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  1. #1


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    Does formating the hard disk decrease its life span?
    Does formating the hard disk decrease its life span? Are there any solid research paper or statement that shows it?

  2. #2

    D3v1L80Y's Avatar
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    If you want to use a hard disk with any modern OS then you have to format it first... so I don't see the downside of it.
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  3. #3

    MaDDoG's Avatar
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    It would have said just using it shortens its life span. I've even seen em dead straight out of the box unused........but no not anything that you could measure.
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  4. #4

    jdgti's Avatar
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    I can't find a paper, but I am pretty sure it is healthy to format your hard drive every once in a while.

  5. #5

    knightlie's Avatar
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    If you assume the drive can write an arbitrary fixed amount before it fails - in the same way you might measure the life of your liver - then yes, but formatting is no different to writing any other data to it and doesn't affect the life of the drive any differently.
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  6. #6

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    Am personally still using a 40GB WD drive that is now at least 8 yrs old as one of the backups on my XP machine.

    That drive has seen a change in Operating System, partition format, change in partition sizes, etc., a minimum of 75-100 times I would guess.
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  7. #7


    Member Since
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    Funny things, hard drives. The MTBF (mean time between failures) can be 500,000 hours. Seagate makes a model which brags 1.2 million hours which is longer than any of us will be alive. And yet I have seen them dead out of the box.
    There are different types of reformatting also. The simplest one, erasing the directory, is pretty harmless. But doing a full 35 pass security erase is quite the aerobic workout. If a drive is going to fail, it might not make it through that. Similarly, many drives have failed because system installs are also quite demanding.

  8. #8


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by knightlie View Post
    - in the same way you might measure the life of your liver -
    That's the last time I'll reformat my liver, and at eggnog-and-rum time, too, worse luck!

    I think it's making crackling noises. How do I back it up before it fails?

  9. #9

    PerryLynch's Avatar
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    I doubt that any of us will be able to reformat a hard drive enough times to make it fail from that alone. That being said, all of us are going to buy an unlucky drive with a short life span at least once each decade.

    If your hard drive is making noises, or if you haven't done a backup in a while, the simple thing to do is simply copy your documents, photos, and other important data to DVD or an external hard drive.

    Typically, I don't waste my time making backups of applications, as they can be reinstalled using your existing original media. I only want the data - the stuff that I created and have no other copies of. Be sure to include your email directories and photo libraries as well.

    Also remember, making backup copies is great, but failing to make sure they work properly can cost you. Once in a while, take your archive media and try to access the files contained within it. Make sure that you can access and open your documents. Otherwise, you're still waiting on a disaster.

    Good luck,
    Perry
    Perry M Lynch, CISSP CISA
    Mac Newbie, Security not-so-newbie

  10. #10

    knightlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PerryLynch View Post
    Also remember, making backup copies is great, but failing to make sure they work properly can cost you. Once in a while, take your archive media and try to access the files contained within it. Make sure that you can access and open your documents. Otherwise, you're still waiting on a disaster.
    Word. In particular, don't rely on CD-Rs and CD-RWs for backups. CD-RWs are the worst of the two and can become unusable in less than two years.
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