Mobile phones damage hard drives?

  Templar1961 09:42 12 Jul 2003

Mobile phones damage hard drives?

Is this a myth or is it true? Can anyone explain how or provide any evidence of this?

Do mobiles affect computers in ANY way?

  -pops- 10:07 12 Jul 2003

Do you know how mobile phones are reputed to do this?

  Valvegrid 10:59 12 Jul 2003

I don't think the HDD could get corrupted directly, because they are pretty much screened. What could happen is the electro-magnetic field from the phone could disrupt the cpu which send corrupt data to the HDD, especially if you've got the sides off the case. There is enough evidence now to prove it can disrupt medical equipment which contains cpu's and I've seen it for myself.

click here


  jazzypop 12:30 12 Jul 2003

Have you seen the full report that you linked to? Does it detail exactly what / how any 'damage' was called by cell-phones?

It seems ironic to me that 'less than 0.1%' of 178 medical devices were adversely affected by cellphones (surely that is a lot less than 1 device?). Signs are up everywhere at my local hospitals, constantly reminding visitors to turn off their cellphones.

Meanwhile, security and maintenance engineers constantly walk around with hand-held radios (which had a serious effect on about 17% of the equipment).

  barrie_g 12:43 12 Jul 2003

I would tend to agree with jazzypop, the likelyhood of mobile phones causing damage to any part of a home pc would be slim going from the report.

"The type of radio handset made a large difference to the likelihood of interference.

41% of medical devices suffered interference from emergency radio handsets at a distance of 1m, with 49% of the responses being serious (category 1).

35% of medical devices suffered interference from security radio handsets at a distance of 1m, with 49% of the responses being serious (category 1).

By comparison only 4% of devices suffered interference from cellphones at a distance of 1m, with less than 0.1% showing serious effects. There were no marked differences between analogue and digital cellphones."

Though the amount of interference from emergency and security radios is quite alarming.

  The Sack 12:46 12 Jul 2003

a mobile can wipe a floppy with ease so i dare say it could corrupt a hard drive if you sat it on top of it and it rang.

  Chegs ® 13:22 12 Jul 2003

I used to be a taxi-driver,if I placed my mobile anywhere near the meter,it would give erroneous readings.If my mobile phone is anywhere near my puter,I get strange errors on the pc.I tend to switch-off my phone in the house as I don't want to find out the expensive way that the phone is doing more than corrupt data.

  Valvegrid 13:42 12 Jul 2003

Yes I have seen the report because it's my job.

Yes the percentage of equipment effected is small, but two examples, both happened in our hospital and elsewhere: 1) A ventilator ceased operating when a mobile phone rang next to it, lucky it was the service engineer's phone because the the ventilator was being serviced and not on a patient. 2) A syringe pump had it's settings changed due to a mobile phone being activated close to it, lucky again the drug being infused was low risk so no adverse effects to the patient.

No damage to the equipment resulted, but the end effect was serious.

Both the items of equipment are high risk and the outcome could have been very different. Would you like to take that risk if the equipment was used on you?

One of the reasons mobile phones are requested to be turned off, is that mobile phones 'poll' every so often, so the base station knows what units it has in each of it's cells, so a call need not be received for the phone to transmit.

The handheld radios used by porters and other hospital staff are covered by hospital policy which involves training the staff in the correct use and awareness of where they can and cannot use the radios, this also includes the external services like Fire and Police.

Sorry Templar1961 we have gone off thread a little, I think the real point I was making was if data is corrupted while being written to the HDD due to electro-magnetic interference from any source, this could have a detrimental effect on the systems operation.

I won't reply any further on this subject here because it's not computer related as such and it's not fair to discuss this on this type of forum. If you want to discuss this further you're more than welcome to email me.



  Stuartli 14:44 12 Jul 2003

I've been in Heathrow's British Airways domestic shuttle flights business lounge area on many an occasion in the mid 1990s when the flights' seatings arrangement computer system has gone down.

In virtually every case the reason was due to someone in the vicinity using a mobile phone.

Even my local vet prohibits mobile phones being brought into the surgery's consulting room, where there is a computer system, unless the phones are switched off.

Presumably all have learned from experience, yet I quite often use my Philips Savvy use whilst at my system; the reason, of course, is that I have 56k dialup.....

  jazzypop 14:56 12 Jul 2003

Yes, I am aware that it is your job - that is why I was curious about the contents of the full report.

I was trying to express genuine interest / curiosity. My comments related to the summary of the report posted in the link you provided, which indicated to me an insignificant problem with cellphones (compared to other, more common sources of EMI).

You *seem* to have taken umbrage at my comments, and interpreted them as dismissive of the risk - that was not my intention, although I see how you could have taken that view.

I also have a professional interest in whether radios / phones etc can affect medical and other safety-critical equipment (I am a senior fire officer, and have both H&S and procurement responsibilities, as well as 3 major hospitals that I need to pre-plan for a wide range of incidents, from people trapped in lifts to a fire, from chemical release / Hazmat incidents to terrorist attacks. Oh yes, and I have to take command at those incidents).

It seems a shame that you do not want to continue the dabte in the Forum - personally, I feel that the issue of interference from cellphone and other communications devices could be of interest to many members of the Forum.

But then again, maybe not....

  Valvegrid 15:31 12 Jul 2003

It's not really that I took umbrage, I just took umrage in hijacking Templar1961 thread like we've done, probably my fault for posting that link to the MHRA. I just wanted to highlight the problems of EMI on cpu driven equipment, medical equipment being a prime example.

If you want some strong views on this subject you want to speak the other guys and dolls on this site:

click here

You'll get some very interesting opinions and anecdotal evidence of EMI problems.

I don't think the FE likes debates, only help with a specific computer problem, that's the other reason I didn't want to come back.

Look what you've made me do now, I've broken my word and come back :-)

Couldn't resist it could I?

We've obviously got some common ground between us, but maybe better off forum instead.

Kind regards


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