Exposed hard drives are delicate and precise instruments. Components are mass-produced and not meant to last; they are built to never leave their casing. Unless of course, they need a data recovery service.

Most importantly, you should never move a spinning drive. Any shock to the drive, even a slight bump whilst spinning, is highly likely to lead to some sort of head crash. Head crashes vary in severity - S.M.A.R.T. technology allows a hard drive to recover from a minor head crash, at the expense of some of its lifespan.

On the underside of hard drives is the circuitry which is prone to damage, especially from dirty fingers and ESD. The connectors or circuitry should never be touched, and you should always handle the drive by the side chassis. You should earth yourself by touching a radiator before touching a naked hard drive.

Hard drives are best stored in an anti-static bag or shell to minimise ESD damage. Whilst there is some doubt as to the effectiveness, it does keep the hard drive secure and ensures dirty fingers do not touch the circuitry. If your hard drive has failed anyway, don’t worry too much about anti-static packaging. Ideally don’t pack your hard drive in loose packaging material. This generates dust and debris which can easily penetrate the breather hole. Hard drive boxes with foam inserts are the best but simple bubble wrap will also suffice. Lastly avoid pressure on the hard drive. Do not force cables, stack hard drives or press on the chassis.

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