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OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...

Posted by Ben King 
OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 05:48AM
Hey everyone,

After listening to Larry on the [www.digitalproductionbuzz.com] last night I thought I'd share the warning here for those of you that don't listen to the show.

Essentially an unplugged HDD sitting on a shelf will lose charge over time and the data will literally disappear.

This can be solved by plugging the power in and scanning the HDDs.

Read the entire article here: [www.larryjordan.biz]

However I have to say that whilst this appears to be fact, the time it takes to lose data might vary wildly - for instance I have an old FireWire HDD on the shelf which I hadn't used for over 3 years and all the data was intact.

However as per the article it is best to err on the side of caution.

I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences on stored HDD Data integrity...



For instant answers to more than one hundred common FCP questions, check out the LAFCPUG FAQ Wiki here : [www.lafcpug.org]
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 10:35AM
Ah cool. The article is out too! I read that on the newsletter just a couple of days ago. Hard disks shouldn't be used if a reliable/critical archival system is needed, and multiple versions should be kept (it's either hard drive and tape, hard drive and dvds).

Read somewhere on another forum some time ago about the grease drying up over time, causing drives to fail, which accounts for the practice of taking drives out for a spin (yea, in a convertible) every half a year is a good idea. Lol. Chinese whispers.

But personally, I've never actually encountered missing data, without other stuff like drive failure or file corruption.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 11:18AM
I believe some of Larry Jordan's hardware information on disk drives is TOTALLY inaccurate.

""Read somewhere on another forum some time ago about the grease drying up over time, causing drives to fail"

There is NO grease used in lubricating spindle bearings. That was many, many years ago that some cheaper drive manufactures used a form of grease on spindle bearings. Does anyone remember when you needed to use a 2x4 to "whack" the drive to get to working after a long power down?

As far as platters loosing their magnetive propeties, HOGWARSH! Maybe if you let a drive set around for 50-100 years and they experience a earth magnet North-South switch, but disk drives, in general only loose data due to a couple of things.

One is when the electronics PCBoard fails on the drive or (in an almost impossible circumstance) a head would come loose from the mounting platform on the arm and scratch the surface of the platter.

Several decades ago when the first rotational medium were developed, there were many problems because they were sold as media mountable products. That is the actual platters were exchangable and this caused many serious head contact problems know as "crashes".

When the drive manufacturers could no longer stand the horrible MTBF data of reliability they started experimenting with making smaller platter/ fixed spindle products.

Some of the earliest development of the 3.5" drives we all know today were failure prone, but since >15 years ago, the products from manufacturers who sell several Billion disk drives a year have become nearly bullet proof.

That in itself, doesn't mean there aren't initial product failures but in >99% of all disk drive sales there are no startup failures.
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 12:05PM
I'm with the million year crowd.

I have a 250MB drive that still spins up and runs--slowly. We had a very old telephone switch that had a 1G hard drive that failed. I went out to the garage and pulled out an old 1.2G and it still had the OS on it from when I retired it years ago.

Some hard drives didn't survive. I had two or three out of the pile that appear blank and they went into the trash. There's a couple of 10G drives in there that still work.

Koz
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 12:05PM
I don't know the cause, but drives definitely do go bad even when sitting on a shelf in a regularly cleaned, climate-regulated room. I haven't had a single workplace give me an exception, except my own home. I can't find the logic behind the issue, because I've also had an almost-new Lacie 1TB fail after merely six months in service (and it was sitting in its box -- don't know if the PA might have dropped it, but I doubt it), while a 250GB Lacie that was sitting on my kitchen counter collecting grease for 18 months still mounted up without a hitch.


www.derekmok.com
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 12:15PM
Seems to me that you are all talking about external IE: Firewire connected drives in enclosures.

I am speaking about the bare drive itself. All drives within Firewire enclosures are ATA/IDE variants.

Until SATA drives came out that's all there was.
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 02:55PM
Hmm... No doubt there has been a LOT of word going around on how best to store data on hard disks.

