Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Hard disks, floppy disks, usb disks, encrypted disks, solid state disks, flash drives and more.
Occasionally, when moving a drive to another machine, it'll show up as unformatted. I'll look at some possible causes and actions to take.
Drives are getting bigger, but are they more reliable? That's a hard question.
Wiping free space on your hard drive with CCleaner will clean your drive with a few wipes; you may need to first clean up temporary files, caches, and deleted files.
It is possible, but the result has a hidden danger to consider. In this case, it's best to go with the supported option.
Don't defrag your SSDs or your USB thumb drives. Reformat them appropriately if you need to.
It's tempting to think that simply copying a bootable install CD to a USB device would work. Sadly, it's not that simple.
External hard drives are great ways to provide additional storage space. I'll review one approach as well as clarify why it still needs to be backed up.
You can move a hard drive from one computer to another... but it may take a re-install of Windows for the software to work with the new hardware.
You certainly can run two hard disks with different operating systems on one computer, but I actually recommend setting up a virtual machine instead.
Updates are important for the security of your computer, but removing those files may open you up to malware.
Failing flash drives can be compensated for with regular backups. But you can avoid the issue entirely if it's inexpensive and easy to replace.
Magnets damaging hard drives is not something you and I need to worry about on a day-to-day basis, as long as you are not putting bulk-erasers next to your disks!
Chkdsk will run on boot if the system has detected problems with your hard disk. If it fails the problem may be serious and can result in instability.
There are choices that you can make when booting from CD that will tell Windows to not just install Windows, but actually format the entire hard disk first.
The big risk is that this kind of a blue screen (when you're defragging) indicates a physical problem with the hard disk. Backup right away!
Shredders or Secure Delete tools actually address two distinct problems, only one of which applies to Flash. Addressing the other could be harmful.
Disk cleanup and CCleaner can both be run on your computer - but do you need to keep them both?
USB drives are made with different longevity requirements than Solid State Drives (SSD). Life expectancy is now well managed.
Hard drives fail, and external drives are no different. I'll look at the implications of external hard drive failure, and what you should do.
Technological nit-picking aside, I feel very confident that running DBan erases the hard drive, but it's important to use DBan properly and make sure it erases the entire hard drive.
Compressing files prior to archiving to CD or DVD doesn't increase the chance of corruption, but could dramatically increase the impact, if it happens.
Reformatting does not completely erase all traces of files from a hard drive but, so far, no viruses are known to be able to recover from a reformat. Repartitioning does something all together different.
I would start by getting a hard drive connector cable, which is essentially a USB enclosure without a box. They're usually multi-connected at the drive end and can plug into old drives.
This disk is definitely on the verge... in fact, it's probably over the verge. Clearly, you can't get your data off of it and recovery options are limited.
Your options for what to do with a dead hard drive depend on the cause of death, and the possibility of resuscitation.
You can safely wipe old hard drives using a USB connector and free software. Giving them away will require a local solution.
Backing up to DVD is easy with a backup program or a DVD burner. Copying a video DVD, however, requires a different tool, and may be illegal.
Audio CDs use a completely different format than the data CDs or DVDs you might use in your computer. As a result, they require a different approach to create.
Burning files to CD is a great way to back up or to easily transfer files elsewhere. There are several burning options including Windows itself.
Converting a disk drive or partition from FAT32 to NTFS is fairly easy. We'll look at when you might want to, and the few options for converting back.
A computer defrag is most often accessed by hard disk drive properties on My Computer. We can recover My Computer, and defrag without it too.
Two things to try are to analyze your backup program and the allocation of your disk space.
CRC errors happen when there's a bad spot on the media of your hard disk. Data recovery and disk repair are often possible with the right tools.
Once a flash drive starts to show wear by having errors, you shouldn't treat it like a hard disk. You'll be much safer replacing it.
Hard disk errors come from several different sources, and as a result there are several different approaches to resolving them.
