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How Long Will My Drives Last?

Let’s talk about your drives. HDD lifespan depends on many things, like the brand, type, size and the interface method used, but Backblaze found that about 80% of the drives being used in their infrastructure lasted four years. That means that 20% didn’t, most dying in their third year of life. On average, you’re looking at a drive lifetime of four years.

Now if you’re not using your HDD each and every day, the lifetime is going to be longer. For example, if you make a full backup of a Mac onto an external HDD, then unplug it and place it on a shelf in a climate-controlled environment, it’s going to last for a lot longer than four years. It’s recommended that you take the drive out once in a while, plug it in, and spin it up just to make sure that the drive platter mechanism is properly lubricated.

As for SSDs, TechReport recently did an endurance test on these non-mechanical storage devices and found that they can last for about 50 years of normal use! Of course, we haven’t had SSDs around for that long, but that’s pretty incredible to think about.

For the drives that are sitting turned off on a shelf in an air-conditioned vault, the eventual issue might be that there’s no way to interface with the drive. Just think of the old drive interfaces that have gone by the wayside over the years, and you realize that it may be difficult to plug a drive in at some point in the future. Hopefully, there will be adapters in place to keep our future computers talking to old drives.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that if you have a Mac with an HDD, it’s reasonable to expect that drive to last an average of four years. It could last longer, or it could fail in the first year of life of your new Mac (fortunately, it will still be under warranty). That’s why you need to really have a good backup plan, hopefully with multiple backups on different media and online.

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