Hard Drives Losing Data Without Power

Hard Drives Losing Data Without Power

A recently uncovered flaw in solid-state drives – shows these drives to be potentially vulnerable to data loss.

Solid-state drives lose data if left without power for just a few days

New research suggests that newer solid-state hard drives, which are faster and offer better performance, are vulnerable to an inherent flaw — they lose data when they’re left dormant in storage for periods of time where the temperature isn’t properly regulated.

The worrying factor is that the period of time can be weeks, months, but even in some circumstances — just a few days.

Solid-state drives are better than regular mechanical hard drives, which are slow and sluggish. But unless they’re battered around, smashed, or poured in acid, they pretty much last forever.

A recent presentation by hard drive maker Seagate’s Alvin Cox warned that the period of time data is retained on some solid-state drives is halved for every 9°F (or 5°C) rise in temperature where its stored.

That means if a solid-state drive is stored in a warm room, say 77°F (25°C), its data can last for about two years. But, if that goes up by a mere few degrees to 86°F (30°C), that data’s retention period will be cut in half…

But enterprise solid-state drives pose the biggest risk to data loss, because the retention period drops considerably.

A moderate increase of just 9°F (5°C) in temperature in a space where an enterprise solid-state drive is stored can drop a retention rate from 20 weeks to 10 weeks.

Solid-state drives lose data if left without power for just a few days | Zack Whittaker ZDNet May 9, 2015

Leaving unpowered SSDs in a warm room can kill your data fast | Jared Newman PC World

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29 thoughts on “Hard Drives Losing Data Without Power

  1. After reading the other comments, I have some more friendly observations.

    There's been a long term write test of consumer SSDs, and it turns out they last ten times longer than the manufacturers' write specifications. Crucial for example puts '72TB' as the write capacity of their drives, but they have said most consumers should see 10 times that capacity.

    If you want extra assurance, try the Samsung 850 Pro line of drives. Not much more expensive than the base level EVO drive – which is still a good drive.

    The last time I saw an SSD completely go blaap was about 3 or 4 years ago (2011) and it was the drive manufacturer that also makes CPUs and was thought top be the best consumer drive at the time.

    You can put 2 or 4 mSata SSDs on a PCI Express internal board, and get phenomenal speeds with RAID for not too much money.

    Hey I need to do this for a couple of my VMs!

  2. If you take your hard drive and put it in a jar of pickles and boil it on the stove, you are likely to lose data. Okay excerpt maybe those sealed helium drives.

    More FUD from the desperate hard drive manufacturers.

    1. If you take your SSDs out of a normal business environment and heat them up to crazy temperatures, you might lose data.

    Which no one is ever going to do.

    2. All drives of any type should be in a RAID 6 or RAID 10 array to help prevent hardware-caused data loss.

    3. All data should be backed up with at least two offsite full backup copies at two different locations.

    SSDs are going to make your web site so fast you will stop losing orders and your warehouses will empty and then your customers will hate you because you are out of stock.

    SSDs are going to make your database searches so fast you are going to get done before you start making a time loop which will cause Dr. Who and those vacuum cleaner aliens to show up which will disrupt your business.

    SSDs are going to make everyone get their work done so fast they will all sit around ordering pizzas, then get obese and drive your health insurance premiums up.

    SSDs are going to make all your employees smile so much that when the auditors next show up they will be sure something fishy is going on and turn in a bad report and your stock share price will tank.

    Better watch out for those dangerous SSDs!

  3. Does this mean that an SSD becomes something approaching archival if it kept in a freezer? In other words, does the data retention period double for every 9°F (5°C) the temperature drops below room temperature as it halves for similar size temperature rises above it?


  4. Maybe the best strategy is to put flash drives in an insulated box in the refrigerator accompanied by a cold pack and desiccant.

