Question USB Flash Drive/Electronics Gadgets Shelf Life?

very_452001

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Does Electronics/Computer Hardware have a shelf life or expiry date like food?

Are electronics/gadgets sensitive to weather seasons? Like for example cold weather where condensation forms on windows or Hot weathers with no rain causing lots of dust.

Most Electronics/gadgets are in plastic housing like a GPU with the fancy plastic housing it has around it or any computer equipment on the market. to buy

I heard Intel and AMD, when they mass produce chips/CPU's they do it in a dust free zone/uncontaminated free zone where the workers must wear like hazmat suits before going into manufacturing facility to stop the risk of contamination.

Are gadgets/hardware in metal housing like a ssd drive in a metal like housing a good thing for stronger protection against falls or a bad thing like getting rusted or risk of static electric damage cause its metal housing?

Lets say I bought a popular USB flash drive from Amazon and stored my valuable memory photos on there so I just used this drive once basically out of the box. Then I put this usb drive on a table in a room for 25 years. I live in a country with 4 seasons that is Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter. In lets say 25 years time I get this USB off the table and plugged it into my computer then will the USB work to see my photos that I put on there 25 years ago?

If not then what kind of USB storage will I need to last long term for decades?
 

USAFRet

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If not then what kind of USB storage will I need to last long term for decades?
I wouldn't trust ANY storage device like that.

A single copy of the data, written once, then stored away for decades.
Wrong way to do it.

Multiple copies, on multiple device types.

You also have to factor in what device would that USB stick connect to in 25 years.
 
Does Electronics/Computer Hardware have a shelf life or expiry date like food?
Yes.

Are electronics/gadgets sensitive to weather seasons? Like for example cold weather where condensation forms on windows or Hot weathers with no rain causing lots of dust.
Yes.

Are gadgets/hardware in metal housing like a ssd drive in a metal like housing a good thing for stronger protection against falls or a bad thing like getting rusted or risk of static electric damage cause its metal housing?
Only in certain situations, like 2 USB drives dropped from a 10-story building. One with plastic housing and one with metal.

Lets say I bought a popular USB flash drive from Amazon and stored my valuable memory photos on there so I just used this drive once basically out of the box. Then I put this usb drive on a table in a room for 25 years. I live in a country with 4 seasons that is Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter. In lets say 25 years time I get this USB off the table and plugged it into my computer then will the USB work to see my photos that I put on there 25 years ago?
If not then what kind of USB storage will I need to last long term for decades?
None.
For 25 years of nonuse you need specific storage medium meant for archival storage. USB drives won't work. SSDs are also out. HDDs should retain data for 5-10 years but their internal parts will probably be frozen after sitting unused for 5.

Archival grade DVD-R discs are designed to last 25+ years as are M-Discs. Of course, you also have to take into account the system you will use to retrieve the data 25 years from now. Much of it may be hard to find. Also, as @USAFRet said, if the data is that important, always have multiple copies that are tested to be functional, periodically. This is the safest route.
 

very_452001

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I wouldn't trust ANY storage device like that.

A single copy of the data, written once, then stored away for decades.
Wrong way to do it.

Multiple copies, on multiple device types.

You also have to factor in what device would that USB stick connect to in 25 years.
There could be a retro adaptor or some sort that will allow a usb connection to a future interface right?

But if your advice is multiple copies on multiple device types then wont the electronics perish in all of those devices after decades anyway?

Otherwise which storage solution whether its cold storage offline or online decentralized storage is the most reliable to store data for decades?

Google drive can still be around in 20 years however Google is centralized service growing in political power and they can block your account whenever they feel like it so I don't want to take that risk. For example google can restrict your access to your google drive if you say anything bad about them like google selling its customers data. These are examples.
 
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very_452001

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Yes.


Yes.


Only in certain situations, like 2 USB drives dropped from a 10-story building. One with plastic housing and one with metal.


None.
For 25 years of nonuse you need specific storage medium meant for archival storage. USB drives won't work. SSDs are also out. HDDs should retain data for 5-10 years but their internal parts will probably be frozen after sitting unused for 5.

Archival grade DVD-R discs are designed to last 25+ years as are M-Discs. Of course, you also have to take into account the system you will use to retrieve the data 25 years from now. Much of it may be hard to find. Also, as @USAFRet said, if the data is that important, always have multiple copies that are tested to be functional, periodically. This is the safest route.
Okay so a traditional HHD with moving parts has a higher life expectancy than a SSD or Flash drive that has no moving parts? I thought SSD's and Flash drives with no moving parts lasts longer. So its like a car engine where if the car engine is used regularly it will run for 100,000s of miles compared to a car engine that is not used that much will have engine problems soon correct and can seize up? But SSD drives and flash drives have no moving parts, I don't understand 😕

It begets the following questions:

- All new PC hardware sitting on store shelves must be sold by a certain date otherwise they are destined to be recycled/thrown away? Lets say I found a brand new usb flash drive that hasn't been sold for the past 15 years gathering dust on the store shelf but still box sealed then will it work?

