Articles in Category: Hard Drives (HDD)

Traditional magnetic-media spinning-platter hard drives in all shapes and sizes.

Hard disk under a stethoscope

Is My Hard Disk About to Die?

There are signs we can use to determine if a hard drive is about to fail, but it’s also common for a drive to fail without any indication at all.

Hard disk in motion with conceptual data

Should I Partition My Hard Disk?

Partitioning, or splitting a single physical hard drive into multiple drives, has pros and cons. I’ll look at those and make a recommendation.

Disk management dialog highlighting the Removal policy

What is “Quick Removal” and How is it Changing in Windows 10?

Windows is changing the default setting for “Quick Removal” for external drives. I’ll look at why, and what it means.

The backside of my NAS machine

Can I Use External Hard Drives as NAS Storage?

External drives can indeed be used as part of your own home-brew NAS. It’s probably easier than you think.

How do I get data off of the hard drive in a dead computer?

How Do I Get Data Off of the Hard Drive in a Dead Computer?

Extracting data from a hard drive in a dead computer isn’t typically difficult, unless it’s the drive itself that caused the problem.

Optimizing a drive in Windows

Should I Defrag My External Drive, and If So, How?

You can defrag your external drive using Windows File Explorer, from the command prompt, or using a third-party tool. But should you?

Chkdsk cannot run because the volume is in use by another process

“Chkdsk Cannot Run Because the Volume Is in Use by another Process” — What Does It Mean and How Do I Fix It?

Chkdsk checks your disk for errors at a low level, requiring exclusive access to the disk to do so. “Chkdsk cannot run…” means it doesn’t have the exclusive access it needs.

A Drive with All My Data is Showing as Unformatted — What Do I Do?

Occasionally, when moving a drive to another machine, it’ll show up as unformatted. I’ll look at some possible causes and actions to take.

Assign letter dialog

Can I Reassign My Drive Letters?

Drive letters, like C:, D: and so on are assigned by Windows to reference your hard disks. They are not cast in stone: drive letters can be changed.

Drive with no drive letter

Why Doesn’t My External Drive Appear When Plugged In?

When attempting to back up a new Windows 10 laptop, I inserted one of my external USB drives and … nothing. Here’s what I did.

External Drive

Can I Convert an External USB Hard Drive into an Internal One?

External hard drives are handy and portable, but occasionally, it might be nice to move all that storage into your PC. You probably can.

Western Digital Portable Drive

What External Drive Should I Get?

I’ll review the characteristics of external drives and include a couple of specific recommendations.

What's a CRC Error?

How Do I Fix a Cyclic Redundancy Check Error When I Try to Copy a File?

CRC errors happen when there’s a bad spot on the media of your hard disk. Data recovery and disk repair are often possible with the right tools — but you won’t need them if you have a backup.

Disk Management interface

How Do I View the Contents of My Hidden D: Drive?

Partitions may be hidden for good reasons. Here’s how to peek inside.

Disk Partitions

Do I Need All These Partitions?

Newer machines often come with multiple partitions. While it’s tempting to remove them, there’s little to be gained.

Hard disk failure is imminent

Hard Disk Failure Is Imminent! What Do I Do?

“Hard Disk Failure Is Imminent” is a message you want to take very seriously — so seriously that hopefully, you’ll have planned for it beforehand.

Hard Disk Drives

What Should I Look for in a Replacement Hard Drive?

It’s always a good idea to look for the “best”. The problem is that when it comes to hard disks, “best” is a moving target.

Linux file explorer

My Machine Won’t Boot, How Do I Get at Its Files?

If your machine won’t boot for some reason, there are a couple of approaches to try to get the data off its hard drive.

Invalid System Disk

How Do I Fix “Invalid System Disk” Error?

An “invalid system disk” error has several possible causes. Two of them will make you hope you backed up recently.

Manage Bitlocker item

How Do I Turn Off BitLocker on a Drive?

BitLocker is a fine approach to encrypting hard drives–especially the system drive. It’s also easy to turn off if you decide you no longer need it.

Delete Key

How Does Secure Delete Work?

There’s deleted, and there’s deleted. Secure delete is one approach to making sure your files can’t be recovered.

HD & SSD

Should I Defragment My SSD or USB Flash Drives?

We’ve all been told that defragmenting a hard disk is a good thing for performance – but the same is most definitely not true for solid state drives.

Flying Paper

Should I Run CHKDSK on My SSD?

CHKDSK and Defrag are different tools for different purposes, and have different side effects. One is OK on any drive; the other should be avoided on SSDs.

Data Loss

Why, or How, do Files Become Corrupt?

File corruption happens most commonly when there’s a hardware issue or bad sector on your hard drive. I’ll look at implications and preventative steps.

