Shelf life of data on HDs

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How does the average failure rate of data on hard disks that are
stored off the computer compare with 1) HD's that are kept powered
up/spinning 2) Burned CDs ? I am asking since have several of the
older (5400rpm, 20-40GB) HDs around that I wouldn't mind using as long
term backups. I would imagine the main problem would be to get them
spinning again, and if so, how often should I put them back in a
system? Thanks.

Re: Shelf life of data on HDs

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i work on a lot of *old* computers...
i typically pick up machines that have been sitting in a closet for 5 or 10
and have found that the harddrives are generally in working condition...
however, there is always the possibility that the drive will be seized up
from just sitting.
a few of them, i've opened up and gently rocked the arm and got them going
just to see if i could do it.

although in theory the drive should last for a long time...who knows 25
years or more...
i'd power them up at least once a year to be sure they don't lock up.

with today's large drives i can see that it would be cheaper and easier to
backup large amounts of data to a harddrive rather than DVD's...i guess if
the data was really important you could always
copy it to another drive every five years that time the list price of
a 300 gig drive should
be $20 :)

Re: Shelf life of data on HDs

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If the data is valuable then there's no way in the world I'd rely on an HDD
sitting in the cupboard to keep the data, not because the platters would
loose the data but because the drive might not spin up again if its left
like that for to long. Also the drive would be very susceptible to damage
from being bumped and jarred (even when its not spinning). The best bet
would be to sell the old drives second hand and use the money to buy a Dual
Layer capable DVD Burner and some media. The other option, which is allot
more expensive, is a tape drive and tapes. These are available in capacities
which will hold all of the latest HDD capacities but those units over 200 GB
are VERY expensive - as are suitable tapes. Personally, I'd go with the DVD
backups as storage of the media is easy and its cheap too.


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