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Someone told me that torrent programs keep reading and writing to HDD for long periods and that will slow down the HDD and may cause damage to it.

Is that true?

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My answer from applies equally well here. – Daniel Andersson May 31 '12 at 11:42
Short answer, No. Most of the reads and writes are so small they are cached by the hard drive buffer memory. – Moab May 31 '12 at 20:19
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The hard disks (even SDD) have mechanical parts or are subject to wearing. The more you use your hard disk from a user perspective, the more you use the hard disk physical parts. So using a bittorrent client is using your disk. But you don't say your are damaging your car engine because your are driving it, so you don't damage your hard disk either.

The traditional rotational hard disk have different health parameters (that you can monitor via SMART). The main one that you can monitor are:

  • Load cycle count: laptop hard disk have a much higher rate than desktop ones due to the more likelihood that they will enter energy save mode.
  • Power-on hours: hard disk have a "life expectency" expressed in power-on hours. Much like human life expectency some die young while others die older, it is an average value. So by leaving your hard disk on, you are consuming it's life time.
  • Reallocated Sector Count: When a sector gets faulty, HDD drives to avoid them after. They "move" the data (when they can still read the data thanks to error correction algorithm) somewhere else). I've a really old drive which has an increasing rate of this parameter, so I know one day it will fails, but it is still working!
  • the list is far for complete, but that should give you a good start.

Those 2 first health parameters can increase by just having your computer turned on with no service running! When a disk is close to breakdown, some other parameters should be monitored. Those are mainly related to fault in reading or writing to the disk. Check the SMART article on Wikipedia.

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SSDs have no mechanical parts. They are subject to wear though. – devius May 31 '12 at 11:17
@devius that's why I said mechanical parts or are subjects to wearing. :) – Huygens May 31 '12 at 11:23
@devius - SSD are not "subject" to wear they a design limitation in that you can only write data to a certain cell X number of times. This limit is slowly being increased. – Ramhound May 31 '12 at 11:32
@Ramhound my English is perhaps not good enough to understand the subtle differences of meaning between "subject to wear" and "design limitation" in this context. But anyway what I was saying was that rotational HDD have mechanical parts and SDD have potential issues with writes wearing. – Huygens May 31 '12 at 11:44
+1 for "your are damaging your car engine because your are driving it" Very clever example ^_^ – Wahid Bitar May 31 '12 at 11:56

It's true, but senseless.

It's similar to this kind of argument: "By driving your car to the grocery store, you risk getting into an accident that could destroy your car."

Yes, it's true. But what's the point of having a car if you're so afraid of damaging it that you don't even use it for normal activities that you want to do?

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True. It's like a CD-ROM; if you work it 24x7, it's going to reduce the lifespan, mostly damage its motor. So the trick is to only download one file at a time, and don't seed. So it's likely to total UP DOWN only 1. For your information, I use green HDD, which I've already bought four times.

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This does not really answer the question. I am not sure the difference between 3 files or 1 files when it comes to writing data – Ramhound Mar 18 '14 at 2:43

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