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6 Ways You’re Melting Your Hard Drive

Head and platters detail of a hard disk drive Seagate Medalist S

Every hard drive will eventually die given enough time, but just like with people, many go before their time. One of the most common ways hard drives die prematurely is that the device they’re inside of suffers from overheating. Here’s a list of the most common ways people cut the life of their hard drive, and computer, short.

1: Not Keeping Your Computer’s Innards Clean

Unless your computer is kept in the kind of clean room IBM builds their semiconductors in, your computer will accumulate dust on the inside. Dust build-ups keep heat inside your computer either by blocking the flow of hot air out of it, or by absorbing and trapping the heat. The best way to clean your device’s innards without harming the sensitive components is to use canned air to dust the innards of your computer regularly. Also be sure that no dust build-up has occurred in the vents themselves as well. Speaking of which…

2: Blocking Ventilation

Don’t ever allow the vents on your computer to be blocked. Ever. Even partially. Doing something like pushing your PC’s vents up against the wall, or stacking games on top of your Xbox 360’s vents is going to build up heat inside your machine. Placing a laptop on a soft surface like a bed or sofa is also a bad idea, since the laptop will sink into a soft surface and bury any vents on the side. Keep at least 1 foot of space between the vents and any obstruction.

3: Ignoring a Cooling System’s Warnings.

The cooling system is what is what pushes the hot air out of your computer, so keeping it operating is crucial for your hard drive’s long term health. A computer may detect if the system outright fails, but a merely under-performing cooling system also puts your computer at risk. If your computer feels especially hot and you cannot hear the cooling system going, it’s not working properly. Alternatively, if your fan does work, but it sounds like it’s working extremely hard even while the computer is barely using any of the CPU, that’s also a sign of overheating.

4: Placing Your Computer on Heat Absorbing Materials

Every material has its own level of thermal conductivity – how well is absorbs or dissipates heat. The material that makes up the surface your computer lays on can help or hurt its health. Cotton and polyester, found in things like carpets and bed sheets, are terrible at dispelling heat. Anybody who has left their laptop on their bed knows how hot the spot gets. By keeping all the heat at the source, you’re not only risking a hard drive failure, but also starting a fire. There are also many products out there that can help keep the temperature down, like cooling pads.

5: Keeping it In a Hot or Dirty Environment

Putting your machine in a place where the air is well above room temperature doesn’t do your cooling system any favors. It doesn’t just mean avoid putting your computer next to a fireplace or a heater, but having several computers right next to one another can mean one computer’s hot air is just being passed along to another. Also, if your computer is in a very dusty or dirty place, it will result in clogged up innards.

6: Leaving Your Computer Case Open

You might think that opening the case of your computer will keep the computer cooler. Wrong. Firstly, the cooling system of your computer is designed to direct cool air to very specific parts of your computer’s insides. Opening the case will disrupt the specified circulation of cool air. Secondly, the case protects the innards from dust and dirt, and nothing conflicts with Top on this list like an open computer case. Just say no to open cases.

Ways to Recognize the Problem before Damage is Permanent

A computer with heating issues is not the most hidden thing in the world. If the surface of your computer is too hot to touch, you can imagine how hot it is on the inside. Other common symptoms of an overheating computer include constant freezing, slowdown of performance, memory errors, blue screens, unprovoked shutdowns, and failure to boot up properly. If software issues and viruses can be ruled out, you’re likely looking at an overheated machine.

Most computers track figures like CPU temperature and fan speed through their BIOS, but have no built-in utility to tell you. However, if you want access to this information, many programs that will tell you this information exist on the internet and are a Google search away, like HWMonitor and SpeedFan. One you see temperatures enter the 140°-160° F range, you likely have a problem.

If it’s too late and your hard drive has already failed due to overheating, our certified data recovery technicians here at SalvageData can recover your data. Simply submit your case through our website in the top right corner to get started.