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Hard Disk Drive Myths Debunked Rev. 5.4
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Hard Disk Drive Myths Debunked!

This guide was written in response to the numerous fallacies about the hard disk drive that are still being propagated in many forum discussions.

As you read through this guide, you may think that some of these myths may have been made up. We wished that was true. We collected these myths from various discussions we heard or read over time.

To be honest, many articles have covered these topics. It would have been easy for someone to do a quick search online before imparting their opinions to newbies. Unfortunately, it became apparent to us that some folks just prefer to trust their innate instincts over logic and knowledge. As such, these hard disk drive urban legends have remained more popular than the simple truth.

So, let's get down to basics and examine some of these common fallacies or myths and debunk them!

Page

Hard Disk Drive Myths

1

Introduction, Questions & Comments, Revision History

2

Formatting a hard disk drive will kill it!
Formatting a hard disk drive deposits a layer of dust on the platter.
Formatting the hard disk drive will stress the head actuator.
Defragmenting the hard disk drive will stress the head actuator.
If your drive has bad sectors, formatting it causes more bad sectors!
Downloading too much *stuff* will reduce your hard disk drive's lifespan.
Insufficient power causes bad sectors.
Cheap power supplies will "slowly kill" your hard disk drive.
Your drive keeps spinning up and down because of insufficient power.
Head parking is the cause of loud clicks.

3

The head actuators' motor can fail due to excessive use.
Frequent parking of the heads will make the head actuators' motor fail earlier.
The hard disk drive only spins up when it needs to read or write data.
It is better to spin down the hard disk drive to reduce stress on the motor.
Sudden power cuts can cause bad sectors!
Bad sectors can be repaired by reformatting the hard disk drive.
You can "erase" bad sectors by formatting the hard disk drive.
You must format your hard disk drive to improve performance.
The hard disk drive can only be installed in the horizontal position.
You must reformat the drive in the vertical position before using it in that position.

4

Scanning for viruses several times a day can kill your hard disk drive.
"Excessive" head movements are bad for high-speed hard disk drives.
The small holes on the hard disk drive allow dust to enter and damage it.
It's okay to drop a hard disk drive as long as it is not running.
Hard disk drive companies cheat in the way they calculate storage space!
If your hard disk drive dies, freeze it to retrieve its data.
Hard disk drives run better / last longer below ambient temperatures.
You will lose 64 KB of capacity every time you format the hard disk drive.
The platters lose their magnetic propeties after being formatted xxxx times.
The more you write or modify data, the deeper you burn into the substrate.

5

Quick NTFS formatting causes bad sectors to appear.
Constantly rebooting the computer will damage the hard disk drive.
Formatting the hard disk drive causes changes in the surface of the platters.
The hard disk drive is more vulnerable to damage if not installed inside a case.
Touching the exposed PCB can damage it.
Shaking or moving a computer that has been put into the Hibernate or Sleep mode will damage its hard disk drive.
The read/write heads of a hibernating or sleeping hard disk drive sit on the platters for a quicker start-up.
Hibernating the computer will damage the hard disk drive.
4K Advanced Format hard disk drives are faster.
A higher areal density increases random access time.

6

Sticking magnets onto your PC will corrupt its hard disk drive's data.
You can quickly degauss or erase a hard disk drive by sweeping a magnet over it.
Degaussed hard disk drives can be reused later.
It is safe to move an external HDD that is still connected to the computer, as long as you first disconnect it using the Safely Remove Hardware feature.
You can fix hard disk drives by swapping their damaged PCBs.
7200 RPM hard disk drives are not good for notebooks because they use more power and generate more heat than regular 5400 RPM hard disk drives.
7200 RPM hard disk drives are not good for notebooks because they are more sensitive to shock and vibration.
Short stroking your 7200 RPM hard disk drive will make it faster than a 10,000 RPM hard disk drive!
You need to overwrite your hard disk drive at least x number of times with zeros and ones to prevent any recovery of data.
A 7200 RPM hard disk drive is faster than a 5400 RPM hard disk drive.

7

A dead hard disk drive can be revived by smacking the drive on the side when it spins up.
You can rescue your data from a dead hard disk drive by moving its platters to an identical "donor" hard disk drive.
A computer's weight increases as information is added to the hard disk drive.
You can overclock your hard disk drive!
Dust is bad for HDDs so they should always be kept inside a proper PC case.
The platters spin in a vacuum inside the hard disk drive.
It is easy for the CIA (or any other nefarious government agency) to recover overwritten data from a hard disk drive.
If your hard disk drive fails to spin up, knocking it with a hammer will unlock the bearings and get it spinning again.
Hard disk drives cannot spin faster than 15K RPM because the edge of the platters would break the sound barrier and cause the platters to shatter.
Never put a tablet (iPad / Nexus / Surface) with a magnetic cover in the same bag with a notebook, or the magnets in their cover will erase the date in your notebook's hard disk drive.

