Do Hard Drives Wear Out Over Time without Use?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Starfyre, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. Starfyre macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
    If I store data onto a hard drive like an Apple Time Machine, then one day leave it on a shelf for 15+ years (not plugged into anything), is there a risk that by then the hard drive degrades even without being plugged into any machine and without use? Does the same apply to SSDs/Flash Memory? If both apply, what is a better storage medium for long term storage without any use?
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It should still work. You could always plug it in every year or two to make sure.
  3. iMarvin macrumors 6502


    Sep 29, 2011
    On the internet!
    Hard drives will degrade, like anything else. But there is specifications for storage that will keep degradation to a minimum, what they are i don't know. It probably says on the box. :)
  4. scott.n macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2010
    Besides degradation, you would also need to consider changes to interface standards and file systems.

    Consider an HFS-formatted SCSI disk that you might have archived in 1997. The correct adapters are very difficult to find, and even if you could find them you'd only have read-only access in 10.6 or later.
  5. applerepairs macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2011
    Fulham, London
    Yes Hard drives would degrade over a period of time...
  6. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    Everything degrades in time - it's called Entropy.
    That said, it depends over what period of time and how far degraded. CDs written 30 years ago can be degraded by now and refuse to play. Vinyl from the 1930s, however, still plays fine.
    This used to be a hot topic in the IT centres of old - how often to re-spool a magtape to ensure viability. Nothing beat paper tape for an archive except that the information packing density was very poor !
    Photos degrade - that's why pros from 40 years ago used to make colour separations of the ones that they wanted to preserve rather than keep photos.
  7. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    It really depends on the cd used!
  8. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    My experience is that even commercially released CDs are unplayable after 30 years (not all, but all the failures have been old CDs - notably EMI)
  9. rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    Hard drives use magnetism store it's content, so yeah it could lose its strength. I don't think the mechanical parts of it would degrade since its not being used.
  10. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    My personal preference is to keep all data "Live". By that, I keep it on a computer that is getting actively backed up. For "most" people... the advancements in storage capacity increases at a faster rate than data collection.

    By keeping the data "live"... I know that it is being backed up to multiple destinations, and furthermore... as I replace my computers on a regular basis, the data is regeneration onto the new computer... and then re-backed up multiple times.


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