Computer, Hard drive (PC and laptop) Question

By FastQuestion
Nov 17, 2009
  1. Hi there,

    I just wanted to ask a few questions to the purpose of satisfying a curiosity I have about computers (lap-tops and home PC).

    Are hard drive crashes common? Is there a definite cause? I have heard about desktops crashing, but I never get to know what causes it; so I’d like at least some understanding regarding this, for the effort of avoiding it.

    My other ‘question’ was not related with that, but I decided to just attach it. Has anyone else used and begin to have the search answers open in a new window? It is a nuisance for me and I just wondered if something could be done.

  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Hard drive crashes... Depends on the speed in rpm of the drive, and the brand and model...

    Generally, you should expect three years of reliable use out of a laptop hard drive made by Toshiba, Seagate, Fujitsu or Western Digital. Five years out of a desktop drive made by Western Digital or Seagate... two to three years on a Samsung, Maxtor, or Hitachi, and one year on a Tri-Gem... EIDE drives are more reliable than SATA drives, and large drives over 160 GB are less reliable. From 250 GB, 320 GB, 400 GB, 500, 750, 1 TB, 1.5 TB, and 2 TB are increasingly unreliable as the capacity goes up.
  3. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    The lap-top is Gateway – I don’t use it for much other than documents and select internet usage. I’m not sure about who the main computer was made by.

    So crashing does depend on something, or on certain factors? The stories I’ve come to know in the past seemed like random occurrences.
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Bah. Humbug! I (and all family members) have had the same disk on laptops and desktops for 3-5+ years with no hardware crash problem. In fact, all computers have been replaced BEFORE the hard drive (unless i chose to replace a hard drive simply to increase storage capacity). Your statistics are (again) overly broad, generalized and unsupported

    /* Edit */
    Crashing depends on a variety of factors both hardware and software.
    > Hardware crashes will depend on quality of the drive as well as your computer
    > Software crashes are much more frequent cause of a drive crash (and will often result in filesystem corruption which must be fixed - usually by running chkdsk or reformatting)

    Hardware crashes will usually mean you need to replace the drive. Bottom line: it requires some analysis to determine if the drive crashed because of h/w or s/w. IMHO: Recommending HD replacement purely based on age is a sign of someone who doesn't understand how to tell the difference between h/w and s/w crashes. Easier to just replace? yes. (albeit expensive for the consumer... but profit and easy for the repair shop)
  5. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    By hardware, do you mean the hard drive? I still do not fully understand what would motivate a computer (of either type) to, basically, implode.

    I don't know if it was just a coinkidink, but just a few days after I wrote, I read a news report about 1 in 3 lap-tops (including gateway) dying in the first 3 years. I acquired the lap-top I have in fall of 2006. While mine is functioning properly for my purposes, and do not fear an impending crash, I felt particularly involved with that article nonetheless.
  6. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    I have heard of double-posting being frowned upon, and I hope I’m not breaking any rules here. Can any conclusiveness be reached upon my last post?

    Oh, I also had forgotten about my including the 'issue' with’s windows here, but
    is there a solution or do y’all just deal with it?
  7. jasonbernal

    jasonbernal TS Rookie Posts: 24

    i would not worry about it they are making them better and better
  8. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    "I don't know if it was just a coinkidink,"

    Me, either. "Just" may be the operative word.
  9. bridgetbruston

    bridgetbruston TS Rookie

    There are two reasons of harddisc crash:
    Physical Reasons:
    A hard drive can fail due to many physical problems including scratched platters, broken read/write arm, hard drive motor failed, humidity or moisture in the drive, manufacturer defect, firmware corruption, bad sectors on disk, overheated hard drive,head crash, power surge, and water or fire damage to the hard drive.
    Logical Reasons:
    Logical causes for hard disk failure include failed boot sector, master boot record failure, drive not recognized by BIOS,operating system malfunction, accidentally deleted data, software crash, corrupt file system, cross-linked files, employee
    sabotage, improper shutdown, disk repair utilities, reformatted hard drive, repartitioned hard drive, software malfunction,scandisk error, data corruption, and computer virus damaged the hard disk.
  10. Kcircyrd

    Kcircyrd TS Rookie Posts: 216

    Two reasons? Or a compendium?
    The most common problems relating to causes are age, during which the magnetic media material bubbles up from the outer edge of the platters, heat which causes all sorts of problems, and failed bearings of the platters themselves.
    Secondary level... the circuit board of the hard drive has a chip or wiriing circuit failure, again due to age or to heat.
    Then there is the manufacturing level, where repair shops and experienced users know that certain drives fail due to manufacturing compromises... poor design and poor manufacturing.
    Hitachi, TriGem, and Maxtor will never recover from the bad reputations they earned by bad engineering and manufacturing.
  11. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    "i would not worry about it they are making them better and better"

    And you know this how?
  12. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    Just curious, but what about a Gateway manufactured laptop? I got the computer in the year 2006 – I take care of it, mind. I have been told (in real life) that I’m fine; but some paranoia has caused me to still go further.
    Would heavy (day-to-day), or just even moderate usage of the device, have any substantial or even sure effect on the computer’s lasting resilience?

    I’m aware of backing-up and flashdrives, but it is the crashing itself that gets to me. And why it happens to some people and not others.

    I am looking to wrap this up now actually, because of the nature of my coming timetable. Thanks, all!
  13. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    This seems like a case where “He’s dead, Jim,” would be reasonable, but I’ll try anyway. I addition to where I left off previously, I am also curious: could using the Outlet Power every time the laptop is used cause problems (“frying” as in overheating, or other)?
  14. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Actually it can, indirectly ;)

    If you always use the laptop whilst plugged into the wall, then you could remove the main battery. As the battery can heat up and therefore cause more heat related issues on your internal harddrive. Plus even the manufacturer recommends removing the battery if the computer will be powered for more than 3 weeks.

    So there you go :)
  15. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    Oh, I don't have the computer always plugged into the outlet 24/7 -- only when I have use of it day to day.

    To reiterate, do you reckon that a fondly-cared-for 3 year old Gateway laptop has much of a worry of complication?

    Have a happy holiday
  16. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Gateways are as good as any... in fact in our experience with a large number distributed to sales forces in four states, they are behind Lenovo in reliability, but way ahead of Alienware, Sony, and HP for reliability...
    Nearly all laptops need some major servicing after three yearsd...
  17. FastQuestion

    FastQuestion TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    That's the thing! The Gateway laptop is just a little over 3 years old. There is nothing to call a problem, or to indicate that it must go under maitenance (well, the mouse button is a bit worn). I don't know if it's just the care I give it (at least when compared to other people), or what.

    Happy New Year
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