Broken Data

Can a Defrag Cause Data Loss?

Normally, a defrag operation will not cause data loss. Unfortunately, if there’s a pre-existing problem, a defrag could bring data loss to the surface.

SATA and PATA interfaces

What’s the difference between SATA and PATA and IDE?

SATA and PATA are two different and incompatible disk drive interfaces. PATA’s the old guard, but SATA’s taking over. I’ll look at the differences.

Shrink Volume

How do I create a new partition on my hard drive?

Multiple partitions can be useful at times. I’ll show you how to create a new partition by “splitting” an existing C: partition.

NAS - Network Attached Storage

NAS Drive Failure: How I Dodged a Bullet

I had an impending NAS drive failure. I’ll share how I got there, the mistakes I made, the things I did right, and the lessons I learned.

Can you secure a hard drive?

How do I secure a hard drive before sending it in for repair?

When sending your computer out for repair, you’re handing over everything on it, including your data. Options to secure a hard drive are limited.

Hard Disk Interior

Why won’t some files defrag?

When you defrag files the pieces of the file are physically arranged for quicker access. But you can’t defrag some files. At least, not easily.

Your Disk is on Fire!

How do I replace my system hard drive without installation media?

It sounds like your hard drive is dead. You are going to have to dig deep to get the computer going again.

Partitions A, B and free space

What’s a Dynamic Disk?

Chances are that you have a basic disk, and don’t need the functionality offered by dynamic disk support. Even if that functionality actually is kind of cool.

Disk Management

Can I Make My C: Partition Bigger by Taking Space from D:?

Changing the layout of the hard disk make the C: partition bigger requires a few steps, and occasionally special tools.

SD and MicroSD cards

Should I backup to an SD Card?

I see the appeal of slipping a little SD card into the slot of your computer for backups, but the safety of your precious data on that card has me worried!

SSD & HD

How Should I Use My SSD and HD Together?

The thing to consider is: what do we love most about solid state drives, and conversely, what would we worry about?

Open Hard Disk

Did My Boot Defragmenter Tool Actually Fix My Boot Problems?

A bad sector on your hard drive could be causing strange intermittent problems. I’ll show you an easy way to find out.

External HD Connected

Can you recommend a good external hard drive?

Quality and features in hard drives can change over time. So first, look at your needs.

Laptop and Drive

If I buy the same model replacement machine, can I just move the hard disk?

Replacing a hard drive on an identical model laptop might just work, but let’s make sure there are no misunderstandings here.

Your Disk is on Fire!

Why does my computer make a grinding noise when starting up?

A grinding noise and slow computer probably indicate the worse. Stop everything right now and back up!

My External Drive Is No Longer Visible. How Can I Get Its Contents?

If you’re backed up, this isn’t going to be a problem. Otherwise, there are only a few steps we can take to help us retrieve your data.

Will an external drive left plugged in be damaged if there’s a power surge?

It’s not just power you need to worry about; connected drives can also get malware. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself safe.

An Active Hard DIsk

Can I stop an “idle” computer from hitting the hard disk at all?

I’ll show you how to reduce the last little bit of disk activity happening on your computer, but is that really going to help?

Open Hard Disk

Why Am I Getting “Open Block” Errors from My Photo Program?

This feels like a hard-drive failure to me. There are several things you can check, but the most urgent thing to do is back up!

Explosion

Will I Lose All Data When My Computer Crashes?

It’s incredibly rare for a software crash to damage any drive connected to a computer. Other things, like a lightning strike, can do serious damage.

Explosion

Will a power loss cause data loss on SSDs?

When the power goes out, data loss can happen. Fortunately, it’s not more prevalent for Solid State Drives. No matter what kind of a drive you get, you should always protect yourself.

Will a failing hard drive have warning symptoms?

Hard drive failures happen. Everyone needs to realize that. You can probably guess my recommendation for staying safe.

An Active Hard DIsk

Does defragging too much harm my hard disk?

Defragmenting a hard drive speeds it up by moving pieces of files closer to each other. It does no harm except maybe waste your time if you do it too much.

Disk Drive

How hard is it to change a laptop hard disk?

It ‘s impossible to say how hard it may be for any one person, but, let me go down a list of things that you need to think about it when it’s time to replace a hard drive in a laptop.

How do I defragment a hard drive on Windows XP?

Defragmenting a hard drive absolutely has its place. There are several ways to get to the controls in Windows XP.

Does Having Multiple Partitions Shorten My Hard Disk’s Life?

Hard drives get laid out in fairly complex ways. Second-guessing how your disk heads move as part of a decision whether to use multiple partitions is not really a practical way to save a hard drive from failure.