Your Questions About Hard Drives Answered

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.

questions about hard drives

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Hard Drives

What is the difference between SATA and IDE and Solid State Drives
The first thing you’ll notice is the interface. SATA and IDE are the interface types. 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. A solid state hard drive uses the SATA interface, and are more expensive than IDE drives with less capacity.

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 recover lost data quite easily. The important thing to remember is that data will be overwritten the more you use the PC. So if you accidentally erased something critical, be sure to stop and use a program like Recuva.

If you have any other questions about hard drives that were not covered above, let us know in the comments section below.

16 thoughts on “Your Questions About Hard Drives Answered”

  1. Hi. I just opened my 1 TB hdd hard drive, I don’t know why I did so. When it was open I took the metallic disk out. Under the disk it was a white “bag” with something that looked like soil inside and I really whonder what it is. Do you know?

    1. Hi. I am not sure what that was. If I were to guess, it’s probably something to absorb moisture. You might see similar things inside of pill bottles or in anti-static bags when buying electronic equipment.

  2. Haakon Tjønnås

    Hi! Long story short: I wanted a Seagate Hard Drive so I could transfer videos etc from my PlayStation to receive more space. I checked a Hard Drive and as far as I remember there was no data on it, and it was named as “Untitled”. However, now I can’t find my Hard Drive where I have all my saved photos and movies from back in the days. I am now afraid that I formatted that Hard Drive I had everything on, cause no other Hard Drives I have seem to have the data. My question is: Is it possible to retrieve data from a formatted Hard Drive after I imported data from my PlayStation? And does the Hard Drive change name to Untitled after being formatted? Cause if does change name, there is a huge chance that the Hard Drive I formatted to a PS4 format, is the one I had all the memories on.

    1. Yes, you can recover any data that hasn’t been overwritten. If the Playstation data overwrote the files, then they are likely gone. Stop using the drive to risk further data loss. You can then use a program like Recuva (they have a free version) to recover the remaining data. Good luck. Post on our forums if you have more questions.

  3. Naveengangaiah

    hi!. my name is naveen, lets say i have 2 hard drives in my desktop, 1 used boot OS another for data. my question is “The hard drive which is having data, if i connect it to other desktop(not the original OS which it was allocated disk) would it show as allocated memory or unallocated memory ?”

  4. Hey, If I use an SSD to boot up windows, can I delete everything off of my other 1TB hard drive and be fine? I had previously used that hard drive to boot up windows but I’ve switched to the SSD now. If not, could I put everything in that hard drive in 2 seperate folders, one with everything required to use it and another with everything I want to use it for?

    1. Hi. I would disconnect the 1TB drive and make sure the PC is running fine off of the SSD. I suspect it is if the SSD is designated as the C drive. Once you confirm the SSD drive is the boot drive, you can then delete everything from the 1TB drive and use it strictly for storage. If you format it, make sure you do not need anything on the drive (pictures, videos, downloads, etc) as these will be deleted. Good luck.

  5. I recently bought an HGST Ultrastar He8 and the packaging says Feb 2016. That’s almost 4 years ago! Should I retnru the drive or is it not such a bad thing?

    1. Should be fine as long as it was still in the original packaging and unopened. I’d be more concerned if it was an SSD, as there could have been technological updates since that time, such as SATA technology moving to the newer NVMe, which is faster.

  6. I have a 4 TB WD External Hard drive. When I plugged in to the USB (I have bitlocker) and put in my password to unlock, all of a sudden I can’t access the files (it keeps spinning). What is the issue? I never had problems before.

  7. I have a 4 TB WD External Hard drive. I am trying to access my pictures/videos. When I plugged in the USB into my computer (I have bit locker) and typed in my password, the drive (Local Disk D) will not come up all of a sudden. I have a circle on my computer and it keeps spinning (like it is trying to access, but it won’t come up) it has always worked in the past. Can you tell me what is wrong? I tried unplugging multiple times and re-plugging it in but the same thing keeps happening. I even tried it on another computer and still have the exact same problem. it keeps spinning… HELP I have every pic I own on this hard drive…

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