Am I running my hard drive ragged?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by eyelikeart, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. Moderator emeritus

    eyelikeart

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2001
    Location:
    Metairie, LA
    #1
    After a discussion with my stepdad this evening, I'm very curious...

    I have a 120GB firewire drive that I use for music & photography. I pretty much run iTunes 24/7, so it's always reading files. I know that keeping a drive spinning is better than starting & stopping it constantly, but am I shortening it's life by running iTunes all day & night?
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Location:
    East Coast, US
    #2
    Re: Am I running my hard drive ragged?

    No, hard drives are rated for MTBF (mean time between failures), which, for most modern drives is about 120,000 or more hours. This is the amount of time the drive can be spinning. If you calculate this out it is years and years. Reading and writing data only moves the heads back and forth across the platters that are spinning underneath. The heads never touch the platters, so reading and writing files does not wear out your hard drive.

    So the answer is no, leave your computer on all the time reading files and you will be fine. Think about it: The web server this forum is on has to read from it's disk every time you request a page. Hard drives don't fail that often.
     
  3. thread starter Moderator emeritus

    eyelikeart

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2001
    Location:
    Metairie, LA
    #3
    Re: Re: Am I running my hard drive ragged?

    That's the same rationale I used...XM Radio being my example. I know many webservers also run at a constant, but wanted to know what the risk was. I know some bigger companies & such can afford more hardware replacement than others, but I just wanted to know from u guys. ;)
     
  4. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    St Augustine, FL
    #4
    The only problem with that example is that servers use heavier duty hard drives and parts in order to achieve that kind of reliability. The average Joe doesn't use a hard disk as bullet proof as those, but still, the drive should last for a long time.
     
  5. macrumors 68000

    MoparShaha

    Joined:
    May 15, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #5
    Kinda off topic, but......

    I've been wondering, is it better to let the hard drive always spin, or to let it spin down via the energy saver control panel. I ask this because the drive spins down so frequently. Its always starting and stopping when I'm using the computer. Is this bad? Should I just let it spin always?
     
  6. job
    macrumors 68040

    job

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2002
    Location:
    in transit
    #6
    eye: My original 10Gb hard drive which shipped with my iMac died last year. It was nearly 4 (5?) years old and I had iTunes running constantly. I never turned iTunes off, even when I slept, for almost 8 months. I'd say that while it certainly doesn't help your drive, I don't think you're looking at a major hard drive failure. I think my hard drive failure was partially due to the humidity in Houston (we had used the iMac in Germany) as well as the frequent electrical storms in the Houston area (lightning had struck our house and fried the motherboard of another Mac around the same time my hard drive failed.)
     
  7. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    St Augustine, FL
    #7
    The point being, HDs are made to be spun at high speeds for a great deal of time without problems.
     
  8. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #8
    3 years back I made the mistake of buying a tower over a laptop.. and shortly thereafter I got a job that required me to bring in my computer.. with my luck that stuff is bound to happen.. but ever since then I have hauled my tower to and from work 5 days a week.. the only time its not on is when its in transit between work and home.. this is a true testament to how realiable HDs are.. with all the starting, stopping, unplugging, tossing in the back of the car that I do.. be rest assured .. your hard drive is fine. oh.. i have two 60gig IBM drives
     
  9. thread starter Moderator emeritus

    eyelikeart

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2001
    Location:
    Metairie, LA
    #9
    thanks for the words of advice & encouragement...I feel much better knowing all of u had good luck with it... :D
     
  10. macrumors 68020

    sparkleytone

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2001
    Location:
    Greensboro, NC
    #10
    i know you are kind of worried but don't be. first of all, as has been said, hard drives are made to do this. second of all, even tho it is playing music 24/7, this doesn't really mean that its accessing the whole time. Playing an MP3 only accesses the hard drive for a few seconds. Everything else is basically buffer, and it accesses quickly every few seconds.
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Location:
    The West Loop
    #11
    -eyelikeart

    What wears out on a hard drive is the armiture bearings. The armiture being the arm that has the read/write heads at the end. What causes wear is the armiture clicking back and forth, this is why an optimized disk is good because the data most llikely to be read is consolidated and contiguous, thus requiring the least movement on behalf of the armiture.

    Additionally, the armiture will fail gradually, from the outside of the platters, inward. the reasoning behind this is that this area of the HD is the last to be occupied, and therefore most likely blank space. So when your drive starts to fail, you should notice a steady decrease in capacity as the outer edges of the platters are no longer accessible. This can manifest in some pretty strange ways, from getting a "Disk full" error when you've got plenty according to the capacity stated, or you might get files 'dissapearing' as the heads can no longer get over to them.
     

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