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Hard drives are one of the most important components in a computer.  They are the devices that store your information, pictures, music, movies and emails.  While they are engineered extremely well, they do occasionally fail.

hard drive

What makes a hard drive fail?

Media Failures

A media failure happens if a drive is handled roughly causing the disk to be physically scratched.  If this has happened, there may be ways to recover your data, however you should consider how much the data is worth to you, as this can cost quite a bit of money.

Head Failures

The head failure happens when the read/write head (the arm in the hard drive) touches the platters (disk).  Often times data will be permanently lost if this has occured.

Mechanical Failures

Mechanical failures are the most common failures to occur.  The motor burns out, the drive overheats, the bearings wear out.  These errors are usually due to the drive being past it’s life cycle (we recommend drive replacement every 3 years.  Anything after that tends to be borrowed time.)

Signs a drive is going to die.

Drive failures can be one of the most tragic things to happen to a user, and unfortunately, sometimes drives just die with no way to see it coming, however they will happen.  This should illustrate the importance of backups.

Backups are far less costly than data loss.  And one should not count on data being recovered from a failed hard drive.  Often times


I want to smash this thing!Angry child

How many times have we all said those
words?  For some reason our computers seem run slower and slower the
longer we have them.  Often times people believe they need a new
computer when actually, their computer just needs a tune up!

Why computers run slow

There are many reasons our computers run slower and slower.  Here are the most common reasons.

  • Malware (fake antivirus programs, viruses, spyware, trojans, etc.)
  • Intrusive antivirus program
  • Too many programs running at once
  • Not enough hard drive space
  • Hard drive is fragmented

Ways to fix a slow computer

1. Remove any viruses or spyware on your computer.

You may not even realize that your computer has a virus or spyware running on it. In fact, most malicious code writers don’t want you to know you have a virus.

A good way to make sure you don’t have a virus is have an antivirus program that is updating daily.

Avast! has a free antivirus for personal use and works well.

AVG also has a free antivirus for personal use and works just as well as Avast! in my opinion.

Windows Live One Care is another free antivirus and malware scanner from Microsoft.

There are antiviruses out there however which are very invasive and can slow your computer down.  One has to make the assessment themselves whether they are happy with their computer’s performance and safety when they choose an antivirus.

If you think you computer might be infected already, run a scan with your antivirus.  It would be a good idea to check for malware also (many
antiviruses don’t detect malware).  Malwarebytes has a free version of their software for personal use and works very well.

2. Stop programs from running as soon as you start your computer.

There are usually a lot of programs that start running as soon as you turn on your computer, but there’s really only a couple that you need to run.  One is your antivirus, and the other is Windows Search if you choose to have search indexing on your computer.

To check which programs are running when you boot your computer:

For Windows XP

Go to Start > Run > and type in msconfig and hit enter

For Windows Vista and 7

Go to Start > and type in msconfig and hit enter

This window will open


Click on the Startup tab on the top right

You will then see this window


This is a list of all the programs that are going to run as soon as you turn your computer on.  This is whether you need them or not.  Most of the time you don’t need them to run in the background.

If you don’t know what one of the applications is, I advise against turning it off.  Make sure you google the Startup Item name first if you’re unsure.  I turn everything off in my startup tab except for my virus scanner since I always want that to run.

Once you’re finished, click Apply.

Windows will ask whether you want to restart your computer now or later.  That is up to you, but the changes wont take effect until you reboot your computer.

Once you reboot, you will see this window pop up first thing


This is just saying there were changes made to your system.  You know this already because you made the changes.

Put a check mark into the box by the line that says “Don’t show this message or launch the System Configuration Utility when Windows starts”

3. Free up hard drive space

Many times, music, videos and the like can fill up hard drives so there’s no room for our computers to work efficiently.

Go to Start and open My computer or Computer if you’re using windows Vista or 7

Right click on the (C:) and click on Proporties.

A version of this window will open

disk properties

The pink peice is free space, and the blue is used space.  If you’re free space is under 15% of the total drive space, you should consider cleaning up your hard drive.

Start with Temporary Internet Files by opening Internet Explorer or whatever web browser you use and clicking on Tools > Internet Options > and then Delete which is in the section marked as Browsing History > then delete Temporary Internet Files

temporary internet files

You can also go through your files and get rid of anything you might not be needing anymore, like old videos.

There is a fantastic program that tells you exactly what folders are using the most space called Tree Space Free.  Feel free to install that and check where your drive space is being used up.

4. Defragment your drive

Windows Vista and 7 defrags your computer automatically, however if you’re using Windows XP, this can be a real problem.  To defrag, go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmentor > Then click Defragment

You may have to run that several times, and it will take a very long time at first.  Possibly hours, however if your computer is running sluggish,
you will notice a big difference once it’s been defragged a few times.

This should be done regularily to keep your computer performing at it’s best.

I hope you’ve found this article useful.  Check back again for updates and more helpful tips!