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What Happens to a Hard Drive When It’s Stored Away for Several Years?

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One of the most common questions we are asked by our clients is, “What’s the best way to store my business’s data?” Questions like these are imperative to the survival of any business endeavor, as they force you to think in the grand scheme of things. So, what’s the best way to store your data long-term?

For instance, if you have a hard drive filled with pictures, some might be worth holding onto. However, you can’t justify storing them on your primary computer, mainly because they take up a ton of space. One way you can resolve this issue is to transfer the pictures to an external hard drive, or you can simply leave them where they are the next time you upgrade your PC. The best thing you can do for your hard disk storage is to keep them in a climate-controlled environment that ensures it’ll be available if and when you need to access it.

If the average consumer purchases new technology consistently, it can lead to having a data storage system that looks like a closet filled with computers. Does this sound familiar? If so, you realize how inconvenient this kind of data storage technique can be. However, not only is this inefficient for you, but it also puts your data at risk of degradation.

While hard disk drives aren’t necessarily at risk of data degradation by default, they are if the hard drives aren’t taken care of. In order to prevent this common issue, storing these drives in a climate-controlled environment is absolutely essential. The IT world calls this term by a more common name: “cold storage.” It might seem like your old hard drives aren’t at risk, but you’d be surprised by how much data you can lose if you don’t take the necessary steps to preserve it. Here are some basic steps you can take to make sure your data stays safe while in storage.

  • Power on your hard drive every few years. Your drive’s data probably isn’t just going to disappear, but over time the oil around the drive’s ball bearings can dry out. A HDD without oil will likely result in a hard drive crash. By powering on your hard drives every now and again, you’ll provide the lubrication necessary for it to stay loose and functional.
  • Make sure your hard drive storage facility is completely climate controlled. A climate-controlled environment isn’t truly climate-controlled if the air conditioning or heat is turned off throughout a portion of the year. Data degradation can result from excessive amounts of moisture in the air, or extreme temperatures. When storing away your data, think of how it will hold up in the long term; at least up to five or ten years. It’s essential that your data be stored in a consistent location.
  • Make multiple copies of your data. You might have guessed this, but it makes sense to have multiple copies of your data in order to minimize the chances that a disaster were to destroy it. Unpredictable disasters, as well as human error, can all lead to the destruction of your data. This is why it’s more important than anything else to have multiple copies of it in the event of the worst. This means moving these copies to multiple different locations, or even in the cloud.

If you’re set on handling your old hardware with the cold storage method, you’ll want to follow these three guidelines. However, it should be mentioned that the very concept of cold storage fails in comparison to using an active hard drive, or even your very own cloud solution. Ideally, you’ll want to use the cloud for your data storage and backup needs for several reasons:

  • It makes the files easily accessible.
  • It’s secure.
  • It’s affordable.
  • It frees up clutter caused by old equipment.
  • It’s an adaptable technology that changes with the times. For example, how many hoops would you have to jump through in order to access your old ZIP drive files?

If you’re ready to take advantage of the cloud for your data storage purposes, give us a call at (416) 256-9928.

Date: July 17th, 2015, Author: Jorge Rojas

Toronto IT Support  /  Tektonic Blog  /  Best Practices  /  What Happens to a Hard Drive When It’s Stored Away for Several Years?