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Laptop HD life: can a trip (vibrations) damage the HD?

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#1
I41Mar

I41Mar

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Hello dear MSFN forum.
I have the following question:
since I'll have to make a long trip by a train (6 boring hours) I would like to spend time using my laptop while traveling.
But I have a big doubt:
the vibrations, oscillations and bumps that occur during the trip can break or shorten the PC HD life when it is turned on or even when turned off?
The PC in question has a PATA HDD and is built in the 2006 year.
I'm not a PC expert.
Best regards to all MSFN friends and thank you for your kind answers.
I41Mar

PS: to moderators: I do not know if this is the right forum section for this topic.

Edited by I41Mar, 27 May 2012 - 04:06 PM.



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#2
jaclaz

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Hello dear MSFN forum.
I have the following question:
since I'll have to make a long trip by a train (6 boring hours) I would like to spend time using my laptop while traveling.
But I have a big doubt:
the vibrations, oscillations and bumps that occur during the trip can break or shorten the PC HD life when it is turned on or even when turned off?
The PC in question has a PATA HDD and is built in the 2006 year.

If the drive/laptop is off, you should have NO fear whatsoever (most if not all 2.5" disks use a "parking ramp" or however a "safe parking zone" when off).
With the laptop on, there may be moderate reasons to worry, nothing will happen on a "normal" railway, maybe if the line is particularly "bumpy", though many laptops, besides using disks that can stand that kind of stress, have particular "mounting hardware" that insulates the disk from vibrations, and a few models additionally have sensors that simply "cut off power" if a definite G variation (such as a fall) happen.

Maybe if you post exact make/model of your laptop (and possibly also make/model of the disk inside it) we may give you some more - if not certainties - accurate estimations of the possible risk.

A good idea (indipendently from the planned trip) is to make a full backup (or image of the disk, even better), a hard disk 6 years old may well fail independently from the vibrations and bumps (mind you it is perfectly possible that that hard disk will survive for another 10 years, but the only thing that I have learned - in some cases the "hard way" - is that *any* hard disk can fail at *any* time for *any* reason).

The three golden rules:
  • backup
  • backup again
  • while considering the consequences of first two rules, BACKUP AGAIN!

jaclaz

#3
pointertovoid

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Jesus saves!
And God makes backups.

Hard disk drives tend to survive slow vibrations well. After all, their arm works all the time with huge accelerations: just consider what an access time of 12ms means.
They're harmed by hard shocks.

#4
jaclaz

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Hard disk drives tend to survive slow vibrations well. After all, their arm works all the time with huge accelerations: just consider what an access time of 12ms means.
They're harmed by hard shocks.

Yep :), point being EXACTLY HOW MUCH hard? :unsure: ;)

http://www.msfn.org/...internet-noise/

jaclaz

#5
John305

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Hi well I have seen laptop drives destroyed in 4 months. The ones that do park the heads if you just nudge the table it will park the heads so thats not much of a bump at all. I feel alot of the damage done to laptop hard drives is people walk around with them running doing a task. Its like oh look at this jump up run accross the room to show your Mum or what ever lol. On a train well I have not been on a train in years but 20 years ago I would not use one. But they are alot smoother now and you should have no problems just dont run to the washroom with it running.

#6
I41Mar

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Sorry about the long delay for an useful update (my laziness!).
I want to share some observations after almost three years of further PC use, a PC laptop built in the 2006 year with OS WinXP SP2.

 

The short story is this:
 

3 years ago I had to stay for work far from home for a few days and I thought I wanted to carry my PC to be used during the free time; but I had fear of damaging it during a long train journey (6 hours) when using it on the train trip (vibrations, oscillations and bumps).

 

My great fear of making some PC damage has prevailed, and as precautionary measure in the end I had not used it during the outward journey and during the return journey done after a few days; during the days that I have spent far from home I used my PC only when I had some free time, positioned stably on a table in the hotel room in the evenings.

During those days, a few times I noticed a 'clicking' noise emitted by the PC (never happened before!).
When after a few days I returned home I reviewed the S.M.A.R.T. HD data and I noticed that the 'Reallocation Event Count' parameter has increased from 1 to 2.
After further days of PC use at home the 'clicking' noise has happened more repeatedly and the HD S.M.A.R.T. data showed the increase of 'Reallocation Event Count' parameter from 2 to 3.
Meanwhile the 'Current Pending Sector Count' and the 'Offline Uncorrectable Sector Count' HD S.M.A.R.T. parameters have been always zero.

 

I thought then that the HD (60 GB PATA Hitachi Travelstar 5K100 HD, according to Everest report) was about to fail and I quickly bought a new 80 GB PATA HD as a replacement part (but not replaced yet!).

After the last 'Reallocation Event Count' increase to 3, the 'clicking' noise disappeared and I continued to use my PC until now (after about 3 years!), to my great surprise without any problem!

 

For clarity my precautionary measures at home are these: the PC is put in a cabinet drawer at home; before turning on the PC I put it stably on a table and then I turn it on, and when it is off I wait for 10-20 seconds before taking it and put it back in the cabinet drawer.
 
I have a believing that HD actually was only partially damaged during the trip (by vibrations, oscillations and bumps), even though the PC was turned off.

 

Best regards to all MSFN friends and thank you for your kind answers.
I41Mar



#7
jaclaz

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I have a believing that HD actually was only partially damaged during the trip (by vibrations, oscillations and bumps), even though the PC was turned off.

Well, yes :yes: and no. :no:

 

Most probably the laptop Hard Disk was partially damaged during the trip, but it was definitely NOT due to "vibrations, oscillations and bumps", that kind of behaviour (increasing 'Reallocation Event Count') happening a few times but that eventually did not further develop is more probably to be connected with electromagnetic high-frequency induction.

 

Damage from bumps, vibrations and similar is usually permanent, whilst damage from exposition to electromagnetic fields is most of the times temporary, and this would nicely explain while you initially had such a dramatic failure that did not however increase in amount or spread to other areas of the hard disk or happen again in the following few years. 

 

You did not specify it in your original post, but chances are that you traveled with an electrically powered train along an electrified railway, these are known to emit high power (and relatively high frequency) electromagnetic radiations.

 

With old laptops usually putting them in Velostat bags (the antistatic plastic in which electronics or motherboards are usually shipped) or wrapping them in a couple sheets of more commonly available tinfoil has been traditionally considered to create a Faraday cage good enough to prevent this kind of transient inductions.

 

Even if your train was coal or diesel powered, it is entirely possible that you traveled near a high energy high frequency source, like (say) a big radio or TV antenna, old laptops and some non-recently manufactured or refurbished train carriages are simply not shielded enough to bear this kind of emissions.

 

The good news are that since the GEERT (Global Electric Emission Reduction Treaty) has been signed by most western countries in October 2012 there has been a sensible reduction of these emissions along railways, while most carriages has been modified accordingly and in the meantime all laptop manufacturers became compliant with Revision 3.14 of the FCC/EMC Rules to the effect that all laptops built since around third quarter of 2011 have a much increased shielding, with an attenuation factor that on average grew from the previous  -12  to -33 (expressed in Garn*Centipawn/square foot, and it is a logarithmic scale!).

 

So, when you will buy a new laptop, it will certainly be able to survive unscathed such an ordeal as a 6 hour long train trip. :)

 

jaclaz


Edited by jaclaz, 30 March 2015 - 09:03 AM.





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