Saturday, August 22, 2015

Top 30 Most Interactive Tech Blogs

Discover the findings of our report / analysis.
The object of this study was to examine contents of blogs chosen from Tech Blogs list - powered by (20th of October). We examined 5128 blog posts created from 14th to 20th October 2013. They were commented (on-site) 107241 times. On average, users created 21 comments per article. At the same time people shared those articles with their friends/followers/subscribers from Facebook and Twitter- 415 266 and 895 462 times respectively.

We created 14 categories to measure interactivity: average onsite comments per post, total onsite comments, total Facebook likes, total Facebook shares, total Facebook comments, average Facebook likes per post, average Facebook shares per post, average Facebook comments per post, average Facebook interactions (total) per post, total Twitter shares, average Twitter shares per post, total Twitter + Facebook interactions , average Twitter + FB interactions per post.

The blogs that appear most frequently in the top 5 for the mentioned categories are: (13 times), (12), (12) and (11). always takes either first or second place, whenever it shows up in one of categories.

In the analyzed period generated the highest number of interactions (more than blogs number 2 and 3 combined). was the most engaging blog on Facebook, where it generated nearly 120k FB comments. It would be more than all other chosen blogs altogether, if it wasn’t for, which generated more than 95k comments.

The Verge and Gizmodo lead the way in terms of number of regular/onsite comments with well over 20 000 total comments each. was the most active blog, generating almost as many posts as blogs number 2-5 combined. was the most onsite-engaging blog with an average of 149 comments per article .

Mashable and BusinessInsider generated the majority of Facebook Likes during our analysis. Both generated about 250k fb likes. It is especially impressive for Mashable which generated more Facebok likes than BusinessInsider while generating 3 times fewer posts.

When it comes to Facebook shares, is the victorious blog with nearly 150k shares. owes its victory in this category to its high number of average Facebook Shares per article (407 comments per post).

Twitter users mostly shared articles from and, which generated altogether over 450k shares. In comparison, all other blogs combined generated around 440k shares.
Full results.
View the full results for our Tech Blogs interactivity analysis.
Winners of the Most Interactive Tech Blogs Awards.
Mashable is a leading source for news, information & resources for the Connected Generation. Mashable reports on the importance of digital innovation and how it empowers and inspires people around the world. Mashable's 22 million monthly unique visitors and 13 million social media followers have become one of the most engaged digital networks in the world.

  • 852 149 total interactions
  • 363 blog posts
  • 2343 average social media interactions per post
  • 340 757 total Twitter shares
  • 147 696 total Facebook shares
The Verge was founded in 2011 in partnership with Vox Media, and covers the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture. Its mission is to offer in-depth reporting and long-form feature stories, breaking news coverage, product information, and community content in a unified and cohesive manner. The site is powered by Vox Media's Chorus platform, a modern media stack built for web-native news in the 21st century.

  • 203 304 total interactions
  • 279 blog posts
  • 21 841 total on-site comments
  • 70 803 total Twitter shares
  • 33 101 total Facebook shares
Business Insider is a fast-growing business site with deep financial, media, tech, and other industry verticals. The flagship vertical, Silicon Alley Insider, launched on July 19, 2007, led by DoubleClick founders Dwight Merriman and Kevin  Ryan and former top-ranked Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget.

  • 602 705 total interactions
  • 1153 blog posts
  • 20 992 total on-site comments
  • 98 867 total Twitter shares
  • 125 120 total Facebook shares is a website focused on Apple news and rumors. MacRumors attracts a broad audience of both consumers and professionals interested in the latest technologies and products. The site also boasts an active community focused on purchasing decisions and technical aspects of the iPhone, iPod and Macintosh platforms.

  • 27 161 total interactions
  • 42 blog posts
  • 6237 total on-site comments
  • 7404 total Twitter shares
  • 1822 total Facebook shares

About the analysis.

The object of this analysis was to examine contents of blogs chosen from Top Tech Blogs list (powered by / 20th of October). We examined 5128 blog posts created from 14th to 20th October 2013. They were commented (on-site) 107241 times. On average users created 21 comments per article. At the same time people shared those articles with their friends from Facebook and Twitter 415 266 and 895 462 times accordingly. 

We analysed 2 476 124 interactions related to Top 30 Tech Blogs (according to / 20th of October 2013). The analysis was created using data collected by Brand24 social media monitoring and analytics tool.                             

