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SSDs Have Worse Cold Storage Data Retention Than Hard Drives
Quote:With SSDs, you can’t necessarily depend on more than 12-24 months of longevity — and if you bought into the SSD craze from 2008 – 2011, chances are you’ve now got at least one drive you’ll be retiring in the not-too-distant future. High-end consumers who might be tempted by enterprise-level NAND drives need to pay attention to the brief unpowered data retention times — in this case, buying an enterprise drive really might not be the best choice for a system that remains unpowered for any length of time.

Note that the temperature range for proper storage of SSDs is far smaller than for hard drives. A hard drive can typically be stored from -40 – 70C (-40 – 158F. Yes, -40C = -40F). In order to maintain proper data longevity, SSDs, in contrast, may need to be stored in climate-controlled environments. Granted, most people likely don’t stick a drive in a normal storage unit, but this data suggests that even a few days in a car in summer could meaningfully damage long-term data retention.

Businesses and corporations need to be particularly aware of this limitation of enterprise flash. As a blog post at Kore Logic points out, there are serious legal ramifications for a company that fails to preserve business records that were stored on NAND flash. The IRS typically recommends that individuals and small businesses save tax data for at least seven years; large publicly traded companies have additional regulations to follow to satisfy laws like Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Beyond SEC regulatory requirements, there’s always the chance that a major company could find itself needing to refer back to years-old documents in order to settle a legal case. Again, proper data preservation is vital to such efforts — and for now, spinning disks (or in some cases, tape backup) offer a longevity that SSDs simply can’t match.

SSDs are amazing — and properly deployed, absolutely worth the investment — but the data retention challenges are real. We recommend everyone engage in proper backup procedures and be aware of the limitations of your chosen medium. No single storage type is perfect — so don’t depend on just one way of backing up critical information.
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