Windows 7 Forums

Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.


Windows 7: How often should I change my external drive

09 Mar 2015   #1
Computer0304

Windows 7 Professional 32-bit/Windows 8 64-bit/Win7 Pro64-bit
 
 
How often should I change my external drive

I currently have a WD Passport I bought back in Summer 2013. It is still working as well as it always has. How often should I change my external drive? I know that a lot of people say their drives last about 2 years but are these people all just having bad experiences? My old external drive is 5+ years old and it still worked last time I checked except that videos play slow off of it.
Also, I use my drive only when I need to backup my photos from my camera and computer which is about every 3 months. Should I check on the drive just in case more often?
One last thing, do external drives use SMART alerts like internal drives do? Or will I have to time switching my external drive before the failure happens if there are no alerts? (I do have backups though)


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
09 Mar 2015   #2
CKWD

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Hey!

Hard drives are very delicate hardware, like any other. Truthfully, it could be hard to determine how long one external drive should last, a few years most probably.

But technology advances more with every day, and the HDDs life depends not only on its manufacturing quality, but also on its shipment, packaging, where it was bought from, how it was stored and kept, how it's used, maintained and taken care of, if its been hit, dropped, or with a virus at some point, if it has endured a power surge or corrupted file transfer, etc. Additionally, the cable also plays a role. Many of the drives issues are due to faulty or damaged cables. Any drive that's beginning to fail would show signs of deteriorating performance.

Another thing, having one copy of your files is not a back up, nor a safe keeping. You should have at least two copies of your information and then you can be more relaxed about it.

Do regular check ups on your WD My Passport, defragment it regularly, use an antivirus, safely remove the hardware after use. Using the drive more often or more rarely shouldn't make a noticeable difference unless something done wrong, like unplugging unsafely or something else.

If it is really working nicely after these two years, that's good, and I am happy to hear it.

CK_WD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2015   #3
RolandJS

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

recommend having two external HDs for backups
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

09 Mar 2015   #4
Computer0304

Windows 7 Professional 32-bit/Windows 8 64-bit/Win7 Pro64-bit
 
 

Well, for now, I have two copies of the photos. One copy on the computer and the other on the drive. I only use the drive at home and I have never dropped it. I am most likely going to buy a new drive this year. Should I use the WD software to check it as I'm not sure other software work? Are Seagate drives reliable? I am most likely going to have to buy a Samsung drive which is basically a Seagate drive rebranded for Samsung. Sorry CKWD, but I don't know where to get WD drives here. I would get a WD drive but they are hard to find here.
Also, how often should I check on the drive?
And, can you answer my question on SMART alerts for external drives? Do they work like it does for internal drives?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2015   #5
LMiller7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

As long as the drive has no problems I would continue to use it. Using only new drives does not avoid the necessity of maintaining backups. How long a drive will last varies WIDELY. I have a 6 GB Fujitsu drive that is now 17 years old and has no issues.

Most external drives themselves do support SMART but the problem is obtaining this information over the USB interface. Many USB enclosures do not support this. At the present time there are no firm standards that govern this.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2015   #6
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Computer0304 View Post
It is still working as well as it always has. How often should I change my external drive? I know that a lot of people say their drives last about 2 years but are these people all just having bad experiences?

Also, I use my drive only when I need to backup my photos from my camera and computer which is about every 3 months. Should I check on the drive just in case more often?

One last thing, do external drives use SMART alerts like internal drives do? Or will I have to time switching my external drive before the failure happens if there are no alerts? (I do have backups though)
If it's working as well as it always has and has enough capacity and speed, you'd be foolish to give up on it. Any new replacement might be prone to problems not found on the existing drive. What's the payoff for taking that chance?

No need to check on it "just in case" if you use it only periodically. Check on it when you use it. I just had a WD drive die on me with no warning whatsoever--it had been in a closet for several months after working perfectly. There's little you can predict and SMART values don't tell the whole story---not to mention they are very cryptic. By design apparently.

Stick with it, back up, hope, and be prepared to buy another one tomorrow if you have a failure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2015   #7
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by RolandJS View Post
recommend having two external HDs for backups
There are only two kinds of HDDs; those that have already failed and those that are going to fail and just haven't yet. While checking SMART attributes and running other tests may diagnose when a drive is ready to fail, it's just as likely the drive will fail without any warning whatever. The only way to protect you data from loss is to have multiple backups. While only one backup is infinitely better than no backups, even a backup drive can fail. Since there is no way to predict when a drive will die, the only defense from a backup drive failing is to basically backup the backup drive. Also, the better quality a drive is, the less likely it will die prematurely but even that is no guarantee.