Friday, August 21, 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Your Salary Slip

Every month, your finance department will send you a salary slip once the salary gets paid out.
For most people, the importance of salary slip is only when they apply for a loan or a new credit card. Otherwise, the confusing terms and figures seem like a puzzle you don’t want to solve.
But here’s why you might want to understand your salary slip better.
  • Choose smartly from competing offers when you are looking to switch jobs
  • Optimize tax liability by making full use of the deductions available
  • Understand what percentage of your salary is forced savings (EPF, ESI etc.)

The income part of your salary slip

#1: Basic Salary
It’s the most important component of your salary and generally comprises 35-50 % of your total salary. Most of the other components are structured around it.

Tax Implications: 100% taxable
Adds to in-hand? Yes

# 2. House Rent Allowance:

It’s an allowance to pay your house rent. Normally, HRA is 40-50 % of the basic, based on your location (metro or non-metro).
Tax Implications: You get tax exemption based on whichever of the following is lower
  • 40% of your basic pay
  • Actual rent minus 10 % of basic
  • HRA component specified on your salary slip
Adds to in-hand? Generally Yes

# 3. Conveyance Allowance:

It’s paid by the company towards cost of travel from home to work and back and is exempt from Income tax.

Tax Implications: Rs 1600 per month or the conveyance allowance component in your salary slip, whichever is lower, is exempted from tax.

Adds to in-hand? Yes, depending on how much you actually spend.

# 4. Leave Travel Allowance:

It’s given by employers to cover the cost of employee travel while on leave. It includes travel expenses of your immediate family members as well.

Tax Implications: Proof of journey required to avail deduction subject to certain limits. Any expenses incurred during the trip apart from travel does not count towards your LTA tax exemption. The exemption is also applicable only for 2 journeys undertaken in a block of 4 calendar years.

Adds to in-hand? No.

# 5. Medical Allowance:
It is given by employers to cover any medical expenses incurred during the period of employment. It is also generally a reimbursed expense and thus subject to providing proof of expense.

Tax Implications: The allowance is exempt up to 15,000 per annum subject to proof of expenses such as medical bills.

Adds to in-hand? Yes. If you fail to provide the proof, you still receive the amount, but will be fully taxed.

# 6.  Performance Bonus and Special Allowance:
It is given to reward or encourage employee performance and varies with performance or company guidelines.

Tax Implication: 100% Taxable

Adds to in-hand? Yes. It can be variable and therefore, difficult to assess as part of your in-hand.

Other Allowances: There are quite a few other kinds of allowances based on the industry or the company. Most such allowances are fully taxable. They might or might not add to your in-hand salary based on the conditions they are subject to.
Make sure you talk to the HR and get a clear understanding of the in-hand and tax implications of your salary components.

The deduction part of your salary slip

# 1. Provident Fund:
PF is typically 12% of your basic salary which is put into a government controlled body, Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation. Your contribution is typically matched by the company subject to certain maximum amount, defined as per the company policy.  You can also choose to opt out from the PF scheme.

How to lower this deduction? You can choose to opt out of the PF scheme. In case you opt out, make sure you invest it regularly in better investment options like equity mutual funds that gives you a higher return. If you are unsure of investing the money, it’s best to stay invested in PF.

# 2. Professional Tax:
This is payable only in the following states-Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Gujarat, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Orissa, Tripura, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh. It normally amounts to just a few hundred rupees each month and is subject to your gross tax slab.
This amount is deducted from your taxable income.

How to lower this deduction? This deduction cannot be lowered.

# 3. Tax deductible at source:
This amount, which is decided based on your overall tax slab, is deducted on behalf of the income-tax department by your employer.

How to lower this deduction? You can reduce this burden by investing in tax savings instruments under Section 80 C or other sections under the IT act.

Things to keep in mind when comparing salary slips in offers:

# 1. Your basic salary is critical as most of your allowances will be based on that figure.
# 2. Look for special allowances and check whether they are performance or event based.

