Alexander: How long will a backup drive keep working?

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 20, 2013 - 5:03 PM

Q: How long should a backup drive be expected to last? Mine is four years old. I haven’t had any problems, but I would hate to lose all my good work.

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davehougAug. 21, 1312:04 PM

NOTHING beats paper for long-term storage (OK stone and clay cuniform tablets) for centuries of storage with certain retrieval :)

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duck2013Aug. 21, 1312:22 PM

An external hard drive that is used infrequently and no kept plugged in (so a possible virus cannot destroy the data) should last years. A Google study of the lifespan of 100,000 hard drives found no correlation between length of service, heat, or any other factor and failure. Every hard drive will fail. But when they fail is unpredictable. You can read complaints from buyers of brand new computers that their hard drive failed within weeks and you can find comments from others who have used their computers 40 hours a week for 5 years that their original hard drive is still going strong. External hard drives are cheap nowadays. I recently picked up a portable (runs off USB power and requires no wall outlet) Seagate 1 TB hard drive for $69.99 plus tax at Best Buy. Buy a secondary hard drive and use that to backup your primary backup hard drive for redundancy. Also, a program like QuickPar is very handy at creating recovery blocks so that if any of your data is corrupted--up to whatever percentage you create recovery blocks for--you can recover it. I use QuickPar for creating recovery blocks for critical data I backup to a mechanical external drive and to a Flash drive (I have 3 copies of the data including the hard drive). QuickPar has worked to recover corrupted data off of CD-R backups I made years earlier. By the way, when your hard drive starts clicking it has already failed. It may work, but you are likely to have damage to your disk and some data will be unable to be recovered. Turning the hard drive upside down and using a Linux based data recovery program that extracts data off the drive in reverse (so it won't fail on an error) can be used but is not guaranteed to recover what you want.

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eddie71Aug. 26, 13 9:26 AM

I think the period of hard drives is through, with the introduction of cloud services, there is almost no one left without a software of their preference and use. Mine is Zoolz with its recent unlimited plan, its inexpensive and has been serving me well.

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