hard drives

What should I do about my data if I'm selling my computer?

HDD

Episode 1376

Jeff from Valley Village, CA

Jeff wants to do some spring cleaning by getting rid of some old computers, but is concerned about privacy and the data on the hard drives. Leo says that the easiest thing to do is to simply remove the hard drives. He could also use something like Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) to completely wipe the drive. It erases everything by writing zeros across the drive, and then erases it again. If he does that several times, he'll be safe from everyone save the NSA. Solid State Drives, however, can be easier to get data off of.

Will my new computer use my old hard drives?

Synology DS216J NAS DiskStation on Amazon

Episode 1371

Dave from West Michigan

Dave wants to know if his old RAID hard drives can be read by his computer. Leo says it depends. If mirrored, maybe. They're identical. But maybe not. He shouldn't make any assumptions. Dave should copy the data off it and then he can take each of them and put them in their own enclosed drives, or use a new array like Synology. Synology also does a disk check periodically to keep it healthy. When he puts them in, they'll check the hard drives as they are building the raid.

When should I replace my hard drive?

Episode 1368

Dave from Merced, CA

Dave has a laptop with two hard drives with various ages. When is it a good time to replace the old drive? Leo says that hard drives fail over time. Google says that they will fail a lot at first, and then then to zero the first few years, and then about 8% a year after that. So if you're drive has been running that long, it may be one of the well put together ones. Hard drives are cheap so just keep your data backed up. Use it until it fails and when it does, your data's already backed up and ready for the new hard drive. Spinning drives also tend to fail gradually.

Why does it take so long to boot up my computer?

Hard drive

Episode 1367

Tom from Valdosta, GA

Tom says it takes over a day for his computer to boot up. Leo says it sounds like the startup process in the hard drive is damaged. If he can take the hard drive out and put it into a new computer, like Tom did, then perhaps it's a cable or power supply issue. Tom should try booting from the USB key and see if it takes the same amount of time. If that works, then clearly there's a driver or software issue causing it to boot up slowly.

Why is my computer so slow?

SSD

Episode 1365

Roger from Pasadena, CA

Roger is having issues with his SSD. It's slowing down and takes a long time to access his data. Leo says the drive is only a year old and the computer a few years old, but there can be a drive failure, even in new SSDs. It's time to replace it. He could try running an OS from a USB key and see what happens. If he doesn't have a similar issue, that clearly shows the hard drive has a problem.

How can I access my hard drive?

Hard Drive

Episode 1364

Terri from Temecula, CA

Terri's computer is crashing multiple times and trying to reboot. Leo says it could be a myriad of issues including a flakey hard drive. That's the most likely culprit. It could also be a bad memory chip that is corrupted and causing it to load and stall. Maybe the stick has worked its way lose.

The problem is, if she brings it in, it'll get wiped and sometimes they can make it worse. She can try and run a recovery with Windows. She can also download Windows 10, put it on a USB key, and then select "Repair" when she runs the recovery. Then backup her data immediately.

Can I install an old hard drive into a new computer?

Laptop Hard Drive Exposed

Episode 1360

Scott from Santa Monica Fwy, CA

Scott wants to know if he can take the hard drive out of an old computer and then put it into a new one. Leo says yes, but he should only use it as a data drive. He could probably put it in an external USB enclosure so he can plug it in when he needs to. He could install it as a secondary hard drive as well. If he wants to use software from that hard drive, that's a lot more problematic due to registry issues. He may be able to dual boot from the older driver, but the device drivers won't work. So he'll have to work around that and use a boot manager.