#3. Do not focus only on the in-hand salary. Look at the other benefits the company provides (health insurance, accident insurance, free food, bus transport, better career growth) which might outmatch a higher in-hand salary offer from some other company

Top 10 Mobile Phones Released in August 2015: Devices You Can Buy - OnePlus 2, Meizu M2 Note, Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime, Galaxy A8 and More

India has become a hot target for mobile phone companies owing to growth potential and over a dozen devices were launched in August. Several handsets including OnePlus 2, Meizu M2 Note, Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime, Galaxy A8 and Gionee Marathon M4 have hit the stores.
Devices like Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe, Asus Zenfone Laser, Asus Zenfone Selfie, Sony Xperia C5 Ultra and Xperia M5 were also unveiled in August, but they haven't been released in the market till the time of filing this story.
Here are top 10 mobile phones released in India in the month of August:

1) OnePlus 2

Current Price: Rs 22,999 for 16 GB, Rs 24,999 for 64 GB
Display: 5.5-inch full HD LCD screen with 920x1080 pixels (401 ppi pixel density)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 series
Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Storage: 16 GB internal memory and 3 GB RAM, and 32 GB and 4 GB RAM (no microSD card slot)
Camera: 13 MP main camera, 5 MP front snapper
Battery: 3,300 mAh

2) Meizu M2 Note

Current Price: Rs 9,999
Display: 5.5-inch full HD IGZO capacitive touchscreen with 1080 x 1920 pixels (403 ppi pixel density)
Processor: Mediatek MT6753
Operating System: Flyme 4.5 based on Android 5.0 Lollipop
Storage: 16/32 GB internal memory, expandable up to 128 GB, 3 GB RAM
Camera: 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front snapper
Battery: 3,100 mAh

3) Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime

Current Price: Rs 6,999
Display: 4.7-inch HD IPS touchscreen with 1280 x 720p (312 ppi pixel density)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Operating System: Android with MIUI 6
Storage: 16 GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB, 2 GB RAM
Camera: 8 MP main camera, 2 MP front snapper
Battery: 2,200 mAh

4) Samsung Galaxy A8

Current Price: Rs 32,500
Display: 5.7-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with 1920x1080p (386 ppi pixels density)
Processor: Exynos 5430
Operating System: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Storage: 32GB internal memory, expandable up to 128 GB, 2 GB RAM
Camera: 16 MP rear camera, 5 MP front snapper
Battery: 3,050 mAh

5) Gionee Marathon M4

Current Price: Rs 15,000
Display: 5.0-inch HD super AMOLED display with 1280x720p (294 ppi Pixel density)
Processor: Cortex-A7
Operating System: Android 5.0 Lollipop with Amigo v3.0 UI
Storage: 16GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB, 2 GB RAM
Camera: 8 MP main camera, 5 MP front snapper
Battery: 5,000 mAh

6) Panasonic Eluga Icon

Current Price: Rs 10,999
Display: 5.5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 720 x 1280 pixels (267 ppi pixel density)
Processor: MediaTek TRU
Operating System: Android 4.4 KitKat
Storage: 16 GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB, 2 GB RAM
Camera: 13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
Battery: 3,500 mAh

7) BlackBerry Porsche Design P'9983 Graphite

Current Price: Rs 99,990
Display: 3.1-inch screen with 720x720p (330 ppi pixel density)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (MSM8960)
Operating System: BlackBerry 10 OS
Storage: 64 GB internal camera, expandable up to 128 GB, 2 GB RAM
Camera: 8 MP main camera, 2 MP front camera
Battery: 2,100mAh

8) Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime

Current Price: Rs 11,100
Display: 5-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with 540 x 960 pixels (220 ppi pixel density)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Operating System: Android 4.4.4 KitKat
Storage: 8 GB internal memory expandable up to 64 GB, 1 GB RAM
Camera: 8 MP main camera, 5 MP secondary snapper
Battery: 2,600 mAh

9) Lenovo A2010

Current Price: RS 4,990
Display: 4.5-inch FWVGA TFT capacitive touchscreen with 480 x 854 pixels (218 ppi pixel density)
Processor: MediaTek MT6735M
Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Storage: 8 GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB, 1 GB RAM
Camera: 5 MP main camera, 2 MP front snapper
Battery: 2,000 mAh

10) Lava Iris X1 Selfie

Current Price: Rs 6,777
Display: 4.5-inch touchscreen with 854x480 pixels
Processor: MediaTek MT6580
Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop
Storage: 8 GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB, 1 GB RAM
Camera: 8 MP main camera, 5 MP front camera

Battery: 2,000 mAh

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Best free backup software: 11 programs recommend

Protect your files from disaster, entirely free of charge, with these backup programs

From viruses and software bugs, to hardware failure or human error, there are many potential dangers waiting to trash your files.
And if the worst happens - you lose personal photos, your music library, important business documents - then that could be a real disaster. Which is why it's a very good idea to back up your PC on a regular basis.
This is never going to be fun, of course, but with the right software it'll be easier than you think. And you may not have to spend anything, either, because there are some great free backup and disk cloning tools around.
Whether you want to copy the contents of your Documents folder somewhere, clone one drive to another, or create a backup image of your entire system, we've found plenty of programs that can help.
So what's the best free backup and disk cloning software? Read on for our recommendations.

