After numerous problems with backing up my DVD collection onto DVD+Rs, I've been thinking about using hard drives since they're so cheap now. My question is this: what is the lifespan of a drive when not in use? If I backed up my data onto it, put it in a suitable box and plugged it in again in 10 years would the data still be intact? Would the chances of mechanical failure increase over the years?
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You have two copies of each now - your originals and the DVD+R's. Now you want more backups! In ten years the hard drive won't work new your PC. We will all be running Windows 2010 Pro. Another set of backups would be the cheapest option if you are serious.
You should be ok as long as your "storing" in a reasonable environment.
The main enemies over time are humidity, temperature shock and vibration. Over time, lubricants may solidify somewhat but if properly stored the odds are low and start up torque should overcome stiction. Electronics should be ok but there is always a chance (slim) of a random failure on startup after storage. With the market moving (or moved) to lead free electronics, another potential downside is the formation of tin whiskers. However, again, the odds are probably in your favor.
A reasonable environment is room temperature or less, 50% or thereabouts relative humidity without rapid changes in temp.
The main mechanical enemies of operating drives are bearing life. If you're not spinning, you're not wearing out the bearing.
I would be more concerned about what you think you're going to plug into in 10 years time. With advances in memory technology I would not be surprised if hard drives in the traditional sense are history by then. Almost certainly, the current interfaces (IDE, SATA and SCSI) will change.
I had planned to put each drive in an external usb enclosure; I figure that in ten years time (at which point I will copy them to new drives, which will be cheaper as price per gb drops) if we aren't still using USB there will be a cheap adaptor available; same thing with the file system. I figured that if each dvd was copied to two drives the total cost would be around $0.75/gb, which would of course go down.
most h.d.s are 50,000 - 100,000 hours mtbf. but that doesn't mean they have to be powered to fail. what can happen is the same as a cassette tape stored too long. the magnetized particle on the platter can lose it's orientation resulting in the data being lost. there is no perfect long term storage currently available. the old use it or lose it may be more apt than the joke implies. if the data isn't moved every so often it can just poof... and be gone.--
"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
An interesting note:
I just dug out my first computer and started it up the other day. It's an old Leading Edge (w/NEC D70108D-8: a reversed engineered copy of the Intel 8088) that hasn't been turned on in over 13 years. It fired right up. I fully expected the hard drive to be seized up after sitting for that long. Instead I got the DOS prompt in about 15 seconds. I didn't run chkdsk, but it appeared that all the data was still intact.
I wouldn't recommend letting important data sit around on hard drive for that long, though. Spin it up every now and then and check for errors.valvehead//
Of course, the real question is why backup ALL of your DVD's. I can see making copies of some of them, especially if you have young kids. But the actuall replacement cost for any of the movies that actually fail would be a lot less than the cost to back up the whole collection.Google is your Friend
If you haven't yet seen BluRay HD movies on a fully tweaked 40 inch flat screen, head on down to Circuit City or somewhere before starting on another set of copies.
In 10 years DVDs will look like Super8 does now, or subjectively worse.
I'm not a big fan of where couch potatoing is heading, but the new detail onscreen is phenomenal... I was hip-no-tized!:]
OT: The whole digital broadcasting change is gonna cause chaos... not only my tuners, but my antenna is trash too!