How durable are portable HDs?

Some time ago I read they were fragile and even a small bump could make the files irrecoverable. The average lifetime given was 5-10 years. I was wondering if this average is accurate and, if the device is indeed fragile, if it can break on its own, without our action. 

2 Answers

  • 3 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    What is delicate on hard drives is the moving parts.  The recording/reading head glides a couple microns (millionths of an meter) over the moving platter.  If you bang the drive around while the head is not parked but reading or recording, it could bounce on the platter.  That might damage data or the head itself.

    All moving parts might fail sometime.  That goes for the spindle bearings of the platter, or its motor, or the head coil moving part.  The electronics could pop or short out.

    I have used hard disks for more than 30 years and had one fail long ago from my stupidity.  I plugged it on wrong pins and bad signals scrambled the data tracks.  Never could fix it.

    Solid state drives or SSD type have no moving parts.  But the memory cells in it have a limited number of writes before they accumulate errors.

    No media that I know of is that dependable.  Even CDs and DVDs could get scratched and ruined, or their writer/reader could go out.  Only one I ever heard of was almost forever.  Corning Glass Works invented a way to make a recording disk that had information burned in.  But that could still be broken.

    Source(s): Decades ago IBM made big metal platters for "disk packs" of recorded data. Once a pack was dropped and bent. A friend of mine was called in to rescue the management. All the car loans for the Bay Area were not being read, and no backup. The branch boss had a plane ticket to Chile if there was no solution (bank was owned by shady types, name was "Bunch of Assholes", one of the largest). My friend bent the disks by hand, managed to get a good read out, saved some lives.
  • Dze
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago

    ive had a couple of 2tb wd compact drives for over 5 years .. that said i dont use them 'every' day but one i have like 1000 movies on i use quite a bit to plug into smart tv's .. no problems .. that said dont drop them or leave them in a hot car or humid place imo ... electronics generally are not drop proof ...

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