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 Post subject: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:42 am 
Willamette
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What would you say the estimated life of a hard drive that is in storage (such as a safe deposit box at a bank) would be? Obviously, if it was in safe deposit box, it would be away from moisture and would pretty much be at around room temps (50-70 degrees F, non operating). Obviously, this drive would be used infrequently (maybe once every 6 months).

I want to back up my media server which has about 2 TB of data on it, so it's too much to burn even to Blu-Ray and to get an SSD would be out of the question due to expense which I can't justify (for what I"m using it for). So I'm thinking of just getting a 3TB bare internal drive and backing up the server that way, and then just putting the drive in the safe deposit box. I would obviously bring it out about every six months or so to update it with new content to be backed up, and to make sure the drive stays in running shape (I had a drive in storage for a few years without being used... it died shortly after being plugged in, so I've learned my lesson there).

(I actually asked this earlier but can't seem to pull up the post here...)


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:36 am 
Smithfield
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Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
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My ass pull guess is 10 years easy. You should check it around that time to see if it works.


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:22 pm 
Thunderbird
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I would guess 10 years too without any supporting data. But keep in mind you are effectively asking, "What is the shelf life of a hard drive?"

The good news is the magnetic coating and field strength is likely good for much longer than 10 years.

But there are lubed parts (armature pivot and drive axle (latter likely sealed)) that could dry out and in place. And there are capacitors on the drive's circuit board that could be electrolytic and dry/leak/outgas out. If the board uses all solid caps that would eliminate that cause of failure.

Using multiple drives of the same lot would help with circuit board breakdown as a working one could be swapped with a non-working drive.

After about ten years the interface compatibility with current technology would likely start to get problematic as support for SATA disappears. [try to find MFM/RLL interfaces now; and noticed fading IDE support] So you would likely want to pull the drives and transfer to whatever the contemporary storage medium was by ten years anyway.

Multiple storage media type redundancy might be wise (ie, M-Disk Blu-Ray).


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:32 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
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I wouldn't worry too much about SATA phasing out any time soon. Enterprises don't seem keen about transferring all data storage operations to SSDs. If anything though, at least stash it away with a prebuilt, small system or get a USB converter (as far as we know, USB isn't going to go anywhere). Hard drive caps are a non issue, they're SMT caps, or solid state. As far as the lubricant goes... I'm not too concerned about that either since for one thing, there are hard drives out there that have lasted 10+ years and I'm pretty sure they're well sealed anyways.

Either way, it would be a very good idea to check the hard drives once every few years. Or store data on optical disks.


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:24 pm 
Thunderbird
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I went looking for peer reviewed studies on this. The National Archives published such on optical media, and I was hoping they had the same for magnetic media (other than tape). No such luck yet.

I did find these two items:
http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comm ... _drive_if/

http://www.larryjordan.biz/hard-disk-warning/
Note this latter link makes an astounding (to me) claim with no way to counter it sine it is unreferenced.


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:25 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
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Well that seems kind of surprising.

I do know optical disks do have life spans better than those made in early 2000s, and you could always do flash drives. Just remember to power them up every few years because they start getting bit rot at 10 years.


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:29 am 
Thunderbird
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/in ... a-faq.html

Note: all pre-M-Disc FAQ

http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/faqs/optical.html

Sadly, while I can find equivocal for magnetic tape storage, I cannot find an equivocal FAQ for hard drive storage at the National Archives or NIST.

Here are some unreferenced docs:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/docu ... -media.pdf

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/docu ... a-care.pdf

I am looking in the Library of Congress right now but have to put it on hold for a few hours for time constraints. As you can see I find this topic of Hard Drive Shelf Longevity interesting.


Last edited by FascistNation on Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:59 pm 
Thunderbird
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Well the Library of Congress was a bust. Several publications on preserving digital dataincluding references to hard drive storage---none really discussing projected life expectancy of stored hard drive except to recommend transferring stored media to a new hard drive every 5 years (based upon mfg. warranty and fear of interface obsolescence).

I did run across a nice Wiki link on HDD failure and from it this interesting paper (PDF) on Latent Sector Error Analysis that I was unaware of.


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 Post subject: Re: estimated life of hard drive in storage?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 3:52 pm 
8086
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Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:09 pm
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I recently recovered data from a hard drive that had been well stored (defined as, no extremes of temperature or humidity) for about five years. The data was simple text files. All of it was fine. So the article that suggests a hard drive will degrade in a year isn't universally true. But I would still make an optical copy of the vital contents of a drive I was going to store for awhile.


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