Forum Rules and Etiquette

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This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

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What will still be functional in 20 years, a current SATA HD or a current SSD?

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    What will still be functional in 20 years, a current SATA HD or a current SSD?

    Simple question. What will still be working in 20 years a current SATA spinning HD or a current SSD?
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

    I'd say a current SSD since there aren't any moving parts, but, that depends on the brand of SSD you have. I've had my 1TB SATA HDD for close to 9 years and it still works. My plan is to get a couple of 512GB SSDs and move the partitions to the new SSDs, zero out the 1TB HDD, and still use it for backups (SMART reports the HDD is still healthy as a horse).

    As I said before, it depends on the brand, what you use it for (OS, games, programming, etc.), the pagefile set to the lowest settings (200MB will suffice), and trimming it constantly (Windows 7 and higher, and I believe XP, using the Smart Defrag program, can trim the SSD as well).
    Current retro systems:
    386/486DLC, AMS NotePro Plus DSTN
    Packard Bell Pack-Mate 28 Plus
    Toshiba Satellite Pro 410CDT, 2x IBM ThinkPad 380D (both TFT)
    iMac G3/600 Graphite, iMac G4/800 Lampshade
    YouTube channel:


      Depends on how you define working. If you take a new SSD, load data on it, and store it for 20 years unpowered, it will work fine but it may not retain that data 100%. Flash retention is reset each time you re-write a cell but the duration of the next retention period gets shorter with each rewrite cycle. But after that 20 years, it will still have much of the original endurance just not the long term retention.

      But similarly, if you put the hard drive on a shelf un-powered, entropy will still win-out with respect to the viscosity of the bearing lubricant. However, without the heat and start-up stresses, it will happen much slower. I suspect even modern drives will retain data for several decades.

      Of course the best long term storage is an active solution with constant verification checks - in several physical locations on different mediums.

      A third option I've been considering is service based cold-storage like Amazon Glacier. I already do back-ups of critical data (code repos, etc) there as an additional off-site fail-safe. But it might be the most ideal back-up solution.
      "Good engineers keep thick authoritative books on their shelf. Not for their own reference, but to throw at people who ask stupid questions; hoping a small fragment of knowledge will osmotically transfer with each cranial impact." - Me


        I was thinking more of functionality not keeping my data intact sitting idle for 20 years. I still have HDs from the 80's and 90's still perfectly functional in machines of that age.
        What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
        Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
        Boxed apps and games for the above systems
        Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems


          Lots of variables here, like environment, duty cycle, read/write ratio, etc.


            I'd be utterly shocked if any equipment from the last 20 years is still functional 20 years from now. They pretty much don't make things to last anymore. I'd honestly expect my PDP-11 to outlast either.
            Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
            Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Moog Satellite, Oberheim SEM
            "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup


              Originally posted by commodorejohn View Post
              They pretty much don't make things to last anymore.
              They didn't build things in the past that depended on a few electrons hanging around in a floating gate.
              Old EPROMs had much larger gates, and even those suffer from bit rot.
              Today, flash storage is hidden all over the place inside of systems. A FPGA is the extreme example.
              There are fuses hidden inside chips that are programmed on the chip tester when they're made, never to be touched again.

              I tell people who come by the museum and ask me how many computers can be made to work in 100 years,
              and I tell them almost none made after about 1980.

              I've also been telling people inside that we really need to go through and dump every disk and everything that is
              programmable inside of the machines in the collection before the bits rot.


                Most processors are designed to have a half life of 10 years running. Most storage media is designed to also have a half life of 10 years storage. If you expect to recover something after 10 years, about the only thing I can think of is paper tape. Even there you want redundancy. Redundancy is the key the first key to long term storage and periodic refreshing is the other.
                I have a ST506 disk drive that still starts up and read/writes data. I have two others there for backup with the same data on them.
                One never knows how long these will last but I expect time will eventually cause these to fail.



                  It's largely a matter of density in my view. I see no reason why a half-inch magnetic tape recorded at 556 BPI shouldn't retain its content for 75 years, if stored properly. Similarly, I'd expect more longevity for information stored on SLC NOR flash than on MLC NAND. It isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but it's very often the case that higher densities mean less permanence.
                  Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                    Step 1. Convert your precious data to paper tape.

                    Step 2. Then take that paper tape and lay it on a flat granite stone slab.

                    Step 3. Get a drill and drill through each hole of tape into the stones surface +5mm.

                    Step 4. Volia LONG term storage.

                    Doing this will make you appreciate just what data you have is valuable enough to keep +50 years


                      It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.


                        Well, no need to go that far, you could etch the content in the stone surface with a laser.
                        Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                          Originally posted by Unknown_K View Post
                          I was thinking more of functionality not keeping my data intact sitting idle for 20 years.
                          An SSD will last longer than an HD unless you're constantly subjecting it to write-heavy loads. Then the HD would probably last longer. But don't count on either being around in 20 years, unless you write data to the SSD, then remove it and put it into storage.
                          Offering a bounty for:
                          - A working Sanyo MBC-775 or Logabax 1600
                          - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)


                            One of the issues now is the lead free solder - will a SSD last 20 years? I wonder.


                              Originally posted by alank2 View Post
                              One of the issues now is the lead free solder - will a SSD last 20 years? I wonder.
                              As long as there is no thermal cycling, it won't fracture. Any thermal stressing and it will crack and be useless. Any
                              electrical stress and it will have tin whiskers.