Formatting a drive that is showing as unformatted can be done directly in a USB enclosure.
There are several options for recovering your data, but the big problem is that these important photos were only in one place!
Extracting data from a dead computer's hard drive isn't typically all that hard - unless it's the drive itself that caused the problem.
A USB floppy drive is a simple answer to getting your data off old disks.
The most painful part of a computer crash is often the loss of data. I'll look at what to do to minimize the loss and to try to recover.
It is possible to set a new, faster, SSD drive as the main drive in your computer. Many of the steps are the same as reformatting, so you'll start by backing up...
Burning a CD or DVD is complicated by the fact that there are three distinct types of thing you might want to burn. I'll look at what that means.
It is trivial to install an SSD as another drive, but typically, people want the faster drive for their operating system. That involves swapping around your operating system from one drive to the other.
Periodically defragmenting a hard drive can significantly improve its performance. I'll review how often makes sense and when you shouldn't.
Free space wiping removes the ability to undelete files. Whether or not you need it, or how often, depends on how interesting your data might be.
Erasing your hard drive before you give it away is important. Exactly how thorough an erase you need depends on your data and level of paranoia.
Hard drives can last a long time if properly cared for. More often than not issues result not from hardware, but from easily managed data and software.
Backed up means your data is in more than one place... then a broken drive won't matter as much. There are a few options to try.
Intermittent hard drive failure is not a good sign. First, backup, and then we'll go through some steps to get it fixed.
What looks like overwriting a file's data often is not. I'll look at how files are updated and what that implies for their recoverability.
Solid state drives with flash memory will wear out much slower than their very cheap counterparts in thumbdrives and dongles.
Surprisingly, it just might be faster to copy to an empty disk. But the reason for this is a little more complex than simply the amount of data on a drive.
Leaving a flash drive or USB thumbdrive plugged in all the time can run a risk of prematurely wearing it out. We'll look at why, and what to do.
Originally CD burners and PCs were slow, and it was a bad idea to try to do anything else while a CD was being burned. I'll look at the situation today.
Many machines come with a portion of their hard disk set aside as a recovery partition. When visible as a drive, some maintenance operations are safe.
USB Flash Drives and USB External Hard Disks can be used on your computer in much the same way. There may be a few formatting requirements.
Hard disks continue to increase in size, as does what we're storing on them. There are limits, but not limits that most people need to worry about.
There is a free recipe of programs available online, which can help you run a DVD directly from your computer's hard drive.
RAID is a valuable technology for improving apparent disk speed and fault tolerance, but it is in no way a replacement for backing up.
Constant writing to a thumb drive is going to wear it out. I suggest a few alternatives for keeping your files safe.
Flash drives are popular, convenient and extremely useful. But they can fail, and knowing that means you need to take preventative measures right away.
An overheating hard drive is serious. Before replacing it, it's best to solve the heat issue. Oh yes, and are you backed up?
I recently replaced the primary hard drive on my primary machine with an SSD. I'll walk you through the steps I took that made the process relatively pain-free.
FAT32 and NTFS are two different file systems or ways of storing data on hard disks. Each have pros and cons. I tend to prefer NTFS, and explain why.
We've all been told that defragmenting a hard disk is a good thing for performance, but the same is most definitely not true for flash drives.
External hard drives are a great convenience, but they're often used in different ways. As a result, maintenance needs may also be different.
External hard drives are convenient for many reasons. But should they be left on all the time? The answer's never as simple as you think.
When formatting a disk you have the option for a "quick" format. We'll look at what's quick about it, and when you should and should not choose it.
CD/DVD drives and even hard disks can suddenly slow down if the system elects to change a setting from DMA to PIO. I'll look at why, and where.
Flash memory card readers connected to your computer often appear in disk management, taking up drive letters even though they're not currently in use.
SMART, or Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, could be indicating a failing hard drive. You may have to take further steps.
I/O device errors indicate a problem with storage media you're attempting to read from or write to. I/O device errors should not be ignored.
