Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who has your back?

Within my buyer beware group, I was the student with the least amount of experience with hard drives. The only info I personally knew about hard drives was that we needed one for CreComm. We were told to get one for CreComm because teachers do not accept any excuses for lost work. If your computer blows up you are expected to have another copy of your work somewhere else. This somewhere else destination should be a HARD DRIVE. I had been told the perks about hard drives from electronic store specialists but I still found myself reluctant to buy one . Then as we sat down in our buyer beware group the discussion of hard drives began.

Alyssa the most avid hard drive user of the group uses a hard drive continuously to back up television shows (that she downloads), photos from her camera and of course school work. Out of the group she had the most experience with hard drives and in return she had the most experience with hard drive failure. The general consensus within our group was that hard drives are suppose to be our back up plan, but perhaps these machines aren’t as reliable as we were being led to believe. People’s whole lives can be stored away on their hard drive so with whispers of higher than expected failure rates on these machines we began our investigation.

Our research was divided between primary and secondary research. Our primary researched consisted of purchasing a hard drive, interviewing employees at various electronic stores as well as  an IT from Red River College. As well we emailed hard drive manufacturers inquiring information from the companies who actually make the hard drives. The secondary research we complied was through reading online articles and forums about other peoples’ experience with hard drives. The bases we wanted to cover for ourselves and for our public were the following;

1.  best brands
2.  failure rates
3. how to shop smart
4. proper care
5. warning signs
6. how to deal if it crashes

To the fellow CreComm students who read my blog I hope these results help you in purchasing the best hard drive suitable for yourself . And the helpful tips should make your hard drive last as long as the warranty.

Best Brands
LaCie (suggested by Laptop Magazine John Pura, The Source) ,
Western Digital (highest rating on CNET, suggested by Future Shop, Best Buy)
SeaGate (also earned high ratings from CNET, suggested by Future Shop)

Failure Rates
-general life span 3 to 5 years
- Western Digital claim a failure rate of  8 drives per 1000
Shopping Smart
-make sure your chosen hard drive is compatible with your Mac or PC
-decide how you will be using your hard drive; portable or stationery
-speed (firewire enabled hard drives are ten times faster)
-warranty (safest option is to buy the brand with the longest warranty)

Proper Care
-be aware of the sensitivity of external hard drives, they’re easily susceptible to physical damage
- do not let your hard drive over heat; purchase one with a fan or turn it off regularly
-external hard drives should be turned off when not in use
-utilize tune up programs to warn you of any dangers
-properly eject your hard drive from your computer

Warning Signs
-slow at accessing files and saving and opening
-louder noises coming from your hard drive
-the blue screen of death
-silence;  no hard drive sounds at all

How to Deal with Failure
-talk to professionals
-don’t trust online forums
-geek squad at Best Buy provides a service of retrieving your lost files which costs upwards of $230 (with no guarantee)

-you pay for quality; buy the best brands even if they are more expensive
-do not expect your hard drive to last longer than its warranty
-a longer warranty is the way to go
-decide whether your hard drive will be portable or stationery and Mac or PC (or both)
-if you want to get the most out of your hard drive treat it properly

Lastly, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. These machines are not golden, back up your files in more then one place.