  5. On Saturday 05/16/2015 Iread an article in Dave’s Computer Tips relating to this scare. After further investigation it was found to be more of a scare tactic on the part of the author to get recognized. SSDD can last for years without power if they have not already already reached the end of their life cycle. Don’t panic yet…Alan

  6. RAID doesn't necessarily solve bit-rot.. and you have to ask yourself, if the RAID controller dies.. can i get another, and will the drives simply bolt onto its replacement, and data be readable, or do i have to re-initialize the RAID volume?

    If each of your 3 external drives each hold a complete backup , then you are in a good position.. take one to work/friends/relatives house and leave it there.. retrieve and swap it over with a refreshed backup from time to time..

  7. Garf In I have multiple backups on 3 external hard drives (WD) which are between 2 or 3 yrs. old at this point and haven't checked them in a while. Have thought about cloud storage but… don't trust it. Digital photography is great BUT….storage hasn't come anywhere near close to film negatives… if the negatives are stored properly. You're right. Images are lat risk between old and new technology… conundrum at best. Have some images on a 1 yr old desktop and several years worth backed up to a Toshiba 1T ext. drive, 2 yr old 3T WD ext. HD and a 3 yr old 2T WD ext. HD. Guess I'd best be checking them…… been a while. They work fine with Windows 8 although shudder to think. Best images have been uploaded to (paid) photo hosting sites. Thought about looking into RAID or similar storage but … dunno?

  8. Use a traditional harddrive and beware of 'bit rot'.. Refresh that backup a couple of times a year.. as HDD interfaces evolve , remember to review the HDD type you are using and ensure it still can connect to a new computer and restore its data. (eg. If you had to buy a new computer tomorrow, would the 5+ year old IDE HDD you have your backups on, connect ok to it still?)

  9. Rather focus on the positive aspects of the new technology and how to benefit from it. I have been using SSD’s and Hybrid SSD’s for over 4 years in various types of PC’s with excellent improvement in performance.

    Solid State Hard Drives were never meant to be used for back-ups and stored away for lengthy periods. The primary role of any Solid State Hard Drive is it’s use for installing the operating system to enhance the performance of a PC.

    Solid State Hard Drives do depend on power being stored in the hard drive to maintain the data that has been written to it.
    If large amounts of data backups need to be stored away – it is also NOT cost effective to use large size SSD’s.
    The only reason to use a large SSD to install an operating system – would be if the applications installed on that system require large installation and working environment. The data files they use can be stored on a normal secondary hard drive.
    If this type of system is required to be installed on a laptop – the model chosen should be one that accomodates TWO hard drives.

    SD Cards are generally fitted permanently and are only removed from devices to copy off data / pictures to another device or PC.

    External USB Drives are usually fitted with standard hard drives that hold the data on platters that have been written to magnetically.
    There is little to be gained by fitting SSD Hard Drives in external USB connected docking stations. If they are SATA2 (3G) or SATA3 (6G) as they can only transfer data at the USB interface speed.

    Docking stations that are connected via an eSATA cable – can provide the speed dictated by the eSATA port on the mother board. If they are used for storage they are usually connected permanently and not suffer data loss.

    Flash Drives are the devices that are generally used for storing away data, videos, photos, music etc and need to be regularly connected to recharge the power stored within them to retain data.
    If they are connected on a regular basis to update the files stored on them – it is unlikely that any data loss might occur.

    If a dealer is slack and does not move his stock of PC’s that have the OS pre-installed on SSD Hard Drives for a number of years – it may only need the system to be re-installed before delivery to a customer.

    • @Bilo_Cape Town:
      Agree with all you say. Just thought I would add that you can also remove your DVD drive & install a hard drive carriage in your laptop with a large conventional drive & install an SSD in the normal hard drive spot in the laptop if you don’t want to purchase a 2 hard drive one.

      • Great idea to revive an older laptop – BUT – many newer laptops no longer come with a DVD drive. Alternative storage comes in the use of large USB Flash or External drives. If your laptop has an eSATA port – that is the best option if you can find an external drive that connects with an eSATA cable.

  10. Like Darryl, I use my SSD purely for my OS, programs and my Recovery Drive. I turned off indexing on my C:drive because my Samsung Magician suggested I should but maybe even those writes wouldn't shorten its lifespan by much?

