The PC Jigsaw Puzzle: Three major reasons to maintain your hard disks
While SSDs have made slight inroads into our IT environments, they remain an expensive alternative to conventional hard disks. Not only are the initial purchase costs still high, but companies especially are daunted at the thought of swapping out their entire networks hard disks and replacing them with SSDs.
It all adds up to a lot of work and a lot of money. So companies are sticking with hard disks for now. And as was the case 15, 10 and 5 years ago, hard disks have to be maintained or they will slowly but surely grind to a halt. They are no different to engines and brakes on a car – they are moving parts that wear and they need to be maintained and lubricated if you want to avoid major problems down the line.
The slower and more cumbersome they become, so calls to IT increase from frustrated employees, more systems crash and the hardware wears slowly but surely out. All of this is avoidable if companies opt to spend a tiny amount of money and time on caring for their hard disks.
Defragmentation may not be hip right now and it may not be the favorite topic for discussion when you talk to your boss about your budget for the year. Then again, no one likes to talk about putting their car through its annual MOT test, and no one likes taking that call from the garage where the mechanic winces with pain while reading you a list of the “damage”. We still have to do it though, because the costs of ignoring it are much, much higher.
There are many good reasons for caring for machines of any kind. Below are just three of the major reasons for looking after your computing machines, be that at work or at home:
Speed and easy computing
Is there anything worse than a pc or workstation that takes ages to boot up? And when it finally does, you click on something – anything – and then sit around and wait with the egg timer while your pc makes creaking noises?
This is bad enough at home but even worse if you are at work and under pressure from deadlines and your boss. Welcome to Stress Central. These creaking and grinding experiences are due to struggling hard disks. They are those moving parts I mentioned above.
Windows splits up all your files into tiny pieces and saves them separately and randomly across your disks. So when you clicked on something just now, the read/write heads of the disk are forced to search your entire disks for all of these file pieces, put them back together again and then present the file to you like a completed jigsaw. Just how quick can you do a jigsaw?! If you make sure those pieces are always kept together, the read/write heads hear your click, go straight to one place and present you with the completed jigsaw in an instant. In tests we regularly see speed increases of up to 100% for badly affected machines.
Save your hardware from an early death
Because your hard disks and the read/write heads are moving, mechanical parts like brakes or the engine in a car, they are of course subject to wear and tear through time. Not taking care of your disks is the equivalent of just driving your car day after day, mile after mile without ever checking the oil, brakes, coolant level or tire profiles. At some point something will go bang. That bang in your PC will generally be your disk. If it crashes or burns out then not only do you have the costs and hassle of replacing the disk itself, you might also lose all or a lot of the stuff that was saved on it.
I’m thinking here of important documents, precious photos, music – and that’s just at home. At work that picture gets worse and will likely include crucial files, customer data (very dangerous) and confidential financial data. By investing a comparatively tiny amount in maintaining your disks, you can extend their lifespan by up to 40%, and save them from an early, untimely death which has often disastrous consequences. This leads me nicely to the third reason:
Ensure your backup and recovery plan actually works
All of us at home and at work have some kind of backup and recovery plan going on. Some are more organized and technical than others but I bet we all make copies of our important stuff in some way or another just in case something (see the above possibilities!) goes wrong.
The success or otherwise of your backups and any recovery efforts you might have to make depend largely on the condition of the files and data that you are copying and trying to recover. By continuously making sure that your files and data are stored together on your pc or server, instead of being split into thousands of pieces, any backup you make of your files or disks will be much faster. Again, this comes down to the read heads. This time they do not have to go putting a file jigsaw together again before your backup is made.
And should something go wrong and you find yourself having to try to recover lost data or files, the chances of a successful recovery are much higher with a well-maintained hard disk. Why? It is much easier for data recovery programs to reconstruct files that are saved together as opposed to reconstructing files that have been scattered into pieces across the disk.
If those three reasons are not compelling enough for you then you can read about the full benefits of a well-maintained computer on our website. You can also give our pc and server maintenance program O&O Defrag 16 a spin with a free trial for 30 days. If you can imagine your pc being similar to your car then you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money and pain further down the road.