How long will data storage media last?

If you want to store your data for a longer period of time it is important to ensure that it remains accessible and stored secure. But what do you choose for data storage as a storage medium?

One of the most important points of good data archive management is that the information is stored in a sustainable way. Tapes and floppy disks were once a good storage method for organisations who needed a lot of capacity. However it now appears that magnetic media such as floppy disks are not very robust and break down over time. Below an overview of the most common data storage options and its life expectancy.

Optical media

CD-ROMs, DVDs and blue-ray DVDs are often used for backup solutions. They are relatively cheap and easy to use. However tests in the past have shown that optical media is not very reliable. According to research most DVDs only last 2 to 5 years. They are also known to be liable to damage such as scratches which can cause data loss.

USB Sticks

Using a USB stick for data storage or backup your data will be saved for about ten years. The life expectancy of a USB stick can be measured by the number of writing or erasing cycles. USB sticks can write or erase between 10,000 and 100,000 times. This is dependant on the storage technology used. When the limit of the USB stick storage capacity is reached part of the memory can no longer function properly which can lead to data loss and possibly corruption. USB sticks with a low quality storage technology can last much shorter than 10 years. A USB stick can store a large amount of data and is very mobile due to its small size.

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How long will data storage media last?

Conventional hard drive (HDD)

A traditional hard drive works on the basis of magnetism. The disc is a glass plate with a magnetic coating that is protected by the housing. A hard drive has two weak links, it contains moving parts and prolonged heat encourages wear. Due to these weak links the HDD can become (partly) corrupted with a possible loss of data or computer issues. The average life span of a HDD is between three to five years depending on the quality of the parts.

Solid state hard drive (SSD)

More and more computers and laptops are using Solid State Drives (SSD). Because SSDs operate without any moving parts they are much less liable to failure of the drive. They also operate much faster than a conventional hard drive. However an SSD needs continuous access to power in order not to lose their data. The speed at which data is lost depends on the temperature. For every 5 degrees temperature rise in the environment of the SSD, the data retention period is halved. An SSD that is stored at a temperature of 25 degrees can hold the data for two years. At 30 degrees the storage period is only one year. This can be a problem especially for organisations for example if the data needs to be kept for legal purposes.

Cloud storage

Nowadays it is very common to store part or all of the data of an organisation in the cloud. There is a variety of cloud services on offer such as Microsoft Azure Cloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud and Google Drive. This is a safe and secure way to store your data. These cloud storage solutions are often very secure and you do not have to worry about looking after expensive local storage solutions.

However you do need to ask certain questions to guarantee the long term storage of your data. What happens to your data when the service is canceled due to bankruptcy or for another reason? You will need to make sure how these possible issues are arranged in the contract with your cloud provider. You need to be aware of what guarantees and conditions are included in your contract or S.L.A.

Normally you will have a part of your data stored in the cloud and some data will be stored locally.

Tech-Wales back-up and archive solutions

At Tech-Wales we are experts in setting up and maintaining excellent back-up and archive solutions. Our friendly staff will set you up with an excellent and reliable back-up solution tailor made for your business. If you think your data or documents are lost we also provide excellent data recovery solutions. Feel free to contact us today to start keeping your valuable documents and data safe.