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Roughly what amount of physical jarring is enough to damage a hard disk (like crashing the head onto the platter)?

Yes, it's subjective, and all drives are rated differently, but I'm not looking for the precise number of newtons to do the trick. Rather, some general metric, like "Dropping a spinning drive flat on its face from 6+ inches is, on the average, likely to do platter damage."

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closed as too broad by Tog, Mokubai, Simon Sheehan, Scott, random Oct 23 '13 at 4:45

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Propose a metric or unit for "enough" or "delicately". Go on, I dare you. In reality, you could run an experiment based on force in newtons/meter or some such. Results would vary widely by manufacturer. Asking this about all hard drives is completely pointless. –  jamesson Oct 20 '13 at 18:42
Depends on the brand and the drive. Different drives have different properties by design, and this effects how resilient they are to movement or drops. –  AthomSfere Oct 20 '13 at 18:58
Easy @jamesson, I didn't mean to dishonour your grandmother, or anything. Of course it's difficult to define some objective standard, hence why I asked "roughly". So instead of shaking your fists in a "daringly" confrontational way, how about trying to relate some generally-common metric, like "Dropping a spinning drive flat on its face from 6 inches or higher would likely do platter damage." –  Coldblackice Oct 20 '13 at 19:10
The specifications for Western Digital Black 4 TB SATA Hard Drive (WD4003FZEX) say: Operating Shock (Read): 30G, 2 ms and Non-operating Shock: 300G, 2 ms. –  Cristian Ciupitu Oct 20 '13 at 19:48
I'm not trying to be a jerk, but this is a fairly self-evident engineering idea, that one shouldnt make global statements about things designed by different (groups of) people. –  jamesson Oct 20 '13 at 20:32

1 Answer 1

Depends what you drop it on. On a hard surface it is quite easy to exceed a fairly absurd number of Gs with even a small drop, since the stopping distance is fairly short, and G-force resolves (roughly) to (falling distance) / (stopping distance). On a hard surface like granite or concete, stopping distance will be considerably less than a millimeter, which means that a drop of 30mm (1-1/4 inches) will exceed 30Gs (a handy number from Cristian C) - if, in fact, it's less than a 10th of a millimeter (granite and concrete being rather hard) it could exceed 300Gs (thanks again, CC.)

Now, if you drop it on a mattress or a mousepad, you get very different G numbers, since the stop is much less abrupt, with some cushioning.

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I wonder if a smartphone with an accelerometer can be used to measure those Gs. –  Cristian Ciupitu Oct 21 '13 at 7:44

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