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How long do you think my external hard drives will last

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#1 bigbrown411


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Posted 02 December 2013 - 10:38 PM

I have 4 1tb external hard drives and 1 320gb external hard drive. 1 of the 4 1tb external hard drives I've had for a little over a year. The other 3 I bought December 2012, but didn't activate them (or even unbox them) until August 2013. The 320gb I've had since May 2011. All these hard drives work fine. No problems what-so-ever. They're all Seagate products by the way. I use my hard drives 2-3 times a year, from 1 hour to 24+ hours depending on how much I need to transfer. After that, I put them in my cases and leave them in a dressor drawer until the next time I use them. How long do you think they will last if I keep using my hard drives this way? I usually use my flash drives for data transfer. I once purchased a 1gb flash drive back in 2007. I use that until it died in 2013. I worked that flash drive like crazy. Do you think it's possible for my hard drives to last this long? Also, are there any serious differences between external hard drives and flash drives, or is it just size and convience?

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#2 GreenGiant117


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Posted 03 December 2013 - 02:25 PM

Theoretically they should last 3-500 years total...


Now realistically... with no movement of them while on, careful handling, no excessive full on time (on and transfering weeks at a time), and isolated from power spikes and such... you can assume that they will last at least a year...




What I am saying is basically there is no good way to tell you, I have many externals, some are a couple years old some only a year, I have friends who have had some die in about a year, and I still have an old old 160 from 2006 that still runs perfectly.


Flash drives have no moving parts, so theoretically as long as you dont bend the tip, it should last basically forever, Hard drives have spinning platters that are electrically sharged and discharged in areas to store the data (oversimplifying) moving parts=more chance of failure BUT there are still hard drives from the 80's that still work just as well as the day they were made.


What sometimes happens as the drives age is that you will notice interruptions in transfers, slow transfers, or other odd problems, once you see this, backup everything and move to another one. There are times that the drives just fail though so dont bank on symptoms arising before death.


What I would recommend is use the one you use most often as you use it now, then once a week, or once a month (depending how often you move things around) and copy the whole contents to another drive that only gets hooked up once a week/month, this should prolong the life and provide you with a back up if the first dies. Then if the first dies the second becomes the primary drive and a new one is used as the once a week/month one. Will you lose data? most likely a little bit yea, will it save you from worrying and stressing and save you money? most likely.

#3 Kilroy


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Posted 03 December 2013 - 02:37 PM

The big difference between USB Flash drives and external hard drives is moving parts vs no moving parts and limited writes vs unlimited writes.


Personal opinion is that flash drives are good for temporary storage but I wouldn't trust them for long term, only copy storage.


Hard drives, treated well, will normally last three to five years.  It may last longer than five years, but don't count on it.


Here is a great story on hard drive life span.  These are drives that are run 24/7 and probably under great power and cooling conditions.



If you buy a hard drive today, there’s a 90% chance that it will survive for three years. If your drive makes it to the three-year point, you would be wise to back up your data, as there’s a 12% chance per year that your drive will die. It’s worth noting that these figures are for internal hard drives


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