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By Phil Dotree Published May 08, 2007

As hard drives have grown in size and improve in performance, they've become a commonplace form of
storage for computer users' valuable files and sentimental data, from personal pictures to vital company documents. But as more and more data is stored on hard drives, the issue of hard drive failure is becoming more and more serious--and it may be seasonal.

Ben Carmitchel, president of ESS Data Recovery, claims that hard drives may have an unlikely adversary this Spring: air conditioners.

"On average we see a 20% increase in failed hard drives hitting our lab in the summer as in the winter," Carmitchel says. "We also see a seasonal change in the types of problems hard drives experience. In the warmer months, we diagnose far more electronic-related issues. From surveying some of our customers, we've found that power surges caused by air conditioners may play a significant role in the springtime increase."

Home cooling systems can increase the electricity usage in a house by 50%, and this additional strain can cause dangerous power surges and outages that damage computers. It's not just air conditioners that threaten data during the warmer months, either--a larger amount of thunderstorms and hot Summer weather can mean the end of hard drives and with them, computer users' valuable information.

To avoid data loss, follow these precautions during Spring and Summer months:

1. Keep your computer plugged into an un-interruptible power supply (UPS). With a UPS, you don't have to worry about brownouts and blackouts which are more likely during warmer months.

2. Turn off and unplug your computers during thunderstorms. There's point in risking working through a 15 minute spring storm when it could potentially cost days in lost productivity if a data recovery service is needed. Watch your local weather forecasts and pay attention to any warnings of storms or brown outs.

3. Make sure your computer has adequate ventilation. Hard drives can fail due to an excess amount of heat, but this can be avoided by simply removing items that may be blocking the ventilation, such as notebooks or other objects stacked on the top and sides of a computer. Check that your computer's fan is functioning properly, and take advantage of any system heat monitoring tools that your computer has.

4. Back up your data. "The only way to be completely prepared is to make sure that you've got a good backup of your important data," Carmitchel says. "That way, a failed hard drive is merely an inconvenience rather than a more serious issue."Data loss costs U.S. businesses at least $18 billion a year, and professional data recovery companies such as ESS Data Recovery, Ontrack, and Drivesavers often charge upwards of $1000 for their least expensive services.

Source: associatedcontent.com

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