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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Bad luck with hard drives! Is this normal?!?!?!
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05/28/2007 07:45:31 AM · #1
We are on our 2nd 'main' computer in the 8 years we have been married. (By main, I mean it is not our laptops or the kids computer.) When we had our first computer, the CPU started making a banging noise as if someone was taking a hammer to it. It was the hard drive and it was replaced thanks to a warranty. We replaced that computer with our current one 2.5yrs ago.

Now THIS hard drive is about to go!!! We luckily have been able to back up everything to an external hard drive. This is making a series of clicking and banging noises and the computer randomly locks up or shuts down. My DH opened it up and the noise is coming from the hard drive!

Are we having bad luck with hard drives or is this common????

I have 99% of my work backed up to an external HD as well as CD/DVD's. Now I am considering backing it up to ANOTHER external HD. Is this overkill? I just don't trust hard drives anymore...LOL!
05/28/2007 07:52:35 AM · #2
depends how much piece of mind your after regarding the external HD.

Harddrives, flash drives, cd etc can all fail. You could just be unlucky. Probably the best preventative thing you could do is filter your power supply - you may have noise or energy spike on your electricity supply. You can buy those powerboards with filters builtin. Its at least one place to start. Backing up is still a good idea - especially for stuff you never want to lose.
05/28/2007 07:53:29 AM · #3
is it normal? a lot depends on the nature of its use, its size, and the manufacturer. some HDs hold up better than others, especially under heavy use (which is prone to be the case in photography).

i recommend backing up to a point that you feel comfortable, then maintaining your backups (check your dvds/cds periodically, swap out older externals for newer ones, etc).

once an hd starts making 'abnormal' noises, you are playing with fire to be using it. good luck!
05/28/2007 07:57:24 AM · #4
Yeah, I am definitely NOT trusting the hard drive that is making a banging noise...LOL!!!

Our computer is plugged into a battery back-up/ surge protector combo. (It is a really good one.) Is that what you mean???

Our old computer was a Compaq which was a piece of you know what. Our current one is a Sony and is still a good computer by today's standards so we will probably just replace the hard drive and not the whole computer.

I have heard that you shouldn't buy a hard drive over a certain capacity because it is more likely to fail? Anyone heard anything like this???


05/28/2007 08:04:02 AM · #5
typical consumer HD warranty is one or three or five years so if you have important stuff (like most of us ) you are best off duplicating it every 2yrs - don't wait for it to fail -

05/28/2007 08:06:03 AM · #6
Well I have an HP that I bought in 2003 and maybe a year ago or something started to hear the hard drive more. It's a voice coil type of thing just like in a speaker and when it goes from one side of the disc to the other really fast you get the clicking sound coming out of it. Anyway it hasn't done anything yet. I have a lot of pictures on it. Lately I've just been using my laptop. I think I should get another drive and back it up like you have done just to be safe and retain the data while it is still alive.
05/28/2007 08:09:13 AM · #7
Originally posted by ssodell:

Well I have an HP that I bought in 2003 and maybe a year ago or something started to hear the hard drive more. It's a voice coil type of thing just like in a speaker and when it goes from one side of the disc to the other really fast you get the clicking sound coming out of it. Anyway it hasn't done anything yet.


The computer still is functioning, and was reformatted recently. If it wasn't spontaniously shutting itself down and locking up I might have a little more confidence in it...LOL. Anytime something memory intensive opens, the noise starts and the computer jams up.
05/28/2007 08:23:21 AM · #8
Originally posted by JRalston:

The computer still is functioning, and was reformatted recently. If it wasn't spontaniously shutting itself down and locking up I might have a little more confidence in it...LOL. Anytime something memory intensive opens, the noise starts and the computer jams up.