I don't check the SMART attributes on my HDDs very often; maybe twice a year, if that. I have my drives backed up to the teeth so I just don't worry about it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2015   #8
ComputerGeek

Desk 1: Win 7 Pro x32; Desk 2: Windows 10 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by RolandJS View Post
recommend having two external HDs for backups


Double ditto Keeping two sets of backups is the most important rule.

Google wrote an interesting research paper in 2007 Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population - i think just as relevant today. Some highlights:
  • 36% percent of drives fail without any warning
  • Some SMART parameters (scan errors, reallocation counts, offline reallocation counts, and probational counts) have a large impact on failure probability
I interpret that last point as meaning: consider replacing a drive once it has SMART errors - even if it hasn't hit the failure threshold. Once SMART errors are reported, the probability of drive failure greatly increases

p.s. I've also had some external drives last for 5+ years. I think it's also a function of how "portable" it is (i.e. is it an external drive that sits on your desk all the time? Or a portable drive you carry around? etc)

p.p.s I've been buying Buffalo drives for years for myself, family, friends, etc. They've had an excellent track record - and are usually priced a bit lower then the bigger brands
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Mar 2015   #9
Computer0304

Windows 7 Professional 32-bit/Windows 8 64-bit/Win7 Pro64-bit
 
 

Well, I want to get another drive anyway so I have 3 copies in case my computer gets infected with malware that spreads and it spreads to one of the drives. Are Seagates good too? There isn't really a lot of support for WD drives here so I most likely will have to get a Samsung drive which are rebranded Seagate drives.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Mar 2015   #10
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

https://www.backblaze.com/blog/best-hard-drive/

See the above link and make of it what you will. It's a report on over 40,000 drives in a data center.

It speaks well of Hitachi, poorly of Seagate, with WD in the middle. I think that's for large capacity internal drives used in a certain way that may not match your usage pattern.

I'd just buy on the basis of price, RMA privileges, and support. Hope you catch a sale. Hope you are not unlucky. Hope you never have to deal with RMA or support.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
Reply

 How often should I change my external drive




Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search




Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
External Hard Drive (F) Drive Letter changed to G - Can't change back
My External Hard Drive (My Book) was always Drive letter F. I went to sleep and woke up to find Windows 7 Pro had updated and rebooted and I was welcomed by my login screen. Consequently now my My Book external HDD now reads as Drive letter G. I went into Administrative Tools > Computer...
Hardware & Devices
How do I change the location of my external hard drive from H: to I:
Somehow, I changed the location of my external hard drive from the I: drive to the H: drive. When I click on my external hard drive under the H: drive, all it shows is the H: hard drive shortcut. When I click on the shortcut, it says that the H: drive cannot be located. I tried to find it under...
General Discussion
External Hard Drive - Drive Letter changed - unable to change back
I have a USB external hard drive that I keep all my documents etc on (had it for years) I upgraded from Vista Home to & Home Premium then had to upgrade recently to Professional to run my Sage. Through all these upgrades my ext. drive ran fine. Occasionally the drvie letter would change if I...
Hardware & Devices
How to change the Icon for my external hard drive
Windows 7 Home Premium Under Windows Explorer 'Computer' all of the my drives and storage devices are listed. I am trying to change the icon associated with my esata external hard drive. Anyone know how to do this?
Hardware & Devices
Change back up files from D Partitioned Drive to External Hard Drive?
Hello. Recently bought a new Laptop, and went through all the setting up process, one of which was Windows 7 back up. At the time I just went for the partitioned drive option, but after a week, I've decided to buy an external Hard drive for my back ups instead. My questions are: 1. Can I easily...
Performance & Maintenance
Why can't I change my External HD to Drive Letter K?
Alright so i wanted to set my External Hard Drive letter to K because my iTunes XML library file recognizes all my music being on path K:\ and so on. Can anyone figure out what's up? Please. I have an idea it might because of my 5-in-1 card reader but in my XP OS it showed them by default...
Hardware & Devices


Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:44.

Twitter Facebook Google+



Windows 7 Forums

Seven Forums Android App Seven Forums IOS App