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Hard Disk Drive Myths Debunked Rev. 5.3
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Myth #31 :

Quick NTFS formatting causes bad sectors to appear. As long as you do a "slow format", formatting will not cause any problems.

Truth :

Formatting will NOT cause the development of bad sectors, whether it's a "quick format" or a "slow format". However, a "slow" or standard format is more likely to reveal bad sectors than a "quick" format.

When you do a standard format, the hard disk drive is also scanned for new bad sectors. This is why a standard format takes so much longer. A quick format will still reveal bad sectors that have been marked as such before the drive was formatted.

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Myth #32 :

Constantly rebooting the computer will damage the hard disk drive. Updated!

Truth :

This has a small grain of truth to it. The spindle motor has to work much harder when the hard disk drive starts up, as the platters have to go from complete standstill to several thousand RPM in a matter of seconds. It is conceivable that constant rebooting could shorten the spindle motor's lifespan. However, it is unlikely to significantly impact the hard disk drive's lifespan.

Older hard disk drives are rated for at least 30,000 start-stops. Even if you start and stop the hard disk drive 8 times a day, the drive is rated to withstand 10 years of such "abuse". Newer hard disk drives are rated for at least 50,000 start-stops, in which case, they would last at least 17 years at the rate of 8 daily start-stops.

Current hard disk drives use the ramp load / unload technology, which moves the drive heads away from the platters onto a ramp where they rest, instead of landing on a dedicated zone on the platter. This increases the amount of rated start-stops to 600,000. In other words, even if you start and stop these drives once every hour, they will likely last 68.5 years before failing.

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Myth #33 :

Formatting the hard disk drive causes some changes in the surface of the platters, that over time can render part of the platters unusable.

Truth :

Formatting, like all write activity, will not physically change the composition or structure of the magnetic media or the platter substrate. Therefore, no part of the platters will ever be rendered unusable by formatting or write activity.

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Myth #34 :

The hard disk drive is more vulnerable to shock and damage if it's not installed inside a PC case.

Truth :

Being inside or outside a case has no bearing on the vulnerability of the hard disk drive to damage from shock and vibration. As long as you do not subject the drive to shock or excessive vibration while it's running, it doesn't matter whether the drive is inside or outside the PC case.

A good PC case will provide a solid, stable base to install your hard disk drives. However, poorly designed cases can impart considerable amounts of vibration to the drives. That's why some purists prefer to keep their drives outside the case, or add rubber or foam dampeners to the drive bays.

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Myth #35 :

Touching the exposed PCB on the hard disk drive's underside can damage it.

Truth :

Yes, this is certainly a real danger, if you do not take proper precautions like grounding yourself or using an anti-static wrist strap, before touching the PCB. To be absolutely safe, ground yourself before you touch any hard disk drive, and even then, avoid contact with the exposed PCB. There's really no need to touch it.

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Myth #36 :

Shaking or moving a computer that has been put into the Hibernate or Sleep mode will damage its hard disk drive.

Truth :

This myth is based on the misconception that a computer that has been put into the Hibernate or Sleep mode (also known as Suspend or Stand By) is able to resume operation so quickly because the hard disk drive is actually still spinning.

The truth is in Hibernate and Suspend modes (as well as the newer Hybrid Sleep mode), the hard disk drive is completely powered down. The difference is in the Hibernate and Hybrid Sleep modes, the computer's entire memory contents are copied to the hard disk drive, which doesn't happen in Sleep mode.

Because the hard disk drive is powered down in all three power saving modes, shaking or moving the computer will not damage the hard disk drive.

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Myth #37 :

The read/write heads of a hibernating or sleeping hard disk drive sit on the platters for a quicker start-up.

Truth :

This myth has been said to be one of the reasons why a hibernating or sleeping computer can "wake up" so quickly. The claim is that the read/write heads are left sitting on the platters so that they can resume much quicker than if they were "locked down" when the computer is powered off.

Some even believe that the read/write heads would be sitting right at its last active position, ready to resume immediately from the last read/written bit when the computer "wakes up".

Fortunately, there's no truth to this myth. Otherwise, the loose heads would be bouncing around and damaging the platters every time we carry our laptops!

Whether the computer is turned off, hibernating or sleeping, the hard disk drive is always turned off. The hard disk drive will either park its read/write heads at a dedicated parking area (Contact Start-Stop), or on a special ramp (Ramp Load/Unload). Modern hard disk drives will never leave the heads sitting on the recording surfaces of the platters.

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Myth #38 :

Hibernating the computer will damage the hard disk drive.

Truth :

There have been claims that the Hibernate power saving mode will damage the hard disk drive. A variety of causes have been postulated :

  • "Excessive strain" of writing the entire memory contents in one go (which can range from 2 GB to 8 GB or more, depending on the system memory size).

  • The read/write heads are left sitting on the platters for a faster start-up, thereby causing damage to the platters whenever you carry or move the computer.

  • Hibernation can damage the hard disk drive's MBR (Master Boot Record) - mechanism of action unexplained.

  • The speed at which the memory contents are copied to the hard disk drive introduces errors, which can cause failure to resume or BSODs (Blue Screen Of Deaths).

Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Let's address those claims one by one :

  • The platters of a hard disk drive spin at a fixed spindle speed, whether the heads are actively reading or writing, or just idling. Therefore, the "strain" of writing the entire memory contents is no more strenuous than writing a very large HD movie or just idling away.

  • See Myth #37.

  • Hibernation will not damage or corrupt the Master Boot Record.

  • The speed at which the computer's memory contents are copied to the hard disk drive is no different from the speed at which other files are copied to the hard disk drive. Hard disk drives also employ error checking to ensure that all written data are free of errors.

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Myth #39 :

4K Advanced Format hard disk drives are faster

Truth :

Numerous armchair pundits are recommending hard disk drives with 4K Advanced Format Technology because they believe that these drives are much faster than hard disk drives that use the older 512 byte sector technology. Their reason - the 4K sector is more efficient and allows for higher areal density and therefore, throughput.

They are correct in theory, but in practice, such Advanced Format hard disk drives are significantly slower than their legacy format cousins. This is because the first-generation Advanced Format drives are actually operating in emulation mode.

These Advanced Format drives have 4K physical sectors as advertised, but emulate 512 byte sectors to ensure compatibility with older hardware and software. This translation from 4K sectors to 512 byte sectors and back saps performance, causing the drives to perform slower than their 512 byte sector counterparts.

For more information on the performance effect of the 4K Advanced Format Technology including benchmark results, please take a look at The Western Digital Advanced Format Performance Comparison Guide.

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Myth #40 :

A higher areal density increases random access time

Truth :

At least one hardware reviewer has been caught spouting this myth. According to him, packing more bits into the same amount of space makes each bit "harder to target" by the head that is moving across the platter. Hence, a slower random access time.

Well, that may be true if you are trying to hit a small target on a spinning dartboard, but it's not true for hard disk drives!

Random access time is determined by the physical attributes of the hard disk drive, namely :

  • Spindle speed - the faster the platters spin, the lower the random access time.

  • Platter size - the smaller the platters, the lower the random access time, if all else are equal.

Random access time can also be affected by changes to the hard disk drive like partitioning or short-stroking the hard disk drive. However, random access time is not affected by areal density.

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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.



<<< Myths #21 - #30 : Previous Page   |   Next Page : Myths #41 - #50 >>>

 
   
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