Yeah, it sounds like it's working noisily. They shouldn't be loud enough to hear unless you put your ear on the case. Have you defragmented it? This will line up all the files closer to each other and the hard drive doesn't need to go from one side of town to the other however many times per second. If it is one loud bang, well I'm not sure what it's doing. But if it sounds like a buzzing kind of sound it is just vibrating back and forth. And with enough passes back and forth per second (frequency), it will start to make a sound.
05/28/2007 08:26:06 AM · #9
I'm a bit paranoid (having lost work before), so I always have things backed up in 3 copies. So main HD + 2 external HD backups sounds reasonable to me. Just make sure it doesn't get too confusing...
05/28/2007 08:27:41 AM · #10
Originally posted by purpleflutterby13:

I'm a bit paranoid (having lost work before), so I always have things backed up in 3 copies. So main HD + 2 external HD backups sounds reasonable to me. Just make sure it doesn't get too confusing...


I HAD three copies until we had to reformat the hard drive...LOL. Now I am super nervous only have 2 copies! (DVD & external HD)
05/28/2007 08:27:53 AM · #11
Originally posted by JRalston:

Anytime something memory intensive opens, the noise starts and the computer jams up.


What OS, what processor, and how much ram does this machine contain? Did you re-install the OS yourself when you re-did the machine?

When memory intensive operations cause intensive HD activity, it usually means there's not enough RAM.
05/28/2007 08:34:36 AM · #12
Originally posted by fir3bird:

Originally posted by JRalston:

Anytime something memory intensive opens, the noise starts and the computer jams up.


What OS, what processor, and how much ram does this machine contain? Did you re-install the OS yourself when you re-did the machine?

When memory intensive operations cause intensive HD activity, it usually means there's not enough RAM.


Windows XP SP2
Pentium 4, 3.0GH
2048 MB of RAM

My husband did the whole reinstall. He is very good with computers.
05/28/2007 08:37:58 AM · #13
Here is the computer:
SONY PCV-RS720G

(we upped the RAM to 2gig)

Message edited by author 2007-05-28 08:38:26.
05/28/2007 08:41:05 AM · #14
I have a couple of smaller capacity HDs in my machine and an external back up. I also burn files to CD or DVD, so I end up with loads of backups.

Smaller drives are cheaper and if one fails, which is very rare, I can get another without too much expense. The biggest problem is when you have a large capacity drive, you tend to clutter it up with programmes, photos and files, and it is only when you have signs of a failure, you realise just how much data you have to backup. Also, how much you have lost if you failed to backup in time!!
05/28/2007 08:42:39 AM · #15
You could always get something like this RAID
05/28/2007 08:50:44 AM · #16
Originally posted by ssodell:

You could always get something like this RAID


YIKES! Pricey thing that is! LOL
05/28/2007 09:12:16 AM · #17
Next to power spikes, low voltage or just dirty voltage, heat is the biggest killer of computers. You don't realize just how much heat builds up in your cases and if any of the fans go out, or if the case does not have a proper amount of cooling fans, or if the room it's in is hot (like in the summer in an non-AC room) you are going to kill your CPU and hard drive very fast. Most cases don't allow for air to flow over the hard drives even if they have a case cooling fan. But under constant use of reading and writing (coping, backing up, opening very large files, saving very large files, etc.) the hard drive can get too hot to touch.

And though the name Sony is a good name, the Sony computer is on the lower end as far as quality and build go for personal computers. You could be getting refurbished drives rather than new.

I've got a couple of IDE drives that are going on 10 years old, several that are almost 7 years old and a bunch that are over 3 years old, all still running just fine (I've got over 1.5 terabyte of disk space in my main computer alone) and SCSI drives in another computer that are going on 6 years old. That's in my home personal computers that are rarely turned off for months at a time. Turning off and on a computer is very hard on a computer and usually when it will die. I turn the monitor off if I'm not going to use it for awhile but my computers only get turned off when I need to move them, clean them out, the occasional power failure or lighting storm. I do reboot them every now and then though, as Windows, Photoshop and a few other programs, have a tendency to pigeon hole memory and it needs to be freed up from time to time.

