I’m into computers for a very long time now, and if there is one thing I learned over the past 15+ years it’s the physical appearance of the Hard Drive package that arrives in the mailbox doesn’t reflect the health of the Hard Drive (HD) in it! So today I’m gonna share with you some useful advice for things to check out when you receive a new HD and detect if your brand new HD is ready to be used or if you need to send it back.

HD 01

The first thing you need to check is obviously the packaging the drive comes in. Even if you can’t only rely on it if the package is damage it’s the first alarming element. Most of the time HD boxes are made to perfectly fit the HD and inside the box, the HD is well protected. Inside the box, the HD should be suspended between two plastic holders. This way, any drops that may occur during shipping time are dampened. And some sellers even put bubble pack around the HD box and put it inside another box to add an extra layer of protection.

HD 02

Here is an example of improper packing materials. The hard drives were shipped by Amazon to me a couple days ago. There was only bubble wrap and the hard drives were stacked one on another in a box obviously too big.

Dead Hard Drives 01Dead Hard Drives 02

Then, the next thing you can do to protect your HD when installing it, is to clean your hands or wear gloves. No, I don’t have OCD! Cleaning your hands or wearing gloves will avoid transferring moisture and hand oil on the HD like that there won’t be any greasy spot that will create a hot spot when your HD will run. The same advice is given when you change the headlights on your car or when you change a lightbulb in your house.

Before any in-depth test and analysis, the first thing you wanna check after receiving your hard drive and before disassembling your computer tower or NAS to install them is to try them in an external case, this will save you time and spare you from doing unnecessary work. The first sign of a dead hard drive out of the box is the noise it’s making when you start it. If like in the video, your hard drive is making the same noise I bet it was broken during its shipment.

Finally, once your drive is installed in your computer or in an external case give it a full format. As explained in Quick Format vs. Full Format in Windows a full format will ensure that every single sector of the HD is written and is not corrupted. Then when the HD is fully formatted, you need to check the S.M.A.R.T data. S.M.A.R.T data reports the health of your HD and you can see if your HD is in good shape or not. If you HD suffered damage during shipping, it’s here that you’ll be able to see it. Compare the values to your other drives and to the threshold values. Some values may vary from HD to HD and some may not be very important but here are the ones you need to check: Failed Reads, Reallocated Sectors, Bad Sectors, and RUE (“Reported Uncorrectable Errors).

Last thing to keep in mind, Hard Drives are one of the most fragile components of your computer or of your NAS so handle it very carefully. Also, S.M.A.R.T is helpful to detect HD that are showing some weakness but it won’t tell you “your HD will day in 200h, 23min and 12sec”, so don’t forget to make backups on a regular schedule to avoid any data loss.

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