Laptop hard drives and movements

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by the_randomizer, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Okay, random question, how shock-resistant are laptop hard drives? The reason as I ask is with my Lenovo Y570 laptop, I've never actually used it on my lap, oddly enough. But this is due to paranoia, such is the way I go it seems. Obviously, some laptops tend to freak out and end up with a BSOD if the HDD stops spinning in response to thinking it's being dropped.

    To be honest, I'm indecisive of doing that with my Y570, but keep in mind that I do keep it well ventilated thanks to the laptop cooler, so I'd use that on top of lap as well, so as to avoid getting burned skin. Would it be a detriment at all to keep it on my lap while I play games and/or if I move it around while playing? Obviously I would never move it violently or have sudden jolts as that can damage the HDD. What are your guys thoughts? I mean yeah, granted, laptops were meant for laps, but as to what extent is considered safe to do to a laptop while the HDD is being accessed during a movie or a game, I'm unsure.
     
  2. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula .

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    Slow movements like just adjusting it while its on your lap shouldnt be too much of an issue and drives are designed to detect fast motion and park the heads, buts its still best to reduce movement to them while they are on where possible.

    Dropping something on a table etc where its a fast hard knock is the real killer normally. I know plenty of people who move their laptops around (gently) and have no problems after years of doing so, but that isnt to say its good for the drive.

    If you're really worried, replace it with an SSD. No moving parts and the speed boost when opening aps etc is amazing.
     
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  3. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Yeah, I could always do that one of these days, get a 256 GB SSD, install Windows 7 on it and be set. That way, I wouldn't have to be so paranoid ROFL. So in other worse, normal slow movements are fine, but sudden sharp ones are a no go..?


    Looking at Amazon, even 128 GB SSD's are cheap :P Speaking of those drives, how long would they last, esp. if the OS is constantly accessing and writing files (and running games on top of that)?
     
  4. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula .

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    Well, 'normal slow' movements should be fine, considering the number of laptops out there that get moved around with no problems, but if you're really caustious its always good to reduce it if possible.
    Its about preventing the HDDs heads from hitting the spinning platters, and hard/fast movements are certainly worse for that (dropping the thing onto a table from a inch up vs placing it down carefully, that kind of thing).

    I have worked in IT support for many years, but am no expert on them :)
     
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  5. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    What about SDD read/writes, how long would those last under normal (i.e gaming, browsing, watching videos, etc) circumstances?
     
  6. Originality

    Originality Chibi-neko

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    They're designed that rapid acceleration triggers header parking, however it's impact, heat and vibration that can cause damage.

    Impact isn't neccessarily a problem when it comes to dropping (although that actually will place physical strain and potential damage in several other parts of the system). It's mostly when the laptop is struck from a stationary position (e.g. Knocking it with your elbow/knee from a desk) during IO operations that can cause the headers to hit the platters.

    Heat lessens the effectiveness of the bearings and directly leads to vibrations. All HDDs have a very specific threshold for vibration (which can usually be found on the HDD technical specs on their websites). Needless to say, vibration interferes with IO operations and can cause the header to contact the platters, which means damage. It also wears down the bearings and the drive, but that's not so much of a concern and I'm no HDD engineer so I can't say how long they're supposed to last.

    EDIT: For SSDs, its something like 100,000 read/write cycles. I only remember reading an article that it would take something like 4 years of stress to hit the limits, and over 10 years from "average usage". Again, these details should be found in the tech specs from a manufacturer website.
     
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  7. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    So in other words, HDDs have gotten to the point that moving laptops (gently) even when reading/writing, won't be terribly detrimental, but that sudden shocks and impacts will most like cause damage. Again, I'm being overly paranoid and wouldn't like to have to replace the drive. SSDs yeah, not too sure about getting one as they wouldn't last as long, especially for my needs.
     
  8. Originality

    Originality Chibi-neko

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    Unless your needs involve writing 0s and 1s continually to all parts of the drive for over 4 years straight, they will last a fairly long time. However it is true that HDDs typically have a longer lifespan (except if its an external HDD, then all bets are off).

    As for whether or not you should get one, that depends on how you will use it. I have 2 in my PC now, one for the OS and one for Steam. It gives me fast boot speeds and quickly loads my apps, and games have reduced loading times. On the other hand, once everything is loaded then there's no further performance difference to be gained.
     
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  9. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    True, but the major downside is the price, though they have gotten a lot cheaper than when they were first released, and the prices are still going down. I don't need one now since my HDD is plugging a long just fine :P But it looks like I'll be just fine to keep it on my lap or a couch provided I don't do anything stupid B-)
     
  10. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula .

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    Originality is right, vibration (say placing a running laptop on top of a subwoofer thats up loud) is certainly something you'd want to avoid also.
    Heat shouldnt be a major issue in any decently designed laptop, but it is a limitation of HDD operating environments.

    Really if you bought a laptop to use on your lap, just do it but just be gentle. You're unlikely to have HDD issues from it.

    I've had an SSD at my main system drive for a bit over 3 years with no issues, about to upgrade to a larger one however. Even if they did fail after 4-5 years regularly, they're worth it for the speed improvement IMO. It's a little painful opening all my aps when I get to work (i5 with a single WD blue drive) when I'm used to the performance at home with a SSD.

    It is easier to move to an SSD on a desktop hoever, as theres plenty of space for multiple drives so no compromising beteween capacity or speed.
     
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  11. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    Thanks for the info you two, it helped clarify and calmed my fears regarding the use of laptops whenever I actually use it on my lap :P
     
  12. PityOnU

    PityOnU GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    It seems the issues have already been clarified in this thread, however...

    FWIW - Original iPods and Zunes all used HDD to store information all the way up to ~2007. Those things get moved around fairly regularly, as well as dropped a lot, and they never seemed to have hard drives die (maybe screen cracks and dented casings, but that's about it).

    With that in mind, I think you're pretty safe using your laptop on your lap. Even if you have RLS or are Michael Fox.

    Also, most modern laptops come with accelerometers built in that emergency park the heads of the drive if too much acceleration one way or another is detected. They are also annoying and go off ALL THE TIME. However, they save the drive and do not crash Windows, so nothing to hate there really.
     
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  13. Originality

    Originality Chibi-neko

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    As someone who fixed more than a few iPods with terminally crashed HDDs, I have to disagree with you saying they never die.
    They die with a sadface.
     
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  14. the_randomizer
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    the_randomizer The Temp's official fox whisperer

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    I don't have RLS, but I do shake my legs whenever I'm nervous lol. But thanks everyone for filling me in with this information, as I had no idea to what extent I could use a laptop on my lap ;) Sounds like I can use it, but using common sense will help. Now, you said that since the HDDs have accelerometers, it will park the heads if too muc movements are detected, and that doesn't lead to scratched platters or corrupted sectors? Now, a laptop from the 80s, yeah, I can see that being a huge issue :P