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Thread: USB Flash Drive Storage Life ?

  1. #1

    USB Flash Drive Storage Life ?

    Hi,

    Would appreciate your advice on this.

    Getting on in years now, and not too sharp with this anymore.

    I have always kept a copy of "important" stuff on a Floppy in our safe
    deposit box. Just text WORD documents..

    Have finally come to realize that this probably isn't the greatest idea,
    anymore.

    Is it true that Floppies are really a totally dead item now; I see that PC's
    don't even come with them anymore, but I guess they are available as USB
    ported add-ons. They sure are handy and convenient, but I have to admit
    these flash drives look kind of nifty, also. I guess I'm really dating
    myself.

    Questions:

    a. For long term storage of test items like this, would you recommend
    forgetting doing anything (anymore) on a Floppy and just going to a USB
    flash drive perhaps ? Are USB Flash Drives relatively proven for long term
    storage ?
    Is the life perhaps limited by the fragility of the USB connector ?
    Some designed better than others ?

    b. There are a multitude of USB flash drives, apparently, available.
    Which brand(s) would you recommend ?
    Are there different types ?

    c. Or, perhaps, onto a DVD ?

    d. Which do technologists feel has longer safety long term re durability,
    degredation, etc.; a USB Flash Drive or a DVD ? [or a Floppy, still ?]

    Any thoughts on this would be most appreciated.

    Thanks,
    B.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    Good quality flash drives are expected to have data retention for 10 years:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_flash_drive

    Of course assuming we will be using USB to connect stuff 10 years from now..

  3. #3
    I'm still using 360K 5'25" floppies, as of 2009. 20 years old by now and still going strong!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    CT
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    1,852
    I think DVD's have a really long life span, after all, they are plastic, they either melt or get scratched. if you get into magnetic storage (like Floppies, Hard drives, and flash drives) you have more of a chance of storage failure because magnets are everywhere. I think an external hard drive is safer then a flash drive because usually the case goes before the drive, and it's a simple yank from the case to the new enclosure.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    13,429
    Almost all current PCs have USB ports.
    USB flash drives have no moving parts, and obviously hold more data, also have fast read/write times.
    The data is pretty much protected, placing a thumb drive on a loudspeaker with large magnets does not erase the flash drive data but it may erase a floppy.
    Last edited by PrntRhd; 08-17-2009 at 10:45 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    N of the S of Ireland
    Posts
    20,504
    My mantra regarding irreplacable important data is to always keep more than one backup copy in different locations. And then also to refresh the backups on a timescale commensurate with the media they are stored on since all media (or their intrinsic file systems) will degrade given long enough. That includes optical media such as DVDs when used to store data (as opposed to music/video which can tolerate a few bad sectors without being noticeable).

    Solid state media such as flash memory is as good or better than most. Another approach is to use on-line or other network storage if the quantities of data fit in with whatever networking capabilities are at your disposal.

    On broadband (for example) copying 1.4MB as an attachment to an email to one's own Gmail (or other webmail) account would probably be as quick as copying it directly to a floppy diskette. The big servers holding such email data would be themselves automatically backed-up though I would myself feel uneasy to rely on on-line storage as the only way to do such things if only because one cannot guarantee to always be able to get on-line.

    PS Forgot to answer the specifics:

    Is the life perhaps limited by the fragility of the USB connector ?
    Some designed better than others ?

    b. There are a multitude of USB flash drives, apparently, available.
    Which brand(s) would you recommend ?
    Are there different types ?
    Any physical medium, be it a disk or a drive, can be damaged and thus fail to work. Any of the big names should be fine for a USB Flash memory drive. I personally have had no problems with Kingston products; others will have their own favourites.

    e.g. The equivalent of 10,000 floppies on a Kingston DataTraveler 100 16GB USB Flash Drive. Of course there are other sizes available. Yet another approach is to use the same sort of media but in Memory Cards and then use them in card readers, cameras, iPods and such like.
    Last edited by Paul Komski; 08-17-2009 at 11:12 PM.
    Take nice care of yourselves - Paul - ♪ -
    Help to start using BiNG. Some stuff about Boot CDs & Data Recovery Basics & Back-up using Knoppix.

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