8x250GB drives. I rebuild when I run out of space and can afford the upgrade. When I do, I take down the old system and have several drives to throw around in spare systems and friends computers. This happens every few years I guess. The file servers are all RAID 5 and I upgraded to a gigabit network with the last one so it's pretty spee
  • The last time I had to replace a drive (in my own system) was 3 years ago. Not sure what happened, just came home one day and my computer wouldn't even post with that drive installed. Was a 60 gig Maxtor that was still under warranty, they replaced it with a newer model. I still use that drive to this date along with a 120 gig thats about 2 years old and a 300 gig sata drive I got last month.

    From what I've seen harddrives have a very good life expectancy for electronics with moving parts. I know people stil
  • by Spit ( 23158 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:22AM (#16865316)
    And recover them from the backup. You do make backups don't you?
    • Damn. I can't believe I recognized your sig. I had to google it just to make sure I wasn't imagining things.

      You make me feel old.
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @02:29AM (#16865380) Homepage
    Until they start sounding funny, generally, but I always make backups of real data.
  • I've never had a hard disk die on my personal computers (Although I seen dozens of dead SCSI drives in servers) and never needed to replace one. If I start running low on space I just offload to firewire drives, DVDs, etc., but mechanical failure has never been an issue.
  • I have about 3 100gb drives, 1 300gb drive, and 1 200gb drive.

    I recently dumped them all in favor of 2 fast and quiet 320 gb sata seagate drives. First, because of power and heat concerns (I figure 2 hard drives compared to 5 would have less heat concerns) and second because of noise (the maxtor and samsung drives seemed unusually loud, like they were about to fail).

    For some reason my crappy sony DVD recorder didn't like sharing an IDE with a hard drive (yes, I tried all the different master slave and cable
  • I make sure I back up all my important data. When one craps out, I buy another one. Sort of a poor man's RAID 1.

    Never underestimate the power of simplicity.

  • I replace them only when they fail or if I need more space. Seriously, hard drives are getting cheaper every day. Why buy ahead if you don't need to? My home server's system drive is a 13GB Maxtor that I bought in 1998. I have Debian and swap installed on it. I keep all of my data on six 200GB drives with software RAID5. Sure, the 13 gig could die at any moment so I keep backups and run smartmontools [] to help warn me if it's about to die. But if it's not broke, don't fix it.
  • Check out smartmontools ( it is a very good way to keep track of drive health... but backups are always good ;-)
  • I have had to replace a few hard drives (in multiple machines) over the past few years. Maybe 1/4 of all my machines have had some hard drive problem. I've come to the point where I always have a regular backup system for all of my machines. If I could have a RAID-1 setup on my laptop I would. I have software RAID on most of my desktops/pseudo-servers. Maybe that's excessive (if it is non-essential stuff then a usb backup is enough) but I've had enough bad luck that I'm sick of losing data. And hard drives
  • It's been my experience that hard drives will either fail within a year or two, or will last quite a long time.

    Although I know from an engineering standpoint, that old drives would appear to be more prone to failure, I've observed that drive failures tend to be randomly distributed events. In other words, a new drive may be just as likely to fail as an old drive -- it's just a matter of odds and time.

    Swapping out an old drive for a new one does not even necessarily reduce the risk of failure. Many drives
  • It depends on price (Score:3, Informative)

    by hansendc ( 95162 ) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @03:51AM (#16865938) Homepage
    Rule number one: always keep an extra drive around. Drives are cheap, and they die regularly. Also, the cost of buying that _one_ extra drive is constant. You always have an extra drive around. It's not like you have to buy two each time you go to the store. You drives will die at 8pm on a Sunday night, just before you go on that 3-week business trip, otherwise. I promise.

    Rule number two: never spend more than $100. The best $/GB always seems to me to be in the $100 range these days. I usually make sure to pick up drives at Fry's whenever I see something substantially larger than what I have now for less than $100.

