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Good afternoon all,

I was wondering should external hard disks be put flat on the table when we are transfering data to prevent possible physical damage to the inner components of the disk,

Or is it true that while the hard disk is running, turning it round and round and round (shaking it?) will not make it easier to spoil?

PS: talking about in the long run of course.

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Don't shake a device with moving parts in it. –  Oliver Salzburg May 11 '12 at 12:21
    
@Pacerier - Shaking a mechanical HDD while its running can damage the drive. Most portable mechanical HDD has some sort of feature to prevent this. Depends what exactly you mean by shaking it. –  Ramhound May 11 '12 at 12:26
    
@Ramhound I mean shaking it as fast as I can with my hands of course, but it doesn't bang (crash) anything. –  Pacerier May 11 '12 at 12:42

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Hard disks are, for what it matters to this question, made of plates spinning and a magnetic reading head, that moves to read the disk. This head is fixed in a moving arm and it's positioned very close to the disk.

If you shake the HD, the head might touch it's surface. So, it'll cause damage. In the long run, it'll make it worse, as the micro- and mini- and regular- damages will acumulate.

So, never shake a running HD.

Some images and information can be found here and here

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If I do not shake it, but position it weirdly (upside-down, slanted, standing, standing on 1 leg i.e. standing + slanted) while doing data transfer, does it increase the chance of physical damage? –  Pacerier May 11 '12 at 12:44
    
@Pacerier: In general, no, it should not matter how you position the HDD as long as you don't move it while it's in operation. –  MBraedley May 11 '12 at 13:10

Yes. Excessive vibration, shaking, shock, and impacts can damage the hard drive. At the very least you can bounce the read head against the surface of the platen inside the drive and physically damage the surface.

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