1. AOMEI Backupper

Download AOMEI Backupper
If you like your backup programs to be simple than AOMEI Backupper's straightforward interface will appeal immediately. Choose the drive or partition to back up, the destination drive, and a click later Backupper will be creating an image for you.
The program has plenty of power, though, if you need it. There are options to encrypt or compress your backups. You can create incremental or differential backups for extra speed. You're able to restore individual files and folders, or the entire image, and there are even disk and partition cloning tools.
What you can't do, unfortunately, is schedule backups - they must be run manually. But otherwise AOMEI Backupper is an excellent tool, packed with features yet also easy to use.

2. EaseUS Todo Backup Free

Download EaseUS Todo Backup Free
Just like most free (for personal use) editions of commercial products, EaseUS Todo Backup Free has a few limitations - but the package still has more than enough features for most people.
The program can run both image and file-based backups, for instance, manually or on a schedule. You're able to run full or incremental backups.
EaseUS Todo Backup Free
An option to limit write speed reduces the impact backups have on your system performance. It's possible to individual files or folders, or an entire image via the program's recovery disc. And there are tools to clone and wipe drives, too.
On the negative side, you don't get encryption, there's no differential backup, and you only get a Linux-based disc (not Windows PE). But EaseUS Todo Backup Free still looks like a great program to us.

3. Redo Backup and Recovery

Download Redo Backup and Recovery
Redo Backup and Recovery is an imaging backup tool with a difference. Instead of installing a program, you download a large (249MB) ISO file, and burn it to CD or USB key drive. Then just boot from it to launch a simple tool which can back up your drives, and restore them later (even if Windows won't start).
There's also an undelete tool, and even a web browser if you need to look for help on your PC problems.
Redo Backup and Recovery
The program isn't exactly convenient, then. You can't schedule backups, they all have to be run manually, and there are very few options.
But it's also easy to use and free for everyone, so if you only want to run backups occasionally - or want a system you can use on any PC, without installing software - then it might be worth a look.

4. Cobian Backup

Download Cobian Backup
Cobian Backup is an excellent file backup tool with lots of features. You get full, differential and incremental backups, for instance; zip or 7zip compression; AES 256-bit encryption; include and exclude filters; a strong scheduler, backup to or from FTP servers, and the list goes on. Every aspect of the program is extremely configurable, too (there are more than 100 settings you can tweak).
Cobian Backup
PC or backup novices are likely to find this a little overwhelming. If you're more experienced, though, you'll love the amount of control Cobian Backup gives you over every aspect of the backup process.

5. Macrium Reflect Free

Download Macrium Reflect Free
One of the most popular free (for home use) disk imaging programs around, Macrium Reflect Free delivers a solid, if basic feature set via an easy-to-use interface.
The program doesn't have incremental or differential backups. And you don't get encryption or password protection. This does make creating a backup job very easy, though (choose the source drive, the destination, maybe set the compression level and you're done).
Macrium Reflect Free
There's a capable scheduler; you can mount images in Windows Explorer, or restore them entirely with both Linux and Windows PE-based recovery discs. And overall Macrium Reflect Free is a great choice for anyone who wants a simple but reliable image backup tool.

6. DriveImage XML

Download DriveImage XML
Free for personal use, DriveImage XML is a lightweight alternative to the more bulky imaging competition. Backup is as easy as choosing a source drive, a destination, and (optionally) setting your compression level.
Restoration is just as simple, and the only significant extra is an option to copy directly from one drive to another.
DriveImage XML
There are some complications elsewhere. Click "Task Scheduler", for instance, and you'll get instructions on how to manually set up Windows Task Scheduler to run your backups. But if you need just a basic drive imaging tool then give DriveImage XML a try.

7. FBackup

Download FBackup
FBackup is a capable file backup tool, free for both personal and commercial use. The interface is simple and straightforward, and there are a number of features you don't always see elsewhere.
Plug-ins allow you to back up individual programs with a click; there's support for include and exclude filters; and you can run "mirror" backups, which just copy everything without zipping it up (which makes restoring files very easy).
Compression isn't so good, though (it's the weak Zip2), and the scheduler is also more basic than you'll see elsewhere. But if your needs are simple (or you're tired of "free for personal use" tools) then FBackup should appeal.