Your computer's BIOS is often the source of cryptic error messages on boot. "Pri Master HDD Error" is an example of an apparent hard disk failure.
Most hard drives include technology to self monitor and warn of potential problems. The warnings are worth paying attention to.
CD-ROMs and now DVDs have become common components in computer equipment. But what does it mean when someone says the speed is 48X? We'll explain.
RAID uses multiple hard drives to "look like" a single drive increasing either speed, reliability or both. RAID 0 is a configuration with serious risk.
Slack space is unused, inaccessible space on a hard drive. I'll look at where it comes from, what you can do, and why it usually doesn't matter much.
Keeping digital data for a long time, say over 10 or 20 years, presents several unique problems that you'll want to plan on addressing.
NAS, for Network Attached Storage, is a device that provides shared disk space on your network. You may already have one of a sort: your PC.
UDF format is simply just another way that CDs can be written.
How can you protect your data long term from media degradation to loss and theft? We'll look at hard drives and a variety of media types and discuss revisiting your storage periodically.
SATA and PATA are two different and incompatible disk drive interfaces. PATA's the old guard, but SATA's taking over. I'll look at the differences.
DBan has a user interface that allows you to select drives to be nuked. Be sure to look at your options as you move through the process.
Sometimes, hard drives just go bad and the data is lost; and sometimes, it is recoverable. I talk about the signs of a physically damaged drive.
I'm not sure that replacing the laser is going to solve the problem, or that you'll end up with a working DVD drive after installing and aligning it.
This is a typical error for a hard drive failure... and another example of just how critical it is to have a full backup of your system.
What you're really going for with defragging is speed. It doesn't have to be perfect to get the lion's share of speed improvement from defragging a disk.
If you can't burn to a blank DVD, you'll need to narrow down exactly what's causing the problem. The failure may be in the media or the drive.
CD's are great for backup and storage. However CD-R's are not so good for files that you need to directly access from certain programs.
Sometimes media on a disc is incompatible with a particular drive causing it to not work properly. Unfortunately, there are limited options for solving this.
The error message is literally telling you exactly what's wrong: there was an input/output error on the device.
Constant disk activity could be caused by Chrome updating in the background. There are a few steps that can be done with Process Explorer to help further diagnose the problem.
Twice a year when daylight saving time or summertime begins and ends, file time comparisons can be off if you're using differing file systems.
There are a lot of differences in the quality of CD/DVD drives and their ability to recover data from a disc.
Issues copying files are most often traceable to hard disk issues, but there are many other potential causes as well.
Spinning and freezing is not a good sign for this hard drive. There is usually only one easy way to get on with your life in a case like this.
Laptop hard drives are made to be fairly rugged but there are limits. Here are some things to help make your laptop hard disk last as long as possible.
Error messages don't always give enough clues as to what might be going on, but they often point the way to start digging for the answer.
Before you can remove a removable device, Windows needs to make sure no programs are still accessing it. If one or more are, you can't "safely remove".
Problems reading CDs in a DVD drive could be because the CD is faulty, or your drive is incompatible. There is an easy way to tell which it is.
File corruption happens most commonly when there's a hardware issue or bad sector on your hard drive. I'll look at implications and preventative steps.
Deleting games will definitely free up some disk space, but perhaps there is more you could do.
Drilling a hard drive will certainly destroy it! Your data should be safe from most recovery efforts.
USB Flash drives are useful for many things, but not for running your system from them long term. We'll look at why, and a Windows Vista alternative.
Putting a label on a CD or DVD you've burned yourself seems like a good way to identify it later, but you do need to be careful in how you label it.
We need to focus in on what is causing your machine to be overloaded and see what we can do about that before we start throwing hardware at the problem.
Deleting recovered files can be done with several utilities to clean up free space and make the old files completely unrecoverable.
Creating a large file and then deleting it overwrites anything on your computer's free space: but that's still not enough to protect yourself when giving away a computer.