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Can you lose data over time when leaving SSD/USB flash drive unpowered

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As the title says.

I have several USB flash drives and one SSD that I use for external backups.

Can I lose data if left unpowered for a longer period?
 
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It's a flash based, so probably no, (maybe if the cells losing their charge, ie caps dry out on several years maybe, if it is present at all), but im not sure.
What is longer period?
 
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Yes, it is possible. Some early TLC drives were showing signs of NAND leakage after only a few months of being unpowered.
 
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So it's best to plug them in at least every 6 months or so? The SSD I have is MLC.

A tad old article, but should give you an idea.
"typically over ten years for MLC NAND based SSDs. If you buy a drive today and stash it away, the drive itself will become totally obsolete quicker than it will lose its data."

Ok that's good to know.
 
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Keep in mind that temperature matters as well, if you look at the table from Intel. Too hot storage temperature a big no no.
 
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Keep in mind that temperature matters as well, if you look at the table from Intel. Too hot storage temperature a big no no.
Mine are stored at 15~30 degrees C.

I left one USB drive unpowered for a few years and had some programs not work after that used to, if that helps.
But did you lose data?
 
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Mine are stored at 15~30 degrees C.



But did you lose data?
I'm pretty sure if the program stopped working something in there either was lost or degraded.
 
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I had an SSD stop working for the first time ever yesterday morning, took my x58 out. It was a Crucial M4 256 that still had 99%. None of my rigs will try to post with it installed. I have some old spinners that are loaded up with pics, and kept away from daily life. That was my first SSD death in the decade or so that I've been using them, lost many more spinners. Not sure what I would trust at this point. Probably a DVD or something. Can you even buy those still? :laugh:
 
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or the programs have stopped working due to windows updates :) its amazing how soon things become unsinked with updates not supporting programs .
 
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As mentioned in that article, I think the bigger problem is supporting technologies will go obsolete and be replaced. For example, folks stored all their newly digitized family photos on ATA hard drives, then couldn't read them when their new computers only supported EIDE (PATA) drive interfaces. It happened again when folks saved all their data on EIDE drives but their new motherboards only support SATA.

The lesson here is, have multiple backups on a variety of storage media. Then store it in a cool, dry, dust free place. Then revisit and perhaps "refresh" those backups ever couple years to make sure you still have the necessary technologies to read them. Create new backups and new technologies take over as the standard.
 

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For example, folks stored all their newly digitized family photos on ATA hard drives, then couldn't read them when their new computers only supported EIDE (PATA) drive interfaces.
PATA encompasses the entire IDE standard, this includes IDE and EIDE and UDMA. When SATA come out, all the old stuff was just referred to as PATA.

As mentioned in that article, I think the bigger problem is supporting technologies will go obsolete and be replaced.
There is always a, usually, very long transition period though. When SATA came out and started to replace PATA, there was a very long time where motherboards/systems had both. We are seeing this again now that PCI-E based storage is beginning to replace SATA. Mainstream storage standards don't just disappear overnight. If people suddenly find their backup media can't be read because the interface doesn't exist anymore, then they're idiots.

How about USB flash drives?
Flash drives can be even worse because their controllers aren't as smart as SSD controllers. I've plugged flash drives in that have sat for only a couple months, and there was corrupt data on them.

And for how long unpowered you can lose data?
Months, years, it all depends. I definitely wouldn't rely on unpowered flash based storage as my only backup.
 
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Maybe a year.
Mine have been off for 2+ years, my usb flash drives go for longer at times.

PATA encompasses the entire IDE standard, this includes IDE and EIDE and UDMA. When SATA come out, all the old stuff was just referred to as PATA.



There is always a, usually, very long transition period though. When SATA came out and started to replace PATA, there was a very long time where motherboards/systems had both. We are seeing this again now that PCI-E based storage is beginning to replace SATA. Mainstream storage standards don't just disappear overnight. If people suddenly find their backup media can't be read because the interface doesn't exist anymore, then their idiots.



Flash drives can be even worse because their controllers aren't as smart as SSD controllers. I've plugged flash drives in that have sat for only a couple months, and there was corrupt data on them.