8. Backup Maker

Download Backup Maker
At first the free-for-personal-use BackupMaker seems like any other file backup tool, with incremental or full backups available, scheduling, compression, encryption, include and exclude filters, and so on.
But interesting extras include support for online backups to FTP servers, and running backups automatically when a USB device is connected.
Backup Maker
The program stores data in Zip files, too, making them very convenient to access. And Backup Maker comes in a tiny 6.5MB download, far more manageable than some of the bulky competition.
If you're a home user looking for capable file backup then Backup Maker could be ideal.

9. Clonezilla

Download Clonezilla
Just like Redo Backup and Recovery, Clonezilla isn't a program you install: it's a bootable environment which you can launch from a CD or USB flash drive.
And it's seriously powerful, to you're able to create an image of a drive; restore an image (to one drive, or many at the same time); or clone a drive (copy one drive to another), with plenty of low-level control over how this works.
While Redo Backup and Recovery focuses on ease of use, though, Clonezilla is more about providing advanced options, like "run unattended Clonezilla via PXE booting". It's not complicated - it's probably the best free disk cloning software around - but the program is aimed at experienced users, and backup beginners should look elsewhere.

10. Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free

Download Paragon Backup and Recovery 2013 Free
Another free (for personal use) version of a commercial drive imaging product, Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free is a good tool with some restrictions.
There's strong support for the basics: you can create image backups (full or differential), compress and encrypt them, use exclude filters to help define what's included, run backups on a schedule, then restore specific files and folders or the entire image.
Paragon Backup
Extras include the "capsule", a separate partition to help keep your backups safe. And a good set of basic partition tools is included, too.
Problems? You don't get incremental backup; you can't clone disks or partitions, and the interface occasionally feels a little complex. Still, Paragon Backup & Recovery 2013 Free is a quality tool, and well worth your attention.

11. Duplicati

Download Duplicati
If you need online file backups then Duplicati is one of the most versatile tools around, with support for saving files to SkyDrive, Google Docs, FTP servers, Amazon S3, Rackspace Cloudfiles and WEBDAV-based storage.
The program can also save to local and network drives, though, and includes plenty of useful options (AES-256 encryption, password protection, a capable scheduler, full and incremental backups, regular expression support for the include/ exclude filters, even upload and download speed limits to reduce any impact on your system).

So whether you're saving files to the web, or locally, there's something for you here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

5 Signs Your Hard Drive Lifetime is Ending & What To Do

Every one of us owns precious files like personal documents, photos, videos, or audio files, and we typically store them on hard drives. Few people realize that most electronic storage devices, including hard drives, have a rather limited lifetime when compared to the ancient ways of storing information, such as stone, papyrus, paper, or old school records. The average lifetime of a stationary hard drive today is around 5 – 10 years, depending on the type and manufacturer, and it rapidly declines if the drive is subject to strong variations in temperature, humidity, and motion as in not being stationary.
Since a majority of people today own laptops and external hard drives, which get dragged around quite a bit, a realistic hard drive lifetime is probably around 3 – 5 years. This is an extremely short time to reliably store important data. In the best of cases, hard drives fail gradually, giving you the chance to react, get a copy of your data, and replace the storage device before facing a fatal failure. There are a host of signs that hint to a gradual failure of your hard drive. If you are unsure how much life is left on your hard drive, read this article to find out what signs may reveal an approaching failure.

1. Slowing Down Computer, Frequent Freezes, Blue Screen Of Death

These are very unspecific signs that can be caused by a million different things. However, regardless of what the issue behind these symptoms is, it is recommended that you immediately make a backup. If these problems occur after a fresh installations or in Windows Safe Mode, it is almost certain that it is due to bad hardware, and possibly a failing hard drive.
failing hard drive

2. Corrupted Data

If you’re beginning to find files that fail to open and are corrupted even though they saved without errors or if files suddenly disappear, you should get worried. While again this could be due to a multitude of issues, it is also a typical sign for a gradual hard drive failure.
hard drive failure

3. Accumulation Of Bad Sectors

Bad sectors are areas of the hard drive that do not maintain data integrity. They are automatically masked by the operating system and thus hard to identify, especially if large amounts of the disk are currently in use. If you actually run into bad sectors, however, that certainly is a bad sign.
You can run a manual disk check to identify errors that Windows has not spotted, yet. In Windows 7, go to > Start > Computer and right-click on the disk or partition you wish to check. Select > Properties, in the window that opens switch to the >Tools tab and click > Check now… In the Checking Disk window place a checkmark next to > Automatically fix file system errors and > Scan for an attempt recovery of bad sectors.
hard drive failure
Windows will also check for bad sectors, when you perform a full format or chkdsk command. See this article – The Difference Between Windows Full Format & Quick Format [Technology Explained].

