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Your hard disk is probably the most valuable single component in your computer. For an example, imagine how you would feel if your hard drive became damaged and you couldn't access the years of data you have collected.
Fine performance and an extended lifetime are two reasons that hard drive maintenance is beneficial. If the hard disk performs well, it has a better probability of survival for a longer life span. That’s why proper maintenance of your hard disk is necessary.
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Prevent Overheating at all Costs
Heat is the single most dangerous enemy of electronic components. If your hard disk overheats, you need to take immediate action to correct it. A frequent fluctuation of temperature is also very dangerous for a hard disk. You can monitor the temperature of your hard drive using a small utility like the commercial "HDD Temperature" or any number of other, possibly free, utilities on the Internet that you can download.
Record the maximum temperature after working for an hour. If it exceeds 500 C then that’s not a good sign. The best option is to install a cooling fan for your hard disk. If you can maintain the temperature between 300 C - 450 C, it is good for a longer life for your hard disk.
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Use a Good Power Supply
One of a main reason for the failure of hard drives is problems with a PC's electrical supply. Frequent power-outs, brown-outs, and fluctuations of voltage may be disastrous for a hard disk. This will definitely shorten the life time of a hard disk while gradually reducing the performance of the drive. Therefore it is necessary to use a high quality uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to deal with line feed problems.
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Defragment Regularly to Improve the Performance of Your Hard Disk
Defragmenting is very reliable way to improve the performance of a hard disk. In the long run it has a positive effect on its life time too. If you usually copy and paste files a lot, then you should consider defragmenting at least once a month. It's even better if you can defragment every three weeks or so if the PC has high usage. You can reach defragment utility in Windows XP by simply right clicking the particular drive and then clicking on Properties and Tools respectively. After defragmentation the files are arranged in an organized manner so that it is easy to access the files. Then hard drive can read the files with less effort while increasing the speed. Therefore defragmenting the hard disk is one of easy way to improve the life time of it.
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Reduce Over Usage
Some programs are hard on the hard disk. The indexing service in Windows helps us search for files faster. It is also responsible for reducing the speed of a computer. It is good advice to disable indexing service after about one or two weeks of installing your operating system. Since by then most of the files will be indexed, you still have the advantage of indexing. You can do it by right-clicking on the drive letter and by clicking on Properties. Then remove the tick under "Allow indexing service." Virus scans also scan your hard drive frequently. Therefore it is better to consider disabling their daily scanning feature. In most cases the daily scan is just a waste of your computer’s resources.
Also, if you access particular files frequently then it is better to have a separate partition for them. It will definitely reduce the work of the hard disk and improve the life span in the long run.
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Use Error Checking
As a result of heavy usage, your files and folder may have errors. Later it may be a reason for originating bad sectors. Therefore scan your hard disk for errors and bad sectors to repair them. This is a good habit if you like to maintain it well. If you feel your hard disk is very slow or some files report reading errors, this is not an option anymore. You can open the "Error checking" tool by right clicking the drive letter and clicking on Properties, Tools, and Check now respectively in Windows XP. Make sure that both options are ticked.
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Improving the life time of your hard disk is not a difficult task if you take immediate actions to prevent possible damages. Maintain it using the simple techniques above. A little attention now will yield you good results in the long run, and it is always better than hours of anxiety.