- All those retro gamer youtubers still showcasing their PlayStation 1's, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo's consoles along with their game cartridges and Game Discs that came out decades ago - how is it still working now then? I doubt they open up their consoles annually and dust them so they still keep the original warranty void seal intact for future appreciative value you know what I mean.

- Which is better overall between Archival Grade DVD-R discs and M-Discs? Also can a normal DVD Multi Recorder drive write on these discs? Lastly these discs made out of plastic so wont plastic degrade over time or fade or get brittle meaning if I choose this disc method then which is the best way to store these plastic discs long term?

- What about those military grade, bullet proof, thick rugged usb flash drives sold on Amazon where they claim if you drop it in the sea salt water it will still work. Can these last for decades if you don't use them regularly?

- Can you buy Archival grade hard drives or flash drives or does it has to be optical storage?

In summary, correct me if I'm wrong, a electronic device whether its your phone or laptop or tablet or even your gaming PC will last longer if used regularly in compared to nearly new hardly used for a long time electronics?
 
Okay so a traditional HHD with moving parts has a higher life expectancy than a SSD or Flash drive that has no moving parts? I thought SSD's and Flash drives with no moving parts lasts longer. So its like a car engine where if the car engine is used regularly it will run for 100,000s of miles compared to a car engine that is not used that much will have engine problems soon correct and can seize up? But SSD drives and flash drives have no moving parts, I don't understand 😕
The way SSDs store data is that it's essentially a very slow discharging capacitor, whereas data on a hard drive is stored on something that's been magnetized. Granted while magnets do lose their magnetism, it's much slower than an flash memory losing its charge. Though SSD data retention loss tends to be overblown.

- All new PC hardware sitting on store shelves must be sold by a certain date otherwise they are destined to be recycled/thrown away? Lets say I found a brand new usb flash drive that hasn't been sold for the past 15 years gathering dust on the store shelf but still box sealed then will it work?
No, it'll work. It's just that any data on it may not be useful.

- All those retro gamer youtubers still showcasing their PlayStation 1's, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo's consoles along with their game cartridges and Game Discs that came out decades ago - how is it still working now then? I doubt they open up their consoles annually and dust them so they still keep the original warranty void seal intact for future appreciative value you know what I mean.
Those use ROM chips, in which the data is more or less physically burned into the chip. The things that do die on those are batteries in games that use battery-backed saves.

- Which is better overall between Archival Grade DVD-R discs and M-Discs? Also can a normal DVD Multi Recorder drive write on these discs? Lastly these discs made out of plastic so wont plastic degrade over time or fade or get brittle meaning if I choose this disc method then which is the best way to store these plastic discs long term?
I would argue your gut feeling the plastic will degrade over time being a problem is correct, considering M-Discs don't appear to be as durable as the manufacturer claims. However, it's also a question of how much of an analog accelerated aging tests are compared to being properly stored over the course of the supposed time period.

- What about those military grade, bullet proof, thick rugged usb flash drives sold on Amazon where they claim if you drop it in the sea salt water it will still work. Can these last for decades if you don't use them regularly?
They're not made for archival storage.

- Can you buy Archival grade hard drives or flash drives or does it has to be optical storage?
Flash memory is not suitable for archival (like 10+ years) period. I don't think "archival grade" has been applied to hard drives, but considering there are hard drives still working in old PCs after 30 years, I don't see why they can be used in such a setting (though I'm sure someone did a study already)

If you want to store stuff for a long time, buy media that's actually designed for it.

In summary, correct me if I'm wrong, a electronic device whether its your phone or laptop or tablet or even your gaming PC will last longer if used regularly in compared to nearly new hardly used for a long time electronics?
It depends. Electronics wear out in use due to electromigration. However there may be components that can degrade over time just sitting there and their degredation depends heavily on the storage environment. YouTuber LGR has booted up new-old stock IBM 5160s built in the mid 80s and they seem to run just fine. People have PCs in the past few years that they use as a daily driver and it fails.

But really, the definition of "failure" is vague. Average people tend to think a replacable part failing as the entire thing is broken.
 
No. I should've been more clear. The platters in the HDD have a longer non-powered data retention life. The moving parts inside the HDD - not so much. Data on unpowered SSD and USB drives could start to get corrupted in a year in extreme conditions. I wouldn't trust an unplugged SSD beyond that with important data (and I would always have a backup regardless). That brand-new flash drive from 15 years ago might work if you are able to wipe and format it fresh but any data on it from 15 years ago is most likely corrupted or completely gone.

