It might sound like a strange one but this might prove to be quite an important finding. ABC has reported that loud noises can kill computer hard drives!

Even just shouting at a spinning hard drive can drop its performance. Whilst this may seem like an unimportant issue as the effects are clearly minimal given that a loud office isn’t an uncommon occurrence and we’ve yet to hear of businesses collapsing because of it, it does lead to an interesting conundrum for those with thousands of hard drives.

Many businesses who have data stores of that size have a fire safety protocol where the oxygen is removed. This can be as loud as an aeroplane taking off right next to you! There have been documented failures in Australia, France and Romania, when the noise of fire suppression systems killed hard drives in the data centres of big banks.

Just shouting at a spinning hard drive can very significantly drop its performance. The modern spinning hard drive has amazing micro-engineering inside. It’s built at the scale of nanometers.

A hard drive has a spinning disc which is covered with a very thin layer of material that can be repeatedly magnetised and demagnetised. A tiny magnetic head sweeps across the spinning disc reading/writing data. It hovers above a disc that is spinning at up to 15,000 RPM at a height of some four nanometres. If the magnetic head were to actually touch the spinning disc at that speed, it would cause immediate failure of the hard drive.

It turns out that because of the microscopic tolerances inside the modern spinning hard drive, loud noises can stop them operating and even cause permanent failure due to internal components vibrating.

Around 110 decibels, about as loud as a petrol-driven chain saw at one metre, will degrade the performance of most hard drives. Sounds louder than 130 dB, similar to a trumpet blast at half-a-metre, will stop a hard drive from delivering data.

If you were ever in a position where you could shout at 110 dbs at a hard drive… then you’re probably having a really bad day. But just in case, the next time your computer lets you down – don’t shout!

If you have computers or hard drives that need to be responsibly disposed of then call us on 0161 777 1000. We always aim to re-use, but where we need to recycle, we offer an innovative and unique solution that complies with WEEE and boosts social inclusion.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.