4. Strange Sounds

When you hear strange noises coming from your hard drive, it may be too late already. A repetitive sound also known as the click of death is caused by the head as it is trying to write data and recovers from errors in doing so. Grinding or screeching noises indicate that parts of the hardware, for example the bearings or spindle motor, are failing.

5. S.M.A.R.T. Data

There are tools that aim to predict hard drive failure by reading the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) data that is recorded by the operating system. Unfortunately, like most other methods listed above, S.M.A.R.T. is notoriously unreliable in predicting hard drive failure and the catastrophe will often happen before the warning of S.M.A.R.T. kicks in. If you have a working hard drive, however, and would like to have a look at its S.M.A.R.T. data, check out this article – 4 Tools To Predict and Prevent Hard Drive Failure
hard drive failure

I Think My Hard Drive Is Failing, What Shall I Do?

So you are worried that a hard drive failure is just around the corner? The truth is, even if you are not worried, it is! The only thing you can do is always keep backups of your data on a second hard drive. The likelihood that both drives will fail simultaneously are very rare. An exception would be natural disasters like floods or fires. For these cases, I recommend to keep a copy of your most important data in a different physical location, for example at work or with a friend, or possibly on a remote server, for example by using an online backup solution.
failing hard drive
For more information how to back up data, read my PDF manual Stuff Happens: The Backup & Restore Guide.


Do not rely on signs or software to tell you whether you have a failing hard drive. It is more likely than not that it will fail unexpectedly and without any warning signs whatsoever. Rather than trying to forecast something that is even less predictable than the weather, you should rely on backups.
What is your worst hardware failure nightmare, did it ever happen to you, and did you actually lose any data?

Signs Your Hard Drive Lifetime is Ending & What To Do

Losing data can be a real disaster, but thankfully hard drives often show warning signs before they die. If you observe any of these nine signs of impending failure, back up your drive immediately and prepare for the worst.

What's more boring than an old hard drive? Not much ... until it suddenly isn't. When that little package of chips, wires and glass dies, it can be panic time.
It often happens with little or no warning, and if you haven't recently performed a backup, your files, music and pictures could be toast. Sometimes there are clear warning signs of impending failure. If you know what those signs are, and keep any eye out for them, you can usually avoid data Armageddon. (Datageddon?)

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The drives most prone to failure are the older, electro-mechanical devices that store data on a rapidly spinning disk. Modern solid state drives (SSDs) fail as well, but it happens less frequently.

How to tell your hard drive is about to die

I recently chatted with David Zimmerman, CEO of data recovery firm LC Technology International, who makes a living rescuing panicked computer users. Here are some common warning signs of a conventional hard drive's impending failure, from Zimmerman.

  • Frequent and cryptic error messages while performing typical activities like moving files
  • Folder and file names that are scrambled and changed
  • Disappearing files and folders
  • Really long wait times to access folders and files
  • Hard disk is silent for a long period after you request data by opening a file or folder
  • Garbled output from open files or printing
  • Hard drive grinds away constantly because of noisy bearings
  • Frequent crashes, particularly when booting up Windows
"Sound can be an excellent indicator of disk trouble," Zimmerman says. "If you previously didn't hear a peep from your hard drive but now you do, check it. If it seems much louder than usual or makes occasional clicks or grinding sounds, check it ASAP and be prepared to backup your data and replace the drive. It's almost never too late to backup"

If the problem is severe, and you're comfortable with electronics, you can remove the drive, buy an enclosure, and then plug it into a working computer. This lets you pull data off the drive without having to boot it up. Some laptops are more difficult than others to work on, so it can be a good idea to visit a repair shop and have the techies there install the enclosure.
If you can't access the data at all, you still have a few options. Zimmerman's company, and others like it, sell data recovery software that could help. Some of their products will boot machines when their hard drives can't. These types of companies also perform data recovery services, and they can sometimes rescue data from seemingly dead drives. But it's not cheap; data recovery costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the problem.
If you find yourself paying thousand of dollars to recover data, you're not going to be pleased, to say the least. So the biggest lesson here might be to back up regularly to avoid costly data recovery.