Months, years, it all depends. I definitely wouldn't rely on unpowered flash based storage as my only backup.
Yup HDDs, optical, tape
 
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Yes, it is possible. Some early TLC drives were showing signs of NAND leakage after only a few months of being unpowered.
It makes sense as tlc and newer drives with multiple level cell, needs to hold its charge at more precise level than previus drive generation alá mlc or slc.
So it has a bigger chance to failure with a variations in their charge level.
 

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Yup HDDs, optical, tape
I wouldn't trust Optical either. Disc rot is a real thing.

It makes sense as tlc and newer drives with multiple level cell, needs to hold its charge at more precise level than previus drive generation alá mlc or slc.
So it has a bigger chance to failure with a variations in their charge level.
It affects SLC and MLC too. In fact, it affects all NAND flash memory. But, for the reasons you pointed out, it can be worse with TLC and QLC.
 
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Look up M-Disk tech; it's fairly permanent.

SSD's are data loss machines, in my experience; at least the freezer trick works on spinning drives.

Also, just powering up an SSD won't help; you need to read the entire thing to refresh the charge on the cells.

The read algorithm is destructive, meaning it does a read-modify-write process every time it accesses the cells. (Even if it's rewriting the same data as before.)

It only refreshes cells that were read, so the charge loss is proportional to When the Data was Written; some data might not have changed for a year before you disconnected the drive.

:)

I consider Flash storage as equal to RAID-0 now, with all the same mitigations against loss, and I haven't been screwed since.
 

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I've not had a problem with my USB sticks. Granted, they get plugged in at least once a year.

Random thought: Floppy disks are the absolute worst for data retention.

Magnetic storage is the best for long term, offline data retention. As long as the equipment exists/functions to retrieve the data from the magnetic medium and it is not exposed to a strong magnet, it will retain the data for hundreds of years.

Hard drives in enclosures are the best, practical offline back up drives. They're cheap per gigabyte, relatively quick, and connectivity is ubiquitous.
 
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PATA encompasses the entire IDE standard, this includes IDE and EIDE and UDMA. When SATA come out, all the old stuff was just referred to as PATA.
:( Okay. The point remains the same. EIDE is not compatible with AT and SATA is not compatible with EIDE. And the point was, even though the data may remain viable, if you can't access that because the interface is no longer available, the data is worthless.

As far as long transition periods allowing for backwards support, that's not the point. Many new motherboards today have no EIDE drive interfaces and certainly don't have AT. Yes, there are still adapters available but they are thinning out too.

I used to use Adaptec tapes to back up my drives. One installed in a 5.25 drive bay and used the AT interface. Another tape drive used the now obsolete parallel port. Other obsolete or near obsolete commonly used media for backups were 5.25 floppies, 3.5" floppys, and CDs. DVDs are pretty much history too.

People have precious memories on VCR tape but VCR players are pretty scarce.

I am not a fan of storing my data in "the cloud" but that may be the only real permanent solution because access to that data will evolve and maintain compatibility - unlike access though obsolete hardware we have locally.

FTR, It is not that I dislike the cloud out of fear my data will get lost. I am certain there are already more copies than anyone knows. My fear is those responsible for keeping it secure and out of the hands of the bad guys are incompetent and will negligently allow our data to be hacked and stolen.
 
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Well, not sure about tapes.

My uncle is a camera man for a television since 80ties. My early recordings on VHS from late 80ties has developed black grain issue on the image, lucky it is analog, so it works anyway... but still something broke down on the film. It has to be stored in laboratory climate. So if you have VHS, better digitilize them.

Plain old HDD's seem the best... also for the cloud...

Just 7zip the thing with a nice password, no one will bother to decrypt it anyways.
 
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I'm digitizing vhs tales from the 80's; none have degraded.

I also restored a win3.11 5.25" backup on 23 floppies recently; it restored fine.
:)

Then, of course, I found the ST225 drive I made the backup from, and it still works fine, even after a 30 year stay in the basement.
 
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I'm digitizing vhs tales from the 80's; none have degraded.

I also restored a win3.11 5.25" backup on 23 floppies recently; it restored fine.
:)

Then, of course, I found the ST225 drive I made the backup from, and it still works fine, even after a 30 year stay in the basement.
You're lucky then, I tried to get some stuff off a few 3.5" floppies a few years ago and a lot of the data had been corrupted.
A lot of this has to do with storage temperature and humidity, as both are killers of computer hardware.
 
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