Replacing Old Hard Drives – March 4th, 2009

I’m an advocate of replacing old ‘working’ hard drives because, statistically speaking, they are more likely to fail. After a hard drive reaches 4 years of age, and each year after that, it becomes more and more likely that it will fail. Again, statistically speaking.

Do you wait until you have a flat tire and you’re possibly stranded somewhere before you consider replacing your tires? Why should it be any different with our hard drives and our data? I have a great free utility that can tell you how many hours your hard drive has been on (like an odometer shows how many miles have been put on a car) and, continuing with my tire analogy, even if your hard drive has relatively few hours on it, the age of the hard drive will also play a factor when considering whether or not it should be replaced.

The utility I refer to above is called Crystal Disk Info and it’s available from:

This utility requires no installation. This means you just run the executable file (even off of a flash drive if you prefer) and it will analyze the status of your hard drive(s).

Pay particular attention to the power on hours and the health status. If it says anything other than GOOD in the healthy status, I highly recommend you consider replacing your hard drive as soon as possible.

Hard drives more than 4 years old are, more than likely, small in capacity.
For as little as $50 a 250GB hard drive can be purchased, which will not only have a brand new warranty, but most likely will be faster and quieter than your current hard drive.

Using another free utility, you can ‘clone’ your old hard drive to your new hard drive. Cloning a hard drive means you are making an exact replica of all of the data on one hard drive onto another hard drive. Once the cloning is complete, you pull your old hard drive out, leaving the new hard drive installed by itself and when you reboot the computer, all of your data, software and configuration is exactly the same, only you should have more free space (assuming you’re replacing your old hard drive with a new hard drive of larger capacity).

This utility is called DriveImageXML and is available from:

And you can read more about how it works here:,2817,2259194,00.asp

Or, if you spend a few bucks, I recommend using my favorite disk cloning utility, Acronis True Image Home. Not only will it make the cloning process so much easier, you can continue to use it to create backups of your data, so if you ever suffer a data loss or hard drive failure, you can be back in business in no time and little stress.

Speaking of backups, I recommend you take the old hard drive and put it in a closet or drawer somewhere. It still has every bit of your data on it and is a great emergency backup (just like replacing an old tire and keeping the old tire as a temporary emergency spare). Just as a perfectly new tire could fail, your new hard drive could fail as well. However, this scenario is highly unlikely, but at least you’re covered either way. If you’re considering leaving this drive in your computer and re-using it to store any data or programs, perhaps you should start reading this article over from the beginning. 🙂

If you’re a tech, I highly encourage you to read the manufacturing date printed on the hard drives of the computers your clients bring in and follow the advice in this article to up-sell them and help them to avoid disaster.

— Carey Holzman

Posted in Newsletter

5 Responses to “Replacing Old Hard Drives”

  1. u-al says:

    Thanks for the article on hard drives Carey. I ran Crystal Disk Info and got a 38 on Current Pending Sector Count. Will running chkdsk fix the problem? All other readings are good.

  2. Antwon Rockyhorror says:

    great tool in Crystal Disk. Do you know if there is a free, simple tool that can be used to clone a Linux or Unix hard drive which came out of an appliance like a firewall or security appliance?

  3. Mark says:


    Can you tell me leaving my hard drive running all the time or putting it to sleep would increase the life of the drive?

    Secondly, if a drive is asleep, will all backup software wake it up?


  4. mark s. says:

    great podcast and great tools. I’m using pc fixer now on my Vista desktop now, I used it on 2 of my laptops and it booted and responded significantly faster. I wonder if either of you has run the malicious software removal tool manually. I ran it and found several Trojans, fortunately they were in my junk folder and had never been executed.
    To run it in Vista or XP type mrt in a command prompt and select deep or quick scan it’s actually very effective.

  5. Aiden says:

    Hi, I need to replace a hard drive that is running windows 3.1, which runs a point of sale software, How can I do this, I have tryed to plug it into a system with win xp but it will not see the hard drive with 3.2 on it ?



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