Hard drive paranoia: is it necessary?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Let's Sekuhara!, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Let's Sekuhara! macrumors 6502

    Let's Sekuhara!

    Jun 30, 2008
    As somebody who has used computers for a long time, I have had about 4 hard drives die on me during my life. Some were external, some were internal. I've developed a paranoia about it. I always imagine my computer getting bumped the wrong way while writing data, writing it to the wrong sector of the drive or having a head crash, and then everything going to hell.

    I look forward to getting a machine with a solid-state drive once the prices come down more, but in the meantime I was wondering: is this a realistic phobia to have?

    I don't understand the physics of a hard drive, so maybe it's a stupid thing to ask, but I would like some education on this issue. So:
    How is it that drive head being "one two-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair" can move back and forth (how many times per second?) across a platter spinning at 5400rpm and read/write every 1 and 0 with complete accuracy, often many years at a time without breaking down?!
  2. Hipnomac macrumors regular


    Jun 14, 2007
    If you want ultimate protection set up a RAID.

    watch this helpful video:


  3. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    you yourself said you have experienced hard drive failure so yes, the paranoia is indeed real lol

    i just had my hd die on me in less than a year of having it
  4. madog macrumors 65816


    Nov 25, 2004
    Korova Milkbar
  5. Let's Sekuhara! thread starter macrumors 6502

    Let's Sekuhara!

    Jun 30, 2008
    Yeah, I suppose I was hoping somebody would say that drives have sensors now that greatly reduce impact-induced HDD deaths...or something like that. I think my Mac's drive has that feature.

    Anyway, in the meantime my Time Capsule is covering my data and AppleCare is covering my hardware, so I should probably stop worrying.

    My girlfriend is so clumsy, she is always bumping into the table my MacBook is on. I flip out on her like "you're gonna mess up my drive!" and she's like "you're paranoid". But it sounds like my paranoia is justified. ;)
  6. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Hampshire
    First off I would have to say to the OP as others have that YES (a thousand times YES) there is reason to harbor that paranoia!

    What I would personally tend to disagree with is the thought that a RAID (no matter what type) is the ultimate protection. Even if using a mirrored array (won't even consider a striped array in the same sentence with protection! ;)) is only as good as the data written to it. Anything written to a mirrored RAID happens instantly to both drives, so if a program has an internal bug that causes it to write to the wrong area of a disk that might corrupt it (granted it was more prevalent with OS9 and prior) suddenly both drives are corrupt! Not to mention user error in which you trash a file in error and boom both copies are gone.:(

    So while RAIDs have their place (some instances where striped sets are needed to increase write speed for example- and are backed up religiously to separate external drives) I would sure never count on them to counter hard drive failure paranoia myself! After having some far less than stellar experiences with Apple's software RAID implementation it would actually increase my paranoia! ;) Give me a Carbon Copy Cloner copy to an external drive any day!
  7. plinden macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2004
    Time Capsule isn't a backup strategy. It's useful and better than nothing, but if your house burns down or is burgled while you're out of town, you lose everything. You need offsite storage.

    I have all my data in two places here at home, but also upload anything important (photos, videos of the kids, personal documents) to Amazon S3 using JungleDisk. Anything else (including my 250GB iTunes library) can be recreated with a bit (or a lot) of effort.

    I was blase about backup, since in 20 years of using computers I never had a disk failure. I've had three in the past three years. Luckily, with the first failure, I had multiple computers with data on each of them, so by accident I had duplicates of almost everything. I started backups and offsite uploads after that first failure.
  8. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    You are always wise to have more than one backup. I have one FW external disk for Time Machine, and another FW external disk where I do additional backups of disk images and copies of my home directory, plus a USB key to back up documents/finances, plus a regular DVD or home directory.

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