Nowadays, there’s something out there for everyone when it comes to storage. Some can store massive amounts of data, some can fit into your pocket, and some are fast. But are they reliable? We should know that DVDs and CDs can easily fail, and that’s why they’re going out. But is your hard drive, solid state drive, or SD card safe? Can they store your data indefinitely, or will they fail? In this article, we’ll give you all the answers.

Hard Drives

You should know that if you delete something off your hard drive, it’s not gone for good. Many people will collect old hard drives and show how much data they can get off them to make a point. If you don’t securely delete your data, people may be able to recover it. Even then, recovery isn’t impossible. Only destroying the hard drive can delete it for good.

However, your hard drive shouldn’t be looked at as a permanent way to archive. The hard drive is composed of plenty of moving parts. Moving arms, spinning disks, and so many other parts. With time, those parts may break down, destroying your hard drive.

One way these hard drives can fail is due to head crashes, where the storage devices 03head of the hard drive scrapes the disk. All it takes is a power outage or surge, or a physical blow to it to do this. Your hard drive will most likely fail because of a head crash. If not, it can begin degrading.
According to a 2013 study by BackBlaze, a cloud storage organization, five percent out of 25,000 hard drives fail by the first year and a half. These are mostly defects, however. Most are stable, but by the fourth year, they have an 11.8 percent chance of failing. Three-fourths of hard drives will last four years or more.

Of course, this is mostly due to excessive use. If you copy your data to it and then store it, unused, your data will last for years. Just keep it away from magnetic sources, as they do store data magnetically.

However, the magnetism can decline over time, but you can fix it by turning on the hard drive and write the data. Do this every other year if you want a reliable way to store something for years to come.

Solid State Drives

Solid State Drives, or SSDs, are a new way to store. They don’t use those moving parts, and are more like USB drives. They are more expensive than hard disk drives and offer less storage, but they can make your computer much faster. To store, they use flash chips, and don’t need any disk or head.

In other words, the SSD isn’t going to go through a head crash, so if you shock or hit it, it’s not going to wipe the drive. Also, magnetism doesn’t affect an SSD.

But what you should remember is that SSDs have similar parts to hard disk drives, and they may fail over time. Also, if there’s a power failure, it may lead to the failure of the drive, or cause data corruption. Also, since SSDs are new, there still haven’t been any huge studies that have revealed how long they’ll last. So don’t use it for permanent storage until you know how long they’ll last.

When it comes to repeated use, the memory blocks in an SSD has a certain amount of write cycles to it. In other words, if you store data on it a certain amount of times, it may die. The cycles are typically a couple thousand. While this seems low, it’s nothing bad. Hard drives write their data to the closest free block, but SSDs will use each block before beginning the cycle again.

To put this into normal terms, you should be fine unless you’re writing chunks of data to your SSD for years. You won’t reach its limit, and if you did, you could still read it, but you couldn’t overwrite it, so your data wouldn’t be deleted.

SSDs are a great way to store if you prefer performance to storage, and it may not be good for long-term storage. The length of how long your SSD can store data without being powered can depend on a lot of factors. Many can last up to ten years, but some might fail in only a few months. Look at the manufacturers, as they will list how you can store your data.

Flash Drives

Flash drives, thumb drives, USB drives, jump drives. They go by so many names, but you know them as the convenient way to store. Just put it into a USB, write it to the drive, and then put it in your pocket. They have many problems as an SSD, such as a certain amount of write cycles. They are also cheaply made compared to SSDs, so they may be less reliable.

You probably won’t reach your write limit, however. If you use the flash drive to move files to different locations, then you have to worry about physical damage more. Also, you can put your data at risk if you don’t eject it before you remove it from the USB slot, so don’t pull it out unejected.

However, if you use it as an archiver, it’s not that great. While some drive makers claim that you can store data for nearly a century if it’s in the right environment, it is probably lower than that. Data retention depends on the memory blocks’ health. If you buy the drive, back it up, and then store, it can last for years. However, if you use it a lot, don’t use it for storage.

Overall

So what you should remember in this article is that storage drives are not perfect. While it can hold data for years under the right conditions, you should check it to make sure constantly. One thing you should do is to copy it off the drive and onto it again. You should also make sure that you use more than one way to store data. Rotate your storage methods and make sure you have it backed on many devices, and you should keep your data for good.