There was a mention that having 2 back ups on the same batch of drives, is self defeating in terms of avoiding data loss, as the drives are made at around the same time, and under the same conditions with the same level of technology, and short of a unique manufacturing defect on one of them, both are likely to fail at around the same time.

Also, the lifespan of hard disks (including SATA and FW drives), would it be safe to allow 3-5 years of fairly reliable storage in well kept conditions? I still live in the "back up to at least 2 different mediums" era.

Currently, the industry standard are LTOs, due to both cost and durability (30 years of archival storage at up to 800 gigs per tape on LTO 4), also the fact that it's data, which is unlike having a 'flattened' copy on video tape. Though, if hard disks becomes extremely reliable and/or hard disk space exponentially increases (we talk about 10 TB RAIDs), an LTO drive bought today will probably be obsolete as it can no longer keep up with the pure mass of storage information required.



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 03:47PM
ive had one for a decade, of which about 7 years was spent in a box and it spun right up and all data appeared fine...

i do think though that about every 6 months or so would be wise to fire up just to be safe
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 05, 2008 08:43PM
I'm not talking about external drives in cabinets. I'm talking about raw naked drives that look like the drive icon at the top of your desktop. The kind you have to slide the computer cabinet open and attack with screwdrivers and hope you don't damage the ribbon cable.

Mostly PCs. I've only been an actual Mac user for about three or four years.

Koz
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 06, 2008 08:21AM
I had a 9GB SCSI drive that appeared blank after about 10 years of non use. Attached it to an old Mac with a SCSI port and thought the drive had failed. Actually it was blank although it was full when I retired it.
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 06, 2008 08:24AM
Am sure the hard drive manufacturers would much prefer folks err on the side of paranoia and replace their shelved drives every couple years or so. Spinning them up once a year for a data integrity check would seem to be wise though.
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 06, 2008 10:38AM
To grab the full scope of this, you need to add a 4th category to the poll:

"I don't store data on hard disks".

I have been using DVD-R's for storage (now DL-DVD's and soon BluRay) since they were introduced.

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 06, 2008 05:16PM
now i HAVE had SEVERAL CD/DVD discs go bad over the years...
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 07, 2008 11:47AM
Haha... My Eric Clapton CD bought in the mid 90s is skipping. sad smiley

Wait for this, Joe:

Quote
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc
Also behind closed doors at CES 2007, Ritek revealed that they had successfully developed a High Definition optical disc process that extends the disc capacity to 10 layers. That increases the capacity of the discs to 250 GB. However, they noted that the major obstacle is that current reader and writer technology does not support the additional layers.

I like the LTO idea, but I'm thinking that the price may be a bit steep if it goes obsolete within a few years with mega large RAIDs. Hmm... Come to think of it... If we hit 80 TBs on RAIDs it'll take 100 LTO-4 tapes for storage (then it may take a long time)... Hmm.. Still not too bad, considering that 80 TB RAIDs don't seem likely within the next 2 years.

But yea, on a side note, it may soon be time to welcome a new Mac! A 12 core?
[news.cnet.com]



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 08, 2008 09:30AM
G,

I would never use such a large disk anyway. I would rather use a few smaller disks because if one fails, you lose less work. Everything fails it's just a matter of when.

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 08, 2008 09:39AM
I used to say the same thing, Joey, back when 40 GB drives seemed unfillably vast. Now you can't even buy 'em any more.

We have to adapt to the times.

Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 08, 2008 10:13AM
You make me sound so oooooold, Jeff...thanks sad smiley

Of course...this depends on what type of work you do. I do mainly short form (2 minutes or under). I have adapted to the times...but that doesn't change my work ethic. Backing up is just as important as creating the work itself and if my methods of safeguarding work for me and they aren't "up to date", well...call me old fashioned. I would rather burn 6 - 25 gig disks than one 250 gig disk any day. The odds are in my favor in case of a failure.