Many of those console game disks are probably still running, sure. But what would you guess that percentage is? I would guess less than 2% of the total number produced. Also, many of these devices worked with static/permanent data. The issues come about when we get to programable/changeable/EEPROM memory.

You'll need to check compatibility for Archival discs. Although many are supposed to be usable in any DVD burner. Writing to M-Discs requires an M-Disc compatible burner.

Military grade USB drives are designed to withstand environmental and shock extremes, but the chips inside will still slowly lose their data over time - just like your garden variety $10 flash drive. Is it possible they use better chips for some? Yes. Would I ever bet my sensitive data on it? No.

I'm not sure about archival grade hard drives. You'll have to research that.

Also note that these numbers refer to averages and recommendations. I, myself, have several 5¼" floppy disks with an old Commodore 64 that is over 30 years old. Last time I checked many were corrupted but some still worked. No one can tell you EXACTLY how long a particular HDD, SSD, USB, floppy, etc. disk will last. All we can do is look at the average life expectancy and recommendations for archival data retention.
 
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In lets say 25 years time I get this USB off the table and plugged it into my computer then will the USB work to see my photos that I put on there 25 years ago?
I hadn't used a flash drive for three years, which contained important data. Last month I connected it to a PC, but some of the data was damaged. I had to restore them using special software. Therefore, I do not recommend storing important files on such media.
 
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I guess to poke at the OP proper:

Does Electronics/Computer Hardware have a shelf life or expiry date like food?
Practically no. People have used new old-stock items made decades ago and they run just fine. The only thing that may have degraded are things like rubber belts. But the electronics themselves are fine.

Are electronics/gadgets sensitive to weather seasons? Like for example cold weather where condensation forms on windows or Hot weathers with no rain causing lots of dust.
Condensation is only a problem if:
  • You use a cooler that can bring the temperature below the dew point, though generally speaking anything below the ambient temperature is not a good idea.
  • You bring the computer that's been powered off from a much colder environment to a much warmer environment with high relative humidity
If the computer is running, condensation is generally a non-issue because it's going to be warmer than its environment, and thus it'll never be at or below the dew point of the environment. Well, unless you do something like bring it from outside in the dead of winter in Antarctica to the relatively warm cozy buildings at some research site.

Hot weather may be a problem if the computer can't cool itself fast enough. Dust is also a problem because it acts like an insulator, preventing things from releasing their heat effectively.

Most Electronics/gadgets are in plastic housing like a GPU with the fancy plastic housing it has around it or any computer equipment on the market. to buy
The plastic is a special kind built with anti-static properties to prevent static build up and static discharges from damaging the device while in transit.

I heard Intel and AMD, when they mass produce chips/CPU's they do it in a dust free zone/uncontaminated free zone where the workers must wear like hazmat suits before going into manufacturing facility to stop the risk of contamination.
Because the things they work on are done on "just barely visible to the naked eye" to "downright smaller than most viruses" scale. You kinda don't want stray particles interfering with that sort of thing.

Are gadgets/hardware in metal housing like a ssd drive in a metal like housing a good thing for stronger protection against falls or a bad thing like getting rusted or risk of static electric damage cause its metal housing?
It's mostly just physical protection and static discharge protection (the housing is likely connected to the ground plane so any static you discharge on it dumps to ground)

Rust isn't a problem because most pins and contacts in electronics are made out of metals or alloys with high corrosion resistance. For instance, a lot of chip package pins are made out of Invar, which has high corrosion resistance. Other times the contacts may be gold plated and gold is basically non-reactive to most things the average person will encounter.

As a measure of evidence, I used a computer for years that was in a place with hot, humid summers and was within a mile of the ocean. The only corrosion that happened was on the case and even then, it was just surface rust.

Lets say I bought a popular USB flash drive from Amazon and stored my valuable memory photos on there so I just used this drive once basically out of the box. Then I put this usb drive on a table in a room for 25 years. I live in a country with 4 seasons that is Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter. In lets say 25 years time I get this USB off the table and plugged it into my computer then will the USB work to see my photos that I put on there 25 years ago?
This has been answered, but to reinforce it, the drive itself may work, but the data may have gotten corrupted because of bit rot.

If not then what kind of USB storage will I need to last long term for decades?
If you plan on not touching the media, then you need an archival grade media. However, the thing with archival grade media is that they're designed to work within their rated environment conditions. So you can't just burn stuff to say an archival grade DVD, chuck it bare on a window sill exposed to the elements, and expect it to last.

The other problem of course is you need something to read the data. If this is what your primary concern is, then buy another, compatible drive, don't open it up, and store it with your media until you're ready to access it.