8

Using an AV-optimized hard disk drive in a desktop / server can cause data corruption.
You cannot boot off GPT-formatted hard disk drives if you are using Microsoft Windows.
Vacuuming the insides of your computer will fry the hard disk drive and other components.
SSHDs are impervious to vibration and shock.
SSHDs are more reliable than HDDs.

If you know of any myth that have not been covered by this guide, please tell us about it. We would love to add them to the current list of myths.

 

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Next Page : Myths #1 - #10 >>>

Questions & Comments

Please feel free to post your questions or comments here!

Date

Revision

Revision History

16-03-2004

1.0

Initial release.

18-03-2004

1.1

Added Myths #18-20.
Edited Myth #9.

07-06-2007

2.0

Revamped the entire guide.

17-07-2007

2.1

Redid the layout of the guide.
Corrected Myth #16 to differentiate between logical and physical bad sectors.

27-05-2008

3.0

Added Myth #21, Myth #22 and Myth #23.
Improved the menu.

02-06-2008

3.1

Added Myth #24 and Myth #25.
Added additional information to Myth #18.

08-08-2008

3.2

Added Myth #26 and Myth #27.

23-12-2008

3.3

Added Myth #28 and Myth #29.
Updated Myth #10 with information on click noises due to ramp load/unload technology.

23-07-2010

4.0

Revamped the entire guide.
Added Myths #30 to #33.

09-09-2010

4.1

Added Myths #34 to #35.

28-01-2011

4.2

Added Myths #36 to #38.
Updated Myth #26 on anecdotal testimonies that freezing hard disk drives that do not spin up can get them working again.

03-06-2011

4.3

Added Myths #39 and #40.
Updated Myths #5, #24 and #37.

23-07-2011

4.4

Added Myths #41 to #43.

04-08-2011

4.5

Added Myths #44 and #45.
Updated Myth #16 on the reformatting of hard disk drives to fix bad sectors.

19-08-2011

4.6

Updated Myth #26 on freezing dead hard disk drives to make them accessible.
Updated Myth #42 on degaussing a hard disk drive by sweeping a magnet over it.

19-10-2011

4.7

Added Myth #46 on 7200 RPM hard disk drives generating more heat than regular 5400 RPM hard disk drives.
Added Myth #47 on 7200 RPM hard disk drives being more sensitive to shock and vibration.
Added Myth #48 on short stroking a 7200 RPM hard disk drive to make it faster than a 10,000 RPM hard disk drive.

02-11-2011

4.8

Added Myth #49 on the need to overwrite your hard disk drive at least x number of times with zeros and ones to prevent any recovery of data.
Added Myth #50 on 7200 RPM hard disk drives being faster than 5400 RPM hard disk drives.

10-01-2012

4.9

Added Myth #51 on reviving a dead hard disk drive by hitting it on the sides when it spins up.
Added Myth #52 on rescuing data from a dead hard disk drive by moving its platters to an identical "donor" drive.
Updated Myth #26 with the theory on freezing hard disk drives that cannot spin up and statements from John Christopher, Senior Data Recovery Engineer at DriveSavers about this myth.

11-04-2012

5.0

Added Myth #53 on a computer's weight when information is added to the hard disk drive.
Added Myth #54 on overclocking the hard disk drive.
Added Myth #55 on dust affecting the hard disk drive and why it must be kept inside a proper PC case.

17-05-2013

5.1

Rearranged the guide to make it shorter and more readable.
Added Myth #56 on hard disk drives having an internal vacuum or low-pressure atmosphere.
Added Myth #57 on the retrieving of overwritten data by nefarious government agencies.
Updated Myth #52 on rescuing data from a dead hard disk drive by moving its platters to an identical "donor" hard disk drive.

01-07-2013

5.2

Added Myth #58 on knocking on a malfunctioning hard disk drive to unlock its bearings and get it spinning again.
Added Myth #59 on why hard disk drive cannot go faster than 15,000 RPM.
Added Myth #60 on keeping a tablet (iPad / Nexus / Surface) in the same bag with a notebook to prevent the magnets in the tablet and its "smart cover" from wiping out data in the notebook's hard disk drive.

10-07-2014

5.3

Added Myth #61 on AV-optimized hard disk drives causing data corruption when used in desktops or servers.
Added Myth #62 on booting Microsoft Windows off GPT-formatted hard disk drives.
Updated Myth #32 with a note on current ramp load / unload technology.
Updated Myth #60 with a note on the Apple MacBook Pro and MacBook Air's metal chassis.

03-09-2014

5.4

Added Myth #63 on the dangers on vacuuming the insides of your computer case.
Added Myth #64 on the SSHD's resilience to vibration and shock.
Added Myth #65 on the SSHD's greater reliability over the HDD.

 
   
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