An external hard drive is a simple and reliable portable storage device. With its large capacity, people save a lot of photos, videos, audio, and documents on it. The average lifespan of an external hard drive is around three to five years. It means that after three to five years, your external hard drive has a high potential to stop working, which results in disk replacement and permanent data loss.
However, many people like me have been using their external hard drive for over a decade. What makes the difference?
I have summarized the methods I use to keep my external hard drive healthy as long as possible and keep my data as safe as possible.
Protect your external hard drive from physical damages
You might say, “well… it is very obvious, isn’t it?” However, many people may not treat their external hard drive as gently as you do. They drop the external hard disk hard on the floor multiple times or fling it into their briefcase or backpack. The fierce vibration could possibly scratch the platters or move the header.
In addition, always keep your external hard drive away from water, dust, heat or corrosive materials. They could rust or damage the USB port or USB cable of the external hard drive, resulting in the external HDD not recognized by macOS.
Another thing to remember is to safely eject the external hard drive every time after you finish using it. The best practice is to always select the drive and choose “Eject”. Violent unplugging might hurt the USB port or interrupt the data transferring.
Be careful with the files or software downloaded from the Internet
In addition to hardware problems, the logical errors such as malware, corrupted file system, or corrupted files on an external hard disk could cause a failed disk and severe data loss.
Therefore, do not click on some spammy-looking links on the Internet especially in the email. Some links would automatically download malware or virus onto the external hard disk. Meanwhile, be careful with the software especially freeware downloaded from the Internet. The software from unreliable sources may contain malicious viruses to delete or damage the files on your external hard drive.
Besides, when you need to use any programs that can access your external hard drives such as data recovery software, backup software, and disk management tools, it is better to download from their official website instead of third-party pages.
Use your external hard drive properly
If you can follow the steps mentioned above, your external hard drive and the data on it will last longer than usual. If you can have developed a good habit of using the external HDD more properly, the disk will stay in good condition for a long time.
First, do not format the external hard disk too often. The more times you format the external hard drive, the more possibly it will get corrupted. The repeated re-writing of file systems in the same section on an external hard drive might cause bad sectors.
Second, detach your external hard drive from the computer every time you turn off the computer. Keeping the external hard drive connected to the computer all the time even during the computer’s startup and shutdown might cause unwanted data written to the disk.
At last, remember to back up your data on the external hard drive on a regular basis. Even though you follow all the tips here, the possibility of disk corruption and data loss could happen. To place another layer of security for your important files, it is recommended that you upload the files to the cloud storage or on another external hard drive.
Just put in enough carefulness and efforts, you can make your external hard drive healthy as long as possible. If, unfortunately, your portable hard drive is failing, don’t be afraid of a replacement because the repair may cost you more.