Or you could just have someone else take care of it by chucking it to a cloud backup service. If you're worried about people snooping on your data, a lot of cloud backup services offer client-side encryption so the servers don't even know what they're getting. Otherwise, you could always throw it on an encrypted ZIP file before sending it.
 

very_452001

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In summary the only Archival grade available is optical blank discs? If so does my disc drive SH-224DB support such discs?

Can Veracrypt do a encrypted zip file before uploading it to google drive?

What are the best alternatives to google drive that is backed by good customer reviews and will still be around in 10 years time? Or is there like a Decentralized services for this?
 

USAFRet

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In summary the only Archival grade available is optical blank discs? If so does my disc drive SH-224DB support such discs?

Can Veracrypt do a encrypted zip file before uploading it to google drive?

What are the best alternatives to google drive that is backed by good customer reviews and will still be around in 10 years time? Or is there like a Decentralized services for this?
No online service is guaranteed to be around in 10 years, or under the same terms and conditions as they are today.

Several online backup solutions have changed their plans over the years.
Was free, now $XX/month.
Or gone away completely.

Google is probably a safe bet.
 

very_452001

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No online service is guaranteed to be around in 10 years, or under the same terms and conditions as they are today.

Several online backup solutions have changed their plans over the years.
Was free, now $XX/month.
Or gone away completely.

Google is probably a safe bet.
Okay apart from Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, is there any other safe bet alternative companies/services to rely on in a decade time that don't misuse/spy on customers data or I'm just stuck with these big tech Giants only?

If I were to choose offline cold storage then just to confirm only Archival grade optical blank discs are the best long term storage solution?
 

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I have to take a bit different tack than some of the above posters based on actual personal experience.

I have several 2GB USB flash drives that I use variously for work and play. I honestly cannot recall when I got them, but solidly over 10 years or more ago. One of them I use for holding downloads from various fire panel programming. I have carried this in my pocket for YEARS, have washed (and dried) it multiple times, it's bent now, missing it's dust cover....and every single file on it is still fine. As a side note to that I have a credit card size USB I got at a trade show 4-5 years ago. I carry it in my wallet every day, and it's fine....

On the converse side of that coin, I purchased a set of colored USB sticks made by SanDisk a few years ago and about half of them have failed already. That first set aren't branded, but I recall them being a good brand and expensive, even at the time.

To the point, I think that utilizing a flash drive that you plug in and verify perhaps twice a year, in addition to additional backup formats, should be fine for a long time to come.

Funny enough, I am old enough to recall when writable CD and DVD came out and we were told they would "last forever". Then in use we find out that not only do poorly made ones oxidize, and suffer from bit rot, but that even the good ones have an easy to damage data layer.
I still keep archives of some things I don't want to lose on CD, as well as other formats. If this is something that you REALLY need to keep, as the above posters have pointed out, spread it around to various method.
 

very_452001

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Another $64,000 question that needs asking:

Where do these big Tech Giants such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple store all of their consumers/customers Zettabytes of Data? I Know Servers but what kind of drives in these servers?

These giant tech Corporations harvest consumer/customer data to evolve their Ai systems and evolving their Ai systems is a very long term thing that can take decades so begs the question where do these tech giants archive all that Zettabytes of their customers data? I doubt they use 1000's of M-Discs to store all of it. So they must be using something else that can last decades right and what is that?
 

USAFRet

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Okay apart from Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, is there any other safe bet alternative companies/services to rely on in a decade time that don't misuse/spy on customers data or I'm just stuck with these big tech Giants only?

If I were to choose offline cold storage then just to confirm only Archival grade optical blank discs are the best long term storage solution?
Carbonite, Acronis, Crashplan, Backblaze, many others.

One of the major ones, I think it was Crashplan, changed their whole thing a couple years ago.
They used to have a Free tier..."Hey, we're doing away with the Free, so if you want to continue with us, you gotta pay. If not, download your stuff now."

Companies and policies change.

I wouldn't trust any single device or company to never change, or still be available in XX years.
 

USAFRet

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Where do these big Tech Giants such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple store all of their consumers/customers Zettabytes of Data? I Know Servers but what kind of drives in these servers?
A whole crapload of hard drives. Replicated, and dying drives replaced as needed.

Backblaze, for instance, uses regular consumer grade hard drives for the most part.
You can read their drive death and replacement info here:
https://www.backblaze.com/b2/hard-drive-test-data.html
 

very_452001

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A whole crapload of hard drives. Replicated, and dying drives replaced as needed.

Backblaze, for instance, uses regular consumer grade hard drives for the most part.
You can read their drive death and replacement info here:
https://www.backblaze.com/b2/hard-drive-test-data.html
What are the differences between Consumer grade hard drives & Commercial grade hard drives apart from the size? Commercial ones last longer/better made?
 

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