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The HDD of my Early 2011 MBP broke, and I'm considering if it's because of the heavy workload I put it through by installing, deleting, downloading, copying and erasing files, over and over. I thought about it, and logically it would make sense that this would eventually wear down a HDD, but since I'm not an expert, I was wondering if I was right in this assumption, or if I was just unlucky with my HDD?

Also, I'm using my new computer now, and I'm worried the same might happen to it eventually, if I don't take preventative measures early on.

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Everything eventually wears out, it's just a matter of time and a fact of life. Since it's an unknown as to explicitly why your HDD failed it can only be said that normal/excessive usage leads to normal/excessive wear and tear which does contribute to the eventual failure. The only thing you can do about it is to ensure that you always maintain proper and current backups so in the event it fails you do not loose important files.

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Short answer, yes….
The more you use it the more wear it takes.

That, however, is not the whole story - otherwise the solution to making it last forever would be simply to never use it.
Keep it as a museum piece…

As this would be a somewhat counter-productive use for your shiny new computer, the more practical option would be to ensure you have a good backup strategy - for the time it does go wrong…
...because it will eventually go wrong, even if it takes 2 years or 20 years in practice.

Time Machine for 'in house' backups & something like Backblaze or Crashplan, or at minimum, iCloud, for off-site backups.

As the adage goes, "Any data not stored in at least three distinct locations ought to be considered temporary"

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Yes excessive use can wear down an HDD but you probably won't using it excessively. Excessive would be if you were writing, deleting, and editing tens of gigabytes a day. Perhaps tens of gigabytes a day.

I don't know about the particular HDD brand and model in your 2011 MBP but a spontaneous 5% failure rate per year for HDDs isn't uncommon (spontaneous meaning the thing is just on and spinning). If your model had a failure rate like that it only had an 80% chance to last for at least four years. In other words, it failing before the fifth year is expected 20% of the time. (It failure exactly in the fourth year has a likelihood of ~4% if my napkin calculation is correct.)

  • If you are going to use words with more than one syllable, I recommend you know what they mean first. You don't sound smart by using them, you sound silly when using them wrong. You don't need to cite common or easily accessible knowledge. For example, I don't need to cite that a HDD can take gigabytes of writes and reads a day. You can look in any modern HDDs or SDDs warranty for its lifetime rating for expected writes (ex. Crucial's MX100's is 64GB/day/3year). – Lan Mar 18 '15 at 17:58

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