    I keep ALL my data on a standard HD and I backup it all up daily to 2 portable drives and my cloud storage facility.

    AND just in case my SSD suddenly fails, I kept the original HD on which my OS was installed! I've even made a flash drive for use after my demise, so that my next of kin can access and close all my accounts! So I think I've got recovering data and my OS fully covered with this lot!LOL

  11. The hidden danger is that the large amount of error correction used in SSDs means that without extra testing, your drive can be losing bits and seeming to work well (maybe slowly), right up to the point that the drive appears unusable. Gibson Research’s SpinRite (see grc.com) can test the drive by reading everything with error correction turned off, determine the correct data for each sector, and then refresh sectors with the correct data, writing only as necessary. It is also superb with conventional hard drives. I’ve used it for decades.

  12. To quote a very smart friend (again, as part of my earlier comment was from him): "For this, you have to look at the product specifications. Intel is pretty good about listing this, but other companies do not give out this information except under NDA.

    The specs for my Intel 320 drive:

    5 (years) x 365 (days) x 20 (GB of writes per day) = 36,500GB of guaranteed writes lifespan of the flash minimum.

    So if you use my example and say that the 5TB was exactly 365 days (to make the math easy): 5TB x 1024 = 5,120GB write quantity per year -> 36500GB/5120GB= 7+ years of minimum lifespan of the flash. My desktop is on 24×7, has pagefile turned on and has all user data going to the C: SSD. My drive is a good example showing that a modern (recent Gen or last Gen) SSD should last many years."

    I've heard nothing concrete to indicate that running the page file on your SSD is going to dramatically shorten it's lifespan.

  13. Agreed. The more backups, the better. One backup is not enough. Online storage from Onedrive or Dropbox is another good option as it resolves the concern of getting the content offsite (in case of file and your backup drives are destroyed).

  14. The amount of wear a regular user puts on an SSD yearly is minimal compared to the amount of wear a consumer SSD can handle. You’d have to step up to enterprise workloads to beat it up. Depending on the SSD, it would take tens of years for a consumer’s daily use to wear out an SSD. I would highly suggest NOT moving anything highly used off of the SSD, even if it creates additional writes, such as the user data/pagefile. Running the pagefile on the SSD give a huge performance gain. It's seems pointless to go with an SSD if you're going to lose so much performance by trying to extend the life by moving the page off the SSD.

  15. Do not put your page file on the SSD. Make a ram drive and put the swap on there. SSDs are only good for so many reads and writes, the cheaper drives that number is low, and a swap file is constantly doing R/W so putting it on a ram drive or even a platter drive will really help you SSD live longer

  16. SSD's are great to run your OS (including the Page file) for speed, but I still use traditional hard drives for data storage. Never mind this problem with data retention, the other risk is that when an SSD fails, it happens instantly – you get no warning. Usually with a hard drive, you get some advance indication that the dive is failing and you have time to save any important data (which you should have backed up anyway). To me, the ideal computer has both: an SSD for OS and software and a HD for data storage.

  17. As far as retaining critical data, optical disks still offer the most reliable data storage, especially for photographs. Under Texas law, for example, it is one of the approved methods for storage of official state records. Their guidelines suggest that such records should be copied into optical disks on a timely basis, in duplicate (on two separate disks, using R/W verification when burning the disk), and the 2 disks integrity checked on a regular basis (say, every 1-5 years), and any data loss restored from an undamaged disk. Under no circumstance should an optical disk be relied upon for more than 10 years because the base plastic may deteriorate over time, resulting in loss of data. Keep disks in a cool, dark place, free of corrosive vapors. (The last requirement went into effect when the legislature discovered that storing microfilm (black) and microfiche (blue) in the same cabinets resulted in damage to the microfilm. Microfilm is also damaged by certain fumes given off by pressboard and processed chip-board, often used in cabinet construction.) Ozone and moisture should be controlled also. I keep my CD’s in a safe in which there is a silica-gel pillow to absorb any humidity. HTH.

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