How Old Is Your Hard Drive? The Lifespan of Hard Drives

In a city like Dallas, everything is running on overtime. There never seems to be a break (except maybe for the occasional Dallas Cowboys game). If you work in a corporation or if you’re a student, you know that you can put in many hours on a computer. You bring your work home with you. Not only do you work with your computer, but it’s also your entertainment. You use it to watch Netflix or Hulu and explore Facebook, or shout out to the world with Twitter. When you’re not surfing the web, you’re blasting your music whenever you get a chance. Our computers literally help our lives function–for work and play. This constant activity and work could wear down your computer and hard drive fast.

How Long a Hard Drive Lasts On and Off the Shelf 

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Your hard drive has a limited lifespan. But how old is your hard drive? I’m not talking about years but about the number of hours the hard drive has been used. When used constantly, the expected lifespan for a hard drive is 5 years. Not bad, right? Nevertheless, a hard drive that’s been used all day, every day — carried from work, school, vacation, and back home again — is not going to last as long as a desktop. However, a hard drive that’s used rarely and put away properly could function up to 7 or 8 years.

Will Solid State Drives Live Longer?

Do solid state drives and hard drives have different life spans? In theory, yes. Because there are no moving parts in a SSD, it should last longer. At the most, SSDs can last up to a decade in storage (once again, in theory). They are also less vulnerable to magnets and heat. Though they don’t have moving parts, SSDs have their own way of failing. Their lifespan is determined by how many new gigabytes of memory you save every day (typically 1.4 GB a day). So, you would need to write a lot more data in order to wear out the drive. But even with all these features, solid state drives do fail, and most of the time it isn’t due to pushing it too hard (which is difficult to do already).

Don’t Put New Wine in an Old Bottle

Having a back up is essential to keeping your data safe. Why keep pouring more valuable data onto your old (and possibly dying) hard drive? Don’t put new wine in an old bottle; get a new and better backup hard drive or have an online storage service for your data before your old one kicks a gasket.

As stated earlier, if you use your backup hard drive rarely and put it away properly, you can significantly increase its lifespan. But it’s not like it’s in cryostasis. The hard drive still ages. When your backup hard drive is running low on life, it’s time to replace it with another.

What to Do for an Already Dead Hard Drive

So your old hard drive gave out on you, but you didn’t have all your data backed up? Before you attempt anything, find more information on data recovery. If you only want a few files to be recovered, you could try quick tricks, such as freezing your hard drive. If you want to save money but need to recover most of your data, there are free data recovery programs available too. “Free” will only go so far, however. If you want to have the best chance of keeping your important data intact, sending your hard drive to a professional company will save you another headache.

If you don’t want to worry about any of that–just make sure that you have all your important files in a healthy backup hard drive. Prevention has always been better than cleaning up the mess after the fact.

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Claire Young is a freelancer who regularly writes reviews about new gadgets. Through her articles, she hopes to encourage others to take better care of their devices and, most importantly, their vital data.