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-   -   HDD platter data life span? (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/storage/57721-hdd-platter-data-life-span.html)

upcoast604 November 6, 2012 08:39 AM

HDD platter data life span?
I have mutiple hdds holding duplicate data of other hdds.

What I'm trying to find out is if an hdd platter degrades over time, if I take an hdd out of the comp, stick it in an anti static bag then leave it in a drawer, then in 20-30 yrs take it out of the drawer plug it into a comp providing it spins up and sata still exists , will the data be in tact as it was at the time of storing it or does it degrade some how?

enaberif November 6, 2012 08:48 AM

Nobody really knows. I have hard drives from 10yrs ago that still work.

MacJunky November 6, 2012 11:04 AM

There are drives from 20 and 30 years ago that still work... but many have failed.

Your best bet IMO is to also store a copy or two of this data on tape. That way you might have a better chance with two sets of HDDs and also have one or two sets of tapes(with a couple drives, or a couple autoloaders also stored)


Carve it into stone tablets! or punch cards :D

NyteOwl November 6, 2012 11:59 AM


Originally Posted by MacJunky (Post 668955)
Carve it into stone tablets! or punch cards :D

I have a couple of boxes of those still (punch cards). Make great notepaper, geeky bookmarks etc :)

BeaverBender November 6, 2012 12:17 PM

I've spoken to both Western Digital and Seagate about this very issue in the past and they each told me that the rated "shelf-life" for the platters in their drives is only seven years. Tape companies like Fuji, Quantum, HP, etc. have told me that their tapes are rated for up to 30 years! Now, the ironic part about these two statements is that in real-world testing for some of the banks, we found that tapes were starting to degrade after only a few years, and that hard drives were perfectly fine after a decade or more. So, it would seem that hdd manufacturers are very conservative in their estimates whereas tape companies seem to be highly optimistic. I guess that somewhat makes sense since the primary use of tapes is for archival purposes, so of course the manufacturers are going to try to make it look as rosy as possible. All this to say that I agree with Enaberif when he says that nobody really knows.

NyteOwl November 6, 2012 01:50 PM

I have some one HDD from 1987 still in use (a Seagate) and an assortment of Segate, Maxtor, WD from 1991 on and all are functioning fine and some that have been sitting on shelves still boot into their original OSes (DOS/WFW, OS/2, Coherent, etc). I Also have some QIC-80 format tapes dating back to 1991. Some are perfect, one or two have degraded and would need reformatting. It's very much a matter of the quality of the production run at the time. Sadly, older devices seem to have greater longevity but I suspect that's a matter of companies not wanting to build to last so they can sell more rather than an aspect of today's technology.

Perineum November 6, 2012 06:04 PM


Originally Posted by NyteOwl (Post 668996)
Sadly, older devices seem to have greater longevity but I suspect that's a matter of companies not wanting to build to last so they can sell more rather than an aspect of today's technology.

It could be that but I'm hoping it's rather that the newer devices fail quicker due to 1000x the storage in the same size....

bliz November 6, 2012 06:07 PM

I'd say..15 years...

Jake_HT November 6, 2012 06:35 PM

If it's sitting unused it should be fine for I'd say 20 years, maybe more. We have a 4GB western digital drive from 1996 and it still works.. That's 16 years and it was used for about half of that. So an unused drive should last longer. Either way I wouldn't risk it with important data for that long.

I'd say the drive mechanically should last several decades if you don't use it, the question is if the data will be intact.

I'll check back in 30 years, keep us updated :thumb:

frontier204 November 6, 2012 08:28 PM

That's really hard to say, because data isn't stored on modern drives the same way they were on old drives, making the old drive data useless. Who knows... that PMR tech that they use in the platters these days may enhance or shorten lifespan of data. I suppose there could be simulation tests or some artificial tests out there, but I haven't seen one yet (and haven't been looking).

I don't know what kind of records you're trying to maintain in a time capsule, but if it's personal data I'd just copy it over to newer and newer media as it becomes available. My backups started on 640MB CDs and I went up to 2x 1.5 TB hard drives (I'll buy more when the drives get full). Just make sure to verify the stuff copied properly, as my biggest source of "degradation" is something not copying properly (e.g. Windows decides to enforce filesystem privileges when you don't want to) or me forgetting to copy it :doh:

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