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  1. #1
    Body By Nintendo Psydotek's Avatar
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    Reliability of USB Drives for Long Term Storage?

    Anybody have experience with USB FLASH MEMORY drives for long term storage? I'm thinking of getting a bunch of them to save pictures/videos/game patches/music instead of burning them all to CD/DVDs. More expensive in terms of price/GB but copying stuff and keeping track of them is alot easier than burning CD/DVDs and trying to make stuff fit (at least for CDs).

    Edit: I'm talking specifically about USB Flash Drives, not USB portable hard drives.
    Last edited by Psydotek; 04-08-08 at 10:38 AM.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    A girl once asked me to give her twelve inches and make it hurt. I had to make love to her 3 times and then punch her in the nose.

  2. #2
    The quieter you become... Falkon's Avatar
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    I just had a panic at work about a week ago, because a USB drive that had my test logs stored on it decided to stop working, and I needed those logs for an analysis report. Luckily it started working again long enough to get them back.
    Quote Originally Posted by TechKnowGN
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  3. #3
    Banned. timmyquest's Avatar
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    treat it gingerly. Other than where it sits, it is exactly the same thing as what is inside your computer...

  4. #4
    Body By Nintendo Psydotek's Avatar
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    Hmm, or even SD flash memory would be an option... Would they be at least as stable as CD/DVD-Rs or even 3.5" floppies?

    Tape drives aren't an option because i just don't wanna deal with 'em.

    There's probably only 20-30GB of data i wanna backup and it's not uber critical stuff. I'd just be copying the stuff and then putting it in a folder in my closet. 10 years would be ideal.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    A girl once asked me to give her twelve inches and make it hurt. I had to make love to her 3 times and then punch her in the nose.

  5. #5
    The quieter you become... Falkon's Avatar
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    SD cards and compact flash I have never had an issue with.
    Quote Originally Posted by TechKnowGN
    San Jose has to be the most boring place I've ever been. And I live in Ohio.

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    Banned. timmyquest's Avatar
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    In that case...very

  7. #7
    Recreational Commuter
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    I've never had a problem. Actually, theoreticlly they'd last longer in that kind of application than in "cyclic" usage (changing files on them a lot) becasue there are only som many write cycles on flash media before they get unreliable.
    Riding the Ohio MS Central Ohio Challenge tour, July 12th.

  8. #8
    Banned. mazpr's Avatar
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    Permanent memory is 99% leak proof, I have been working with computers for many years and this is a question that rises a lot of debate.

    Many of my MP3 freak friends ask me the same question, the typical answer is backup. Data storage HDs are so cheap you can get 500 gigs on ebay for a hundred or so. I got at home one 160 gig and 300 internal SATA drives and one external 300 EIDE Hard drive. For very very important information I would trust more high quality DVD media as long as its not humongous amount of data.

    Have I lost media, data? Yes, it happens and usually it does out of the blue without any warnings. Keep it away from magnets, large tvs, stereo speakers, etc, like I said the cure to data loss is backups and if possible re-write or refresh the data once a year at least.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    I have a usb flash drive from few years ago. It gets bash around a bit - still works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psydotek View Post
    Anybody have experience with USB FLASH MEMORY drives for long term storage? I'm thinking of getting a bunch of them to save pictures/videos/game patches/music instead of burning them all to CD/DVDs. More expensive in terms of price/GB but copying stuff and keeping track of them is alot easier than burning CD/DVDs and trying to make stuff fit (at least for CDs).

    Edit: I'm talking specifically about USB Flash Drives, not USB portable hard drives.
    There's nothing inherently unreliable about flash memory, theoretically. But the quality varies depending on which ones you get. I had a generic one I bought from Microcenter that was very inconsistent and unreliaable, but I had another Kingston one that never failed on me.

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    Why not get some hosting service where they host/backup for you?

    I was under the impression the CD/DVD's we burn as consumers are only good for 4-5 years.
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  12. #12
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob P View Post
    Why not get some hosting service where they host/backup for you?

