Today is June 16, 2019. In the past 2 weeks I have seen a rash (4) of hard drive failures. Two of the failures were not obvious. All of the failures were on older (at least 6 year old) computers. The failures were on desktops and laptops. Hard drives are electro mechanical devices. When they fail, it will probably be at an inconvenient time.
Today is July 6, 2019. The clock has continued to tick and several more “Needs a new hard drive ” computers arrived in the Help Center. The computeres were older desktops and laptops. Fortunately, the storage requirements for each of the computers was satisfied with a 250 GB SSD. Curiosity and Google led me to this: Who makes the most reliable hard drive. Note that this item does not address SSD (Solid State Drive). If you need BIG and reliable storage, the article might be for you.
Backups. At a minimum, backup your data. For many users, the free version of Google Drive offers enough space for your data. 15 gigabytes is FREE. Google also stores pictures for FREE. The picture storage does NOT count as data, unless the pictures are high resolution.
Look at the S.M.A.R.T information on your hard drive. Or get someone in the Help Center to show you how to look at S.M.A.R.T..
Upgrade to SSD (Solid State Drive). Upgrading to SSD on a computer can deliver dramatic performance benefits. Windows and many applications (antivirus programs particularly) are disk abusers. 99% of the time, when I analyse performance on a Windows computer, the first obvious indicator of system slowness is: The disk drive is 100% busy. The disk drive is often the “neck of the funnel”, when it comes to getting things done with your computer.
If you read the item mentioned in the next sentence, please note the comments at the end of the article. Here is a link to an article that discusses SSD vs HD. The article was published in January 2019 and SSD prices have continued to drop. The article does not appear to address the use case of: Old computer with old hard drive. If you google “SSD vs HD” you will discover more items. A search of “SSD reliability” produced this item: SSD Reliability.
The price of SSD has dropped significantly the past year. Upgrading to SSD can be an effective solution for improved performance and extending the life of older computers. We frequently see computers with small amounts of the hard drive being used. Why is this important? Because, that probably means you can upgrade to an SSD that has less capacity than the hard drive in your computer. Today, you can buy a 250 gigabyte SSD for less than $50.00. The upgrade/replacement process will probably be less painful than waiting for the HD to fail. In addition, the amount of time you spend “waiting for reboots, updates and program loads” will be noticeably smaller. I have seen, 7 year old computers, using second generation Intel Core I5 processors. “come to life” with an SSD upgrade. If you are commited to a new computer, make sure it has SSD, but do not over pay, for the SSD option.
If your hard drive fails, the process of “rebuilding/reconstructing” a new hard drive, from what ever you can harvest from the old hard drive, can be a tedious, time consuming, process. Besides needing backups of the data on your old hard drive, it will be important to have the media and product keys of the applications that exist on your old hard drive.
The people that have good backup practices, probably do not show up in the Help Center. If you have good backups, I am guessing you are proabably not intimidated by replaceing a hard drive.
If your hard drive is still working, upgrading to an SSD is a simpler process. There are software tools that facilitate “cloning” the content of your HD to an SSD. Once the drive is cloned, you can boot from the SSD. A tool I have used for cloning is: Minitool Partition Wizard. With a desktop computer there is usually room in the computer for the SSD and HD, so there is the possibility you can retain the HD for additional storage. Is backing up to an old HD a good idea. This day and age, my preferance would be some sort of cloud storage for backups of data that is not important to my financial well being.
Upgrading to SSD might encourage you to rethink about the cost of a new computer. WIth SSD, reboots, program loads and updates are dramatically faster than traditional HD. The title of this page implies older computers will benefit. However, even newer computers can show significant performance gains with an SSD, if they are presently equipped with a HD. One observation worth noting about reduced boot time with SSD vs HD is: If your computer is configured to Hibernate instead of SHUTDOWN , your first impression of SSD boot times being shorter than HD may not be the case.