High heat may not harm hard drives...

Temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit may not be damaging to disk drives, according to research by Google engineers.

Researchers have spent over five years monitoring statistics from Google's data centres and found no evidence to suggest any pattern linking high temperatures to hard drive failures. Negative effects were only felt at the higher end of the temperature range at 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Even at this temperature the statistics only effected hard drives that were older than three years. Often temperature is mistakenly regarded as the most important factor effecting the reliability of hard disk drives.

Nevertheless a hot hard drive could be symptomatic of a pending failure. Whilst the heat may not directly cause the data loss, it can certainly be indicative of a major catastrophe. For instance, friction in motor bearings especially the ball bearing spindle in older models and even the fluid dynamic bearings (FDB) in newer models will cause heat. The friction may well be a failure of the lubrication oil between the sleeve and actuator. When the bearings seize, this requires a full hard drive dis-assembly just to re lubricate the bearings!