Hard drives, like other electronic devices, have temperature thresholds that they need to run in. Manufacturers like Western Digital or Seagate inform their customers about those thresholds.
But how can the customers make sure that the temperature does not jump over those limits? And what are the possible consequences if a drive operates outside of the temperature threshold?
A hard drive's spec sheet usually displays information about the operating and non-operating temperatures. Most manufacturers set the operating temperature threshold at 5° Celsius to 55° Celsius. Others may have a slightly different threshold going up to 60° Celsius.
Note: Solid State Drives do not heat up which means that their temperature reading will always be 0.
A lot of things can happen if a hard drive reaches non-operating temperatures. This ranges from data corruption and data loss to crashes and even hardware failures.
While it is not likely that most computer users will ever experience that their hard drives reach critical temperatures, it can happen if they work in environments with unusually low or high temperatures. Other reasons can be bad or no cooling, or other hardware close to the hard drive that is emitting lots of heat.
How can you check a hard drive's temperature level? Most modern hard drives support a technology called SMART, which stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. Programs can read and display SMART data.
One of my favorite programs for the job is Speedfan, a lightweight program that reads the majority of PC sensors just fine and displays them in its interface so that you can check up on them.
Speedfan scans the hardware for sensors and displays its findings directly in the main interface.
The hard drives are listed on the right side. Normal, falling and critical temperatures are all indicated with icons which makes identification easier. You can alternatively click on the SMART tab, select one of the hard drives available and look at the SMART values for additional information. Very interesting in this regard is the temperature reading, as it lists the worst temperature the hard drive has ever reached on the system.
You can use the value to find out if the selected hard drive ever reached critical temperature levels on your computer.
If it did, you may want to start thinking about proper backup of data and replacement.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.