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by Staff Writer
Most electronics don't require much attention, and your computer's hard drive is no different; yet there are a few things you can do to maintain your hard disk and protect the data that you store on it. Here are some tips for making sure that your hardware lasts.
Use surge protectors to shield your electronics. Power surges can wear or damage electrical components, like your hard drive. A surge protector can shield your computer and peripherals from that damage by diverting excess voltage into the ground wire in your outlet. A surge protector is basic protection for the data on your hard drive.
Make dust your enemy. Dust buildup makes great heat insulation. Unfortunately, heat can degrade your hard drive and other electrical components.
You can reduce your dust problem by keeping your computer case off of the floor. Cleaning inside your computer every few months will remove layers of dust on your internal hard drive.
If you have an external hard drive, wipe the case clean with a lint-free cloth. Always use canned air to blow dust out of vents and off of exposed electronics.
Make sure your hard drive is properly installed. If the hard disk makes excessive noise or you hear clicking, check the mounting. Hard disks should be installed either horizontally or vertically; otherwise, the hard drive disk itself may become damaged. If it's mounted incorrectly, remove and remount it properly.
Back up your data. Hard drives don't crash often. Laboratory tests indicate a "mean time between failures" (MTBF) of over half-a-million hours. Those statistics are impressive, but hard drive failure isn't the only risk to your data, which is what you really want to protect. Viruses and physical damage to your computer are also a danger to your files, so regularly backing up your hard drive is wise.
You can use an external hard drive to duplicate your hard drive or do regular backups. You can even keep the external hard drive on a different location and create a remote backup.
Burn a permanent copy of important files and photos onto CDs or DVDs. You can store important documents with a family member or in a safety deposit box.
Do a simple hard-drive upgrade. External hard drives are plug-n-play devices, so they are an easy way to add storage to your computer or do regular backups. Internal hard drives take a bit more work to install because you have to open the computer case and connect them to the motherboard, but you can install and set up a new hard drive without much trouble.
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