View Full Version : Hard drives and earthquakes

February 28th, 2008, 09:26 PM
What is the probability of hard drive problems (head crashes) during various severity earthquakes? Have there been any studies about this?

February 28th, 2008, 09:30 PM
Not necessary, Laptops get bashed around more than eathquake damage on a daily basis. I would be more concerned about floods, fire, lightning, and terrorist attacks, then I would be more concerned about saving my own skin than a laptop ...

February 28th, 2008, 09:37 PM
unless half a building falls on it that is..... :D:D

February 28th, 2008, 09:55 PM
are you planning on being in an earthquake? where do you live?

my dad lives 3 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake the other day, he ran out the house with no clothes on loool

February 28th, 2008, 10:05 PM
What is the probability of hard drive problems (head crashes) during various severity earthquakes? Have there been any studies about this?

Low, I would think.

It is not good to move hard drives when they are running, but it happens all the time with no apparent damage.

I can't foresee an earth quake that is able to damage a hard drive, but not cause severe structural damage to the building it is in.

February 28th, 2008, 10:33 PM
The events which can physically damage drives are measured in g (acceleration), g/s (change of acceleration over time) and Hz (frequency). A single sharp rap or vigorously shaking a drive while it is running might provoke a head crash or damage some bearings or even the airtight case.

I do not have the specs of a typical disk drive with me. However, it is immediately evident that dropping a disk drive (usually in an enclosure or a laptop) from some height onto a table or even the floor will generate a much higher acceleration than any quake is likely to do.

The frequencies involved in an earthquake are a bit more difficult to estimate. However, given that the head assemblies are very short and very light, they must have rather high proper frequencies, much higher than anything likely to be produced by moving masonry.

Hence, the quaking of the earth during an earthquake appears to be very unlikely to adversely affect a disk drive.

Dropping the disk drive or dumping furniture or buildings on it, setting it to fire or submerging it in bodies of water are much more likely causes for damage.

I would think that operating a PC while in a car, a train or on a ship might be much more dangerous for its disk drive. Ships are notorious for shaking apart the goods they transport on account of the throbbing of their mighty diesel engines.

February 28th, 2008, 10:45 PM
I don't think a quake is going to do any damage to a hard drive.

February 28th, 2008, 11:37 PM
When hard drives get moved a touch too much


February 29th, 2008, 01:14 AM
Mine was fine during the 'quake the other day :) It's a laptop drive for what it's worth

February 29th, 2008, 01:17 AM
From the data below I would not worry about earthquakes unless the house falls or burns down on it.

WD CaviarŽ SE16

Environmental Specifications
Operating Shock (Read) 65G, 2 ms
Non-operating Shock 350G, 2 ms
Idle Mode 28 dBA (average)
Seek Mode 0 33 dBA (average)
Seek Mode 3 29 dBA (average)
Temperature (English)
Operating 32° F to 140° F
Non-operating -40° F to 149° F
Temperature (Metric)
Operating -0° C to 60° C
Non-operating -40° C to 65° C
Operating 5-95% RH non-condensing
Non-operating 5-95% RH non-condensing
Altitude (English)
Operating -1,000 feet to 10,000 feet
Non-operating -1,000 feet to 40,000 feet
Altitude (Metric)
Operating -305M to 3,050M
Non-operating -305M to 12,200M
Linear 20-300 Hz, 0.75 G (0 to peak)
Random 7-500 Hz (0.00221 g˛ / Hz)
Low Frequency 10-300 Hz, 0.195 inches (double amplitude)
High Frequency 300-500 Hz, 5.0G (0 to peak)

February 29th, 2008, 07:16 AM
When are you planning on having an earthquake? Probably the best thing would be to move the computer to another location ...