    Rule number three: Stay ahead of drive failures. If you have important data on those crappy, cheap $100 IDE drives, replace them every two years at least. In those two years, you can double your capacity for less cost. Use the old drives for backups of important stuff, just in case a newer drive bites the dust. Or, leave it as-is, and use it like a snapshot of your working data.
  • As someone who uses drives 24/7 (they are on all the time) it is better to sell them on ebay before their warranty is up. Now that Seagate has 5 year warranty on their standard drives, always sell them at around the 1.5-2 year mark and upgrade to newer drives. If you don't use your drives 24/7 and only use them much more rarely then you can get away with not replacing them longer but...

    I have learned the hardway from when I was younger: If you can afford RAID, even simply mirroring, do it. I use RAID 5
    • I use RAID 5 and there is no way I'm ever going back to a non-RAID setup, you save loads of time in not having to back stuff up to CD or DVD.

      Rules of RAID: (repeat after me)

      1. RAID is not a substitute for backups

      2. Your RAID array *will* scramble your data at some point in time. That or your file system will decide to perform the honors instead. And that's only if your fingers don't do the walking before that time.

      3. RAID is not a substitute for backups

      4. While your RAID array is rebuilding, yo
  • This may go against the grain here, but I replace my desktop drive about every 12-18 months. As I see it, here are the benefits of doing so: +1) The drive still has decent resale value at that point, particularly if you sell on a computer forum and not on ebay. This helps reduce the cost of the hard drive update. +2) Drive capacities are increasing quickly while costs continue to decline. This reduces the cost of the upgrade. +3) Replacing before the warranty period is up means that the likelihood of exp
    • I accidentally posted my comment (meant to click preview) without inserting my formatting tags. Please disregard and read this instead. Sorry!! -- Paul

      This may go against the grain here, but I replace my desktop drive about every 12-18 months. As I see it, here are the benefits of doing so:

      +1) The drive still has decent resale value at that point, particularly if you sell on a computer forum and not on ebay. This helps reduce the cost of the hard drive update.

      +2) Drive capacities are increasing quic

      • by ajs318 ( 655362 )
        You only need one overwrite pass to obliterate data forever. Even governments can't recover it (except perhaps by means of non-computerised [] techniques []). Fred in the Shed has no chance.

        Given the way prices for each component of a computer system have changed at different rates with respect to one another over the years, if four-dimensional storage was at all possible, it must have been economically viable at some stage (bear in mind that until the advent of solid-state RAM in the mid-1970s, computers u
    1. Buy drives with the longest warranty period you can find. At the moment this is Seagate (5 years on all drives) or Western Digital (3 years on their 'Special Edition' models). Buy from a local vendor or one that you know to use sensible packaging for shipping (in the UK, and pack sensibly, at least).
    2. Make sure the case they're installed in is adequately ventilated. Use

      smartctl -a /dev/hdx

      to check the operating temperature of the drives periodically, if your drives provide this attr

  • It is so very simple. You replace your hard drive when a new drive under $200 can contain your last five OS installations plus data, er. might have to buy a secondary sub-$200 part to help a little. Gee thats five years for less than $400.


  • I have two drives installed on my PC (w/ Windows) one is the applications drive and the other the data drive (though the biggest usually has two Linux partitions on it) and usually replace the smallest whenever it starts to get full often AND the price sweetspot for HDDs (i.e. the drives for which the price per Giga is lowest) is at a capacity two or more times bigger.

    Since i mostly use my PC for gaming (hence using Windows), the size of games usually dictates the amount of space used in both drives (since
  • ... is to, generally, not replace them until I see a data loss. (I'm pretty good about backing everything up; must be a habit I picked up at work.) I've had excellent luck with disks, though. After having a stiction problem with a 200MB Maxtor back in the early '90s, I've had only two disk failures since then: an old Seagate Hawk 2GB and a Compaq 18GB. I still have a couple of the 2GB disks running (in the firewall; they're big enough for that) and a slew of Barracudas. Those disks are at least ten years ol

  • Leaving my pc powered 24/7, I typically start seeing disk errors pop up after around 3 years. I replace it when it a.) fails or b.) generates SMART errors.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.