I have a Dell Latitude D610 laptop. It is 2 years old. I am on my third hard
drive. I just started receiving “CRC” errors. Is there something about this
laptop that could be causing all of these hard drive issues? My use is
typical… internet, office suite activity, adobe suite activity, music. My
security is good… Trend, firewall on router (Modem -> Router/Firewall
-> Access Point -> me). I am at a loss as to why my hard drives are not
lasting for more than several months!
For the record, I actually have three of the Latitude 600 family. I run a
D620, my wife has the D610 you have, and my older D600 is being used by an
And they’re all on their original hard drives.
The good news is that the type of failures that you’re seeing can help us
narrow down the search as to what might be going on. The bad news is that it’s
a short list.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
CRC errors are physical errors on the hard drive. Right away that
eliminates almost all thoughts of software. The fact that you’re running
typical applications and have a reasonable security set up is fantastic, but
doesn’t really apply to the kinds of things that would result in CRC errors
increasing over time.
So what does matter?
As I said, it’s a physical problem, so we look at physical causes. For hard
drives that typically means temperature extremes, and for laptop hard drives it
also means what I’ll call “handling”.
Like almost all components in your computer, hard drives both create, and
are sensitive to, heat. By that I mean that if they get too hot, they’re going
to fail. Typically that failure is either sudden and complete (it just stops
working), or possibly as you’re seeing, surface errors increasing on the
internal hard disk media resulting in CRC errors.
away that eliminates almost all thoughts of software.”
The problem is that the amount of heat that’s typically required to get a
hard drive to fail is much higher than you might think. So the fact that your
hard drive might be hot to the tough isn’t necessarily a sign of a problem –
they do run hot. In order to fail they have to get really hot. (I
know, that’s not a technical term, but how hot is too hot varies from drive to
drive, so I’ll just leave it at “really hot” as we discuss the concepts.)
Really hot can happen for two reasons:
Bad ventilation. One of the biggest problems with laptops
is how to keep them cool in general. There are fans trying to blow cooling air
through the machine, but depending on how you have things set up it’s often
very easy for the ventilation to be blocked or otherwise impaired. In other
words, the cooling system doesn’t, and the entire machine gets too warm.
Typically other components suffer first, but it’s certainly possible for the
hard drive to show failure symptoms first.
Continuous, hard use. First I have to say that with proper
ventilation this shouldn’t happen, but the practical reality is that
it does. If you use your hard drive continuously, and by that I mean the disk
activity light is on, solid, for hours and hours at a time, the drive is going
to get hot. Remember I said that the drive generates heat, and that’s not just
the drive spinning, which it does all the time,. but also the arms within the
drive moving back and forth as data is read and written to the various
locations on the hard disk platters.
And of course, both of those two things can happen at the same time: blocked
ventilation coupled with really hard disk activity over a long period of time,
and the drive could certainly overheat.
I’m sure you haven’t dropped your laptop recently. And it’s probably obvious
to you that doing so isn’t a good thing to do. A true drop is likely to do
external damage and dislodge components, but it could also do internal damage
to the hard drive as well.
What I see a lot of people do that makes me a little nervous is leaving
their computer on while they move it from place to place. Now, I’ll admit, I do
this as well in limited circumstances, but I’m very careful about how and when
I do it.
Carefully carrying your laptop to your next meeting in the office next door?
That’s probably ok. Late to a meeting and jogging down the hall with your
laptop running? Probably a bad idea.
Here’s why: when your laptop is off the “heads”, the actual read/write
mechanism that moves around and either floats over or gently touches the
magnetic media is typically parked in a safe area where bouncing around will do
little or no damage. On the other hand if the disk head is active because the
computer is on, and the computer and the drive within it get jostled around
enough, there is a chance that the head might come into damaging contact with
the magnetic media and create a tiny, perhaps microscopic, scrape. The result?
So if you’re regularly bouncing your computer around while it’s running,
that could result in the problems that you’re seeing.
And to tie it all together into a worst case scenario: if your ventilation
is blocked and your machine can’t cool down, and if your hard drive is
continuously active and generating even more heat, and then you bump, jostle or
drop the computer – well, I’d be impressed if there wasn’t some kind of error
So the advice is simple:
Keep your computer clean and well ventilated.
If you do run your hard disk continuously for extended periods, consider an
additional fan or cooling platform
Try to minimize bumps and shakes if you do move your computer while it’s
One last suggestion: you may be able to lengthen the life of your hard
drives by occasionally running Spinrite. The best way to simply describe Spinrite is that it’s
like formatting your hard drive without losing any data. Spinrite “refreshes”
the data on your hard drive and can often recover damaged sectors as well as
delay the impact of some types of pending failures.
There are two down sides to Spinrite: it does run the hard disk continuously
for several hours. I had to purchase a additional cooling pad to keep the laptop from overheating.
And Spinrite is not free.
But in my opinion it’s worth every penny.