Question How often should I replace back up hard drives ?

hw_user

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Mar 11, 2010
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When I Search internet, people are saying that life span of a hard drive is about 3 to 5 years. I assumed that is for hard drives that are used continuously or at least powered up and running 7/24. I am using my computer only a few hours a day and my hard drives are more than 7 or 8 years old and still running. Should I start to consider to replace them ?
I also have USB drives being used for back up. Once they are filled, they are just sitting on the shelf. Will the data disappear on me ? Should I just copy the data between hard drives once every 2, 3 years so that they are read and re-written to ensure no data lost ? But is copying between old hard drives ( exceed 3 to 5 years old) worth it ? or should I copy the data to new hard drives every 3 to 5 years.
I know one best answer to it is if the data is important, the best is to copy to new hard drives every few years. I am hoping that some one out there can share their experience.
 

Lutfij

Titan
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Once they are filled, they are just sitting on the shelf. Will the data disappear on me ?
No.

The thumb rule is have a backup of your critical data. If your backup drives are disconnected from the system once all the necessary data are copied over, you're good for life(so to speak) but no they won't get wiped like vapor/mist.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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Basic backup strategy: 3 - 2 - 1

3 copies, on at least 2 different media, at least one offsite or otherwise protected.

They won't all fail at once.
Writing your data to a drive and then putting it on the shelf for X years is false security. You don't know it has failed until it is too late.

They should be checked, refreshed regularly.
Then, if you see some anomaly, you can replace.

And flash drives are a poor backup method.
 

Lafong

Respectable
people are saying that life span of a hard drive is about 3 to 5 years..................Should I start to consider to replace them ?
Even is "3 to 5" is correct, it's not very useful........because a substantial number of drives do not fall within that range.

Should you replace them?

Absolutely....if you had a good reason to think the existing drives were near the end of life and that the new drives had at least an "average" life span. But how could you know that?
 

hw_user

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Mar 11, 2010
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Once they are filled, they are just sitting on the shelf. Will the data disappear on me ?
No.

The thumb rule is have a backup of your critical data. If your backup drives are disconnected from the system once all the necessary data are copied over, you're good for life(so to speak) but no they won't get wiped like vapor/mist.
I think data written to hard disk plates are magnetic and can get weaken over the years. Sorry I may still be stuck at the floppy disk era. If my memory was still right, there were some recommendation at the time to backup data on optical disks (DVD) which can last up to 100 years
 

Lafong

Respectable
I think data written to hard disk plates are magnetic and can get weaken over the years. Sorry I may still be stuck at the floppy disk era. If my memory was still right, there were some recommendation at the time to backup data on optical disks (DVD) which can last up to 100 years
"Bit Rot" generates 371,000 hits on Google just a minute ago.

Didn't look at even one of them, but I'd guess that opinions vary widely and that few opinions are subject to change.....like a lot of things about PCs.
 

USAFRet

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Mar 16, 2013
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I think data written to hard disk plates are magnetic and can get weaken over the years. Sorry I may still be stuck at the floppy disk era. If my memory was still right, there were some recommendation at the time to backup data on optical disks (DVD) which can last up to 100 years
Expensive M disks, yes, a theoretical 100 year retention.

But I would not trust ANY device to simply sit on the shelf for years, and then assume it will 'just work'.
 

Pextaxmx

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Jun 15, 2020
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The dyes in cave paintings have survived 40,000 years in hostile environments. However, I doubt very much that the dyes in recordable DVDs would last 100 years.
If those cavemen etched micro zeros and ones to those cave dyes, I am sure the data is unrecoverable by now. Keeping so many zeros and ones in proper order without losing a bit is certainly a big challenge.
 

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