    I was under the impression the CD/DVD's we burn as consumers are only good for 4-5 years.
    Online is a great idea, as long as speed isn't an issue and you don't need access to it when you don't have an internet connection. There are services dedicated specifically to online storage, or you can subscribe to web-hosting service. The latter typically tends to be cheaper, but marginally more technical. The double-bonus is that it's off-site, so even if your house burns down (which could destroy both your computer and your external hard-drive), the data is safe. Of course, a similar alternative would be to simply keep your flash drive at work or in a safe-deposit box.

    Good DVD's (quality matters) kept in a reasonably controlled environment should be good for around 20 years, according to NIST.

    I've never seen any info on the suitability of flash for archival type storage. From what I've read about how it works, I would expect it to experience long-term bit rot, but I don't know for sure and I've never had any trouble personally.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

  13. #13
    your god hates me Bob Ross's Avatar
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    The ugly truth about computer data is that NO ONE REALLY KNOWS what the "long term" reliability is because computers haven't been around long enough to truly qualify as "long term"!

    We have lots of empirical evidence suggesting that a healthy percentage of your data can survive a decade on some sort of storage media, and slightly less empirical evidence suggesting that a decent percentage of your data can survive several decades on some sort of storage media, but we have absolutely no evidence suggesting that any percentage of your data can survive a century on any sort of (digital) storage media.

    So the first question to ask is, how long do you want to store your data for?

  14. #14
    Body By Nintendo Psydotek's Avatar
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    Long enough to survive at least 2 computer builds which is about 10 years (i generally build a new computer every 4-5 years).

    I figure i'll just make another backup copy sometime around then. Flash memory i'm sure will be alot cheaper and there might even be something new to use.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    A girl once asked me to give her twelve inches and make it hurt. I had to make love to her 3 times and then punch her in the nose.

  15. #15
    It is fantastic. voltman's Avatar
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    I wouldn't bother (using it as long term storage). I just had one die on me.

  16. #16
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    I wouldn't count on any one media for backup. I usually keep a copy of important on my stuff on hardrive, disc (DVD), an external drive and sometimes on a server (they do tape backups). Redundancy is the way to go if it is important.

  17. #17
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    Depends on how important your data is. No one form of storage is perfect, so if it's really important, then there is no substitute for making multiple backups on different types of media stored in different geographical locations and actually testing your backups. Last I checked, carved in stone is one of the most reliable forms of storage of data, but unfortunately, its data capacity is awfully low.

    Also consider file formats, as there's no guarantee that any particular file format will be useful ten years from now (though common file formats should be readable, if only in specialized programs). This is an especially big problem if you use any non-mainstream programs, but consider that PageMaker, for example, was never very good about being compatible with older PageMaker documents.

    These two are both problems for my future lab's computing setup, where I anticipate holding on to data for multiple decades. For backup, I anticipate using something like Apple's Time Machine, external hard drives on a rotation scheme, and offsite hosting. To help minimize human error losses and to handle ballooning amounts of data, every month or so, I plan to change older data to read-only status. Anything of importance will be saved in a very common file format (such as PDF) as well as the program-specific file format. If I stick with paper lab notebooks (I probably will due to cost), pages will be scanned for archival. No point protecting my electronic data so carefully if a single incident could wipe out all my paper data.
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  18. #18
    Body By Nintendo Psydotek's Avatar
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    Well, it's mostly pictures from the digital camera, MP3s, videos, and pr0n. Nothing critical, more akin to the collection of photo albums, music CDs, and movie DVDs that alot of people have.

    I'll just go with the Flash memory for now and later add an external hard drive for redundancy. I did back up a bunch of stuff on CD-Rs afew years ago but holy crap it took a looooong time and trying to divide everything up in 750MB chunks while staying organized was kinda a pain...

    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    A girl once asked me to give her twelve inches and make it hurt. I had to make love to her 3 times and then punch her in the nose.

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