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flat assembler > Heap > Durability of flash drives (USB drives and SD cards)

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axlucas



Joined: 02 May 2014
Posts: 66
Location: Argentina
Durability of flash drives (USB drives and SD cards)
I've been looking this up and I always find the answer to a question that's similar to mine, but not the same.

Yes, I want to know how long I can expect a flash drive to remain reliable, but not while using it all the time. Quite the contrary. I want to use a flash drive for back up, writing it once and storing it untouched for years.

I wonder:
- If I do I describe, how long can I expect these drives to keep working when I finally read them again
- If reading operations are beneficial, damaging or none of those to the drives (I know that writing operations shorten the lifespan of these drives)

What is your experience, guys, with this? So far, all SD cards and USB drives I have are still operational (except perhaps one I lost). One of the SD cards is very old and has received heavy use including many writings. It has become much slower, although it still does work.
Post 13 Oct 2017, 19:52
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Tomasz Grysztar
Assembly Artist


Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 6633
Location: Kraków, Poland
I'm sure there are some serious reliability tests that you could look up somewhere, but if you ask just for a personal experience, I have a 32 MB flash drive that I have been using since 2004, just for some backups, therefore I've been using it very rarely and most of the time it just lies in a silent corner of a drawer. What I have stored on this drive back in 2005 (I have no older files there) still reads perfectly.
Post 13 Oct 2017, 20:05
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2124
Location: Usono (aka, USA)
Assume the worst. Assume everything will break eventually, without notice. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Post 14 Oct 2017, 22:31
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Tomasz Grysztar
Assembly Artist


Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 6633
Location: Kraków, Poland

rugxulo wrote:
Assume the worst. Assume everything will break eventually, without notice. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

I assumed the worst, that everything is going to break and nothing may remain. The more I thought the more I realized that everything I make is going to wither away and none of my creations are as important as I allowed myself to believe. I dropped the tools in silence and returned to my family to live a calmer, happier life.
Post 15 Oct 2017, 02:54
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revolution
When all else fails, read the source


Joined: 24 Aug 2004
Posts: 15241
Location: 1I/ʻOumuamua
I just keep upgrading my backups with new hardware periodically. The major problem with any hardware is that it can fail at any moment. And there is no way to predict when it will fail, or how it will fail. It might fail with just a single bit flipping over, or might fail with the entire device releasing the "magic smoke".

As for any specific type of device, like a flash drive, the reliability varies widely depending upon the brand, age, usage, environment, etc. And as for any single drive, well anything could happen; it might last for another few decades, or another few seconds.
Post 15 Oct 2017, 10:55
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Furs



Joined: 04 Mar 2016
Posts: 868
This sounds better than a "device" for long term archival: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-DISC

But of course, periodically update the data. That's the beauty with digital.

Things may wither away, but data doesn't have to, since it can be copied to fresh "things" and retain itself bit by bit identically (unlike lossy copies in analog).
Post 15 Oct 2017, 12:39
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