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 08, 2008 10:24AM
Just to have 10 terabytes of storage today is so technology thrilling, as even 1 terabyte was too much to consider ten years ago. Even back in the late 90's we were trying to imagine a 500 GB disk drive. Many people said it couldn't be done.

5 Terabyte 3.5" disk drives are going to be a reality by 2012 and how do back that up?
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 08, 2008 11:30AM
And the scary thing about it is... There is a motivation for it- Uncompressed HD, tapeless workflows, RED formats.

5 TB drives on a 5 disk RAID 5 configuration, it's 20 TBs. With current technology, that will be 25 LTO-4 tapes.. But that's quite a bit of footage even for Uncompressed HD!



www.strypesinpost.com
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 08:28AM
I thought about this and decided to try it. I just ordered 2 of those sexy 500 GB Caldigit Firewire VR units (with the removable / swappable drive sleds) - one will be my RAID "0" workhorse and the other will be chained and configured RAID "1" strictly for backup. I will be removing those 250 GB drives when full and storing them.

BTW...I wouldn't store any HDDs near anything with magnetic properties as a precaution.

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

PG
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 04:19PM
I am facing the same problem of storage for SD footage. I like Joey's idea of storing on DVDs, however, do you not lose some quality since bumping over to a DVD puts the footage under additional compression?

Your thoughts. Thanks.

PG
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 05:23PM
I'm pretty sure Joe isn't talking about video DVDs, which I'd consider useless as an archive. He's talking about data DVDs because of the quality loss, difficulty in re-extracting, lack of timecode etc. As storage media they're pretty good, since usual data DVDs are Read Only and therefore less prone to corruption, but they take forever to burn.


www.derekmok.com
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 05:24PM
Pretty sure Joey was talking about storing his files on DVDs, not burning NTSC DVDs of his footage. Yes, going from whatever format you're cutting on your system (compressed, "only technically compressed" or uncompressed) to DVD imposes a significant compression hit.

Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 05:25PM
Let the record reflect that Derek totally owes me a Coke.

PG
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 08:15PM
Is there a reference or so called model number for data DVDs similar to DVD-5, etc.? I need to archive footage by other means as well as on HDs and would like to know where to purchase them.

Thanks
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 11, 2008 10:05PM
I'm going to load up my archive drives (internal SATA2s) today to check now that you've got me all lily-livered. So far it's all been fine.

Hmm.. actually I do have a couple of external drives at the workplace I'm in now that've been sitting for a few years. I'll check them too.

Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 12, 2008 01:06PM
Quote

I like Joey's idea of storing on DVDs, however, do you not lose some quality since bumping over to a DVD puts the footage under additional compression?

I should have been clearer...backing up to DATA DVD's...which means copying footage / projects / grafix files in their ORIGINAL STATE (Uncompressed, whatever) to a DVD-R or a DL-DVD. I would never re-compress / compress anything for backup. The main disks I use are Verbatim Doube Layer (holds around 7.9 GB):



They are a little more than $1.00 a disk. Shop around:

[www.newegg.com]

When life gives you dilemmas...make dilemmanade.

PG
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 12, 2008 07:55PM
Joey,

I posted a question earlier on this segment of the forum, however, I may not have been clear. I am told that whenever you record to a DVD-R it goes into compression. Therefore, if you save your uncompressed files onto a DVD-R you actually add compression to these files. It sounds to me that it would be better to save them on a hard drive and then activate that hard drive every 6 months to a year.

Your thoughts on this matter?

Thanks.

PG
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 12, 2008 08:04PM
PG, there are two kinds of DVDs. There's the kind you play in your DVD player, and the kind you put into your computer, like the ones Final Cut Studio comes on. Joey's talking about the second kind. When you record computer files to data DVDs, they're just written out bit for bit, without any compression of any kind.

PG
Re: OT: Shelf Life of Hard Disks...
September 12, 2008 11:01PM
Jeff,

Thanks for the additional clarification. Now I need to know when purchasing data DVDs is there a reference name or number that I look for or just plain data DVDs?

Thanks again.

PG
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