I use external Firewire and USB 2.0 hard drives for additional storage and for backup. I outgrew writing to CD, DVD and tape a long time ago. So I just keep adding on external drives. I've never had a drive fail, but I have lost a couple of external case power supplies and I've had to move the drives to another case.

Mike
05/28/2007 09:27:06 AM · #18
Mike- Thank you. I will pass the info onto my husband about your luck with those hard drives. He will be the one doing all the work!

We have numerous power outages in Guam. We can have none in a month and then get 3 per week for a month! Luckily, the power usually comes back on before the battery back-up dies. Our computers our left on 24/7, because I use them so much. The Sony, although it DOES have a fan, gets very loud. (Gets loud from the fan stepping up its speed.) Our friends have a Sony that does the same thing!

Writing to the DVD's IS a royal PITA. I do like being able to jot down everything that is on the DVD and flipping through and finding them easily. I was asking my husband if he could set up a couple hard drives so that when I saved to one, it automatically copied to another.

Maybe I should just let DH build me a computer???


05/28/2007 10:33:08 AM · #19
Also check to make sure the drive is not installed vertically.

At a recent photography conference, I learned that the manufacturers are seeing far more HD failures on the vertical drives. They say that the vertical position makes the HDs work much harder and build up heat faster and they tend to fail at a much higher rate.

05/28/2007 10:47:54 AM · #20
When did dos3.1 come out? I have an IBM industrial hardened model I bought way back then....$10k with 10m HD I still use almost daily. Could that be 25 years or more? I back it up to a more modern machine and floppies but I still use it.....in a dirty environment.

Is there a way to add extra drives to modern machines that write or back up to both drives automatically?

Message edited by author 2007-05-28 10:51:44.
05/28/2007 10:49:46 AM · #21
Originally posted by David Ey:

I back it up to a more modern machine and floppies but I still use it.....in a dirty environment.


What are 'floppies'?? :))
05/28/2007 10:54:17 AM · #22
Originally posted by formerlee:

What are 'floppies'?? :))


ask your wife or girlfriend
05/28/2007 10:57:05 AM · #23
Originally posted by David Ey:

Originally posted by formerlee:

What are 'floppies'?? :))


ask your wife or girlfriend


Ahhh! right, got you now. :))
05/28/2007 11:06:58 AM · #24
Originally posted by JRalston:

I have 99% of my work backed up to an external HD as well as CD/DVD's. Now I am considering backing it up to ANOTHER external HD. Is this overkill? I just don't trust hard drives anymore...LOL!


When it comes to HD failure, its not a matter of if, but when...

I know a pro snowboard photog who backs up every photo he takes three times upon downloading. He used three externals, firewire linked, writing to all three simultaneously. When they were full, he stored two in secure locations at his place, and mailed the third across the country to his mother for off site storage, in case his place got broken into, burned down, flooded, etc.

Storage is dirt cheap these days. You can get a good 500gb drive and a quality enclosure for it for under 200 bucks. Now, for a hobbyist, triple redundant backup is probably excessive, but there is no excuse to not have your photo library backed up at least once. If you're making money off your photography, you should absolutely be backing up several times.

05/28/2007 11:09:34 AM · #25
DOS 3.1 came out in 1984. I still have a couple of 286 12 mhz computers in the garage that have MFM drives that have DOS 3.3 on them and some 386 ones that have DOS 6. They still run too. I really need to clean out my garage. LOL!

If you are in Guam then not only do you have heat, you have humidity, which will also play a factor in electronic equipment.

I've always heard that you should format your hard drive the way you are going to run them... either right side up horizontal or vertical. I've heard that they are not designed to be run upside down though or on end. And if they have run a long time in one orinentation and they are changed to the other, that could cause failure because of wear patterns on the bearings from the old way. But under normal conditions, hard drives should last for years without problems. Of course what's normal for some of us might be extream for others. :D

Mike

Message edited by author 2007-05-28 11:10:27.
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