Questions About Hard Drives

You have questions about hard drives and we have answers. If you don’t see the answer here, be sure to join our free computer repair forums and ask. Hard drives can be internal or external and come in various sizes in terms of physical size and capacity. Hard drives are the best way to store data, but you need to remember to backup the data to a second drive or an online source, as hard drives do fail over time. Problems can come all at once or you may see a degradation in performance and data loss over a period of time. These frequently asked question about hard drives should help broaden your knowledge with your computer and the hard drive that makes all the magic happen.

What is the difference between SATA and IDE and Solid State Drives
The first thing you’ll notice is the interface. SATA drives have a single cable with a small connector, while an IDE drive will have a flat ribbon cable. SATA drives have a faster data transfer rate. Your motherboard must be able to support a SATA drive. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy an IDE drive. A Solid State Drive is a drive without moving parts. SSDs are more expensive than SATA and IDE drives with less capacity but tend to boot faster.

How often should I defrag my hard disk?
That really depends on what you do with the drive. If you add and delete a lot of data, you’ll want to defrag monthly. If you’re a casual user, every three to six months is probably fine. In the Disk Defragmenter utility click Analyze and Windows will tell you if you need to or not.

How can I diagnose problems with my hard drive?
A great place to start with hard drive diagnostics is right at the manufacturer’s website. All major brand drives will have utilities for their drives, such as Maxtor’s Maxblast or Western Digital’s Data Lifeguard. Or Check out the Acronis Hard Drive Monitor–it’s free.

Can I put my old laptop hard drive in my desktop computer?
Sure, all you need is an adapter. The adapter converts the connection to the laptop drive to interface with the IDE and power cables of your desktop PC. Buy a Laptop Hard Drive Adaptor to Desktop here.

What is the best way to partition my drive?
If you have a Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 disk you can install the Operating System and create partitions during the install. The installation will ask you how much of the drive you want to use for the Windows install, and you can specify a portion of the drive’s space and leave the rest to be formatted later within Windows. That extra space is another partition. Or you can try a free non-destructive partition utility to partition a drive with data already on it.

Can I recover data that has been erased by my hard drive?
Yes, there are programs out there that recove lost data quite esily. The important thing to remember is that data will be overwritten the more you use the PC. So if you accidently erased something critical, be sure to stop and use a program like Undelete Now to get the data back or find data recovery software in our downloads site.