Protect Your External Portable Hard Drive

External hard drives: most of us have one, many of us have more than one. A quick count up in my head and I’ve got 2. One that is connected to my iMac and is used as a Time Machine, the other is often kept in my work bag and has a mix of files from various machines I use when I’m in the office.

The external hard drive I use for Time Machine is a Western Digital My Book is kept well out of the way – it sits on the floor behind the leg of a table and is quite well protected, it would take someone with 6 foot legs that can bend in odd ways to reach it, the other external hard drive is more portable and it’s that one that I should do a better job of looking after.

Most of the external USB hard drives we see at Data Clinic are the portable types – Western Digital Elements, My Book and My Passport drives, Toshiba Canvio and STOR.E’s, Seagate Expansion and Backup Plus disks being the most popular. These all have something in common – they are the hard drives that rather than being kept out of the way in a safe place, are often taken to and from work or college on a regular basis. If you spend an extra £5 when you buy one you’ll usually get a snug fitting padded case that offers a decent degree of protection against knocks and bangs that any portable hard drive is bound to get in day to day usage. Fortunately my hard drive came with a case which has saved me on numerous occasions.

While a portable hard drive case is great at saving your data from knocks and bangs, it will do little to protect the hard drive from damage should you happen to drop it. Dropping a hard drive just a few feet onto a floor will often cause significant damage and break it. The next time you power it up you’ll hear a repetitive ticking noise and the drive won’t be recognised. This is because the impact of the fall has damaged some of the mechanical components inside the hard drive. Here’s a YouTube video of a hard drive that’s been dropped – we’ve put the drive in our clean room and opened it so you can see what’s going on.

Data recovery companies refer to hard drives damaged in this way as having mechanical faults, and to get the data back from a drive with this type of fault requires the hard drive to be opened and worked on in a clean room. This is because a hard drive is a sealed device that operates in a clean air environment – one without dust and other contaminants drifting about, opening a hard drive in a standard room will destroy the clean environment and contaminate the inside of the hard drive.

What sort of problems can external portable hard drives get?
See this link