With advances in technology and consistent software updates, computers are built to last for years   and even to keep up with technological progress without significant modifications. However, if you store priceless family photos and personal documents only on one device, there is always a threat that may encroach sooner than you think. I'm speaking of the dreaded hard disk crash.

It may not happen today or even tomorrow, but one day, when you're right in the middle of typing a thesis or catching up on work, your entire computer could crash, leaving you staring at a blank screen. It's the equivalent of your car's engine shutting down unexpectedly while you're driving. Just like that, you could lose all your pictures, videos and important documents. With the potential for crises such as these, backing up all your information on a desktop external hard drive is well advised.

You may blame yourself for your desktop hard drive crashing, but more often than not, it actually isn't your fault. The main causes for hard disk drive failure stem from mechanical and electronic issues. Many people do everything they can to prevent putting anything magnetic near their laptops, but the truth is, your computer would need to be proximate to an industrial-sized magnet for it to have any impact on a few of your files. Even a very strong magnet will not wipe the entire drive.

All drives, including the best hard drives, will fail in time. It's inevitable. The leading cause of hard drive issues happens through a process called head crash. The read-and-write head sitting just above the platter is meant to last, but if you drop your computer or if it's bumped abrasively while it's reading the disc, it can start to scratch the platter, which can eventually lead to data loss.

Another significant cause of hard drive failure that happens over time deals with the drive's air filter. Air filters trap dust particles, but if one slips through an air filter and lands on the disc, it will damage entire sectors. Also, if you have a faulty air filter, it can lead to overheating, which will definitely harm the drive and shorten its life.

Many people claim that viruses completely corrupt hard drives. There is good news and bad news related to this idea. The good news is that if this happens, you don't need to throw out your hard drive, because viruses only attach themselves to software. The bad news is that you may need to reformat the hard drive or reinstall your entire operating system to access the hard drive after a virus attack.

Human error is only a small percentage of what leads to hard drive failure. However, you would need to go out of your way to cause the damage. If you delete files from your computer that may seem unnecessary, they could actually be files that are required for your computer to run. Also, it's best not to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast while sitting in front of your laptop. Hard drives have no defense against water or liquid damage. Not only will liquid burn out your hard disk, but it will damage the motherboard as well.

If you can find a cord that defends against power surges, it is absolutely recommended. Whether a power surge is caused by lightning or a quick power outage, it will interrupt the disk being read and restart it quickly. This will definitely affect the read-and-write head and may cause your computer to crash.

There are several causes for hard drive failure that naturally occur in time. Many of them can be prevented through regular maintenance and diagnostic programs. However, if you're truly concerned about losing personal information and digital scrapbooks, it's best to invest in an external hard drive to back up the files on your PC.

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