How To Avoid Hot Weather Hard Drive Failures

It’s not just people who suffer in the heat. Data recovery services also report a big uptick in business. What strategies do you need to follow to minimise the risk of hard drive heatstroke?

Burning picture from Shutterstock

Adrian Briscoe, APAC general manager for data recovery specialists Kroll Ontrack, says that January invariably sees an increase in drives sent in for recovery after failing. “We always have a spike at this time of year,” he told Lifehacker. We’ve seen a 12 per cent increase in hard drives coming in for data recovery this year.”

The most common drive failures are in external hard drives. While they’re a great backup option, they aren’t engineered for continuous operation. “What we are seeing with 3TB drives is that there’s a lot of capacity held in one single drive inside an external casing,” Briscoe said. “A lot of people leave their drives running all the time, and they fail faster as a result. Typically a server will have an enterprise-grade hard drive which can run in continuous operation for longer spells, but cheaper external hard drives aren’t designed for that.”

Home users also don’t replicate the continuous cooling found in data centres, even though many residences now have extensive home servers and make use of basic RAID. “A lot of home users are investing in big NAS boxes, but you can have a point of failure where the whole unit overheats and you lose more than one drive,” Briscoe said.

If you do experience a drive failure, self-repair isn’t advised; no matter how knowledgeable you think you are, there’s a good chance you’ll make the problem worse. The ultimate defence, as always, is to have a well-developed backup strategy. If you are backing up to an external drive, make sure you have a duplicate of that device as well.

The other notable trend? People wanting data recovered from iPhones after dropping them in a pool or ocean. That’s feasible, but recovering stuff that has been deleted is much harder because of the iPhone’s unusual file system.

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