Hard Disk Life and How to Maximize Hard Disk Life!

I’ve always wondered how long a hard disk’s life is if you left it on 24 hours a day (which I do with some of my server computers).

Well on average, according to this site,

The average service life of a hard disk is usually given as “5 years or 20,000 hours.” This means if a hard disk operates 24 hours a day, you will need to replace your drive with a new one every 1.5 to 2 years. (For specification details, refer to your hard disk drive’s user manual.)
The measure of service life used by most hard disk manufacturers is “mean time between failures” (MTBF)*1 (usually quoted at between 300,000 to 500,000 hours). The ratings (for expected service life) used by PC makers are more conservative, as they are based more closely on “real world” usage conditions. Since expected service life and MTBF figures can differ by hundreds of thousands of hours, we recommend you use the expected service life value. For example, the usual service life of a 2.5 inch drive will be almost 5 years or 20,000 hours, if used at the temperatures specified for your PL. However, if a drive is operated continuously, i.e. 24 hours a day, its service life will be shorter.

Also, there’s a way to put your hard disk under sleep mode on most operating systems, I suggest you to turn that on:


I see no reasons why you should leave your hard disks on if you have left your computer for couple minutes or even hours.

For Windows operating systems, go to ScreenSaver->Power then set “Turn off hard disks” to “After 3 mins” so you save both power and your hard disk life.  Also digitgeek.com has a great article on maximizing more life out of your hard drive.

3 Responses to Hard Disk Life and How to Maximize Hard Disk Life!

  1. Kiekeboe100 says:

    If you advise people some thing, you might want to make sure you provide them with good information.
    Most drive failures happen when spinning up a hard drive. In a worst case scenario where you use your computer a minute and then leave it for 5, this would mean your hard drive is spinning down and up once every 5 minutes.
    I'm sure this will make your hard drive wear down a lot faster.
    Also, I think most people don't even use their hard drives longer than a year. New technology, faster hard drives, bigger hard drives will make you upgrade them faster.

  2. zedomax says:

    Good point but I think most people will use their computer every 5 min, that's not realistic, my point was based on realistic use.

  3. mifffo says:

    kiekeboe is right, most hard drives fail because when the spin up or down. the air cushion that the read/write heads float on stop exsisting as the rpms of the drive decreases. so eventually the heads scrapes against the disk surface however most disks have a special landing/take-off zone that is made to withstand this. but still the read/write heads can only withstand a certain number of spin up/spin down cycles. the manufacturer often states the amount, i think its around 50000 cycles for some disks. Laptop disks often suffer from this problem since their poweroptions are always to shut down the hard drives after a short while

    and BTW it has been tested that hard drives last longest when they are 35-45 degrees celsius. and not when kept at around room temperature of 20 degrees. so no point in trying to cool them to the extremes like some do. This most likely has to do with thermal expansion possibly also the lubrication they use might have better properties slightly warm.

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