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Old hard drives: how long do they last?

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September 1, 2009 6:03:01 PM

Just wondering - how long should I expect a hard drive to last? In my last DIY, I got a new HD, but I use my old HDD as a second drive, with dual boot. The 'new' HDD is about 3 years old or so (80GB Western Digital), but the old one is something like 30GB and probably 6 years old or so (and I think it is also a Western Digital, but not sure).

Am I pressing my luck with these? Generally, how long do HDDs last?

I don't do hardly any video/audio downloads (so far), so I am reluctant to buy a new 'low-end' HDD with 1/2 TB :p 

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September 1, 2009 6:24:44 PM

Well any new hard drive will be faster than those two, given what you seem to do a Western Digital Caviar Green might be best if you do get a new one.

As for how long they last, it varies a lot on how they are used, in most cases they become too old before they stop working. If used intensively they will barely make it out of warranty, but for general PC use it's not unrealistic for them to still function after 10 years, especially if idling as a second drive for most of that period.
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September 1, 2009 7:05:34 PM

One of your old hard drives could last another 10 years or it could die tomorrow.

One measure of hard drive reliability is mean time before failure (mtbf). Unfortunately, that is based on some sort of statistical calculations (that I have no freakin' clue about :(  ).

Case in point: the WD 1 TB RE3 drive has a 1,200,000 hour mtbf. That's about 135 years of continuous operation. I am willing to bet that WD did not design it in the 1870's, build ten of them, run them continuously, have five fail by this year, and so declare a 1.2 million hour mtbf. :D 
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September 1, 2009 7:28:50 PM

Well all I can tell you that I've got 43mb hard drive from WD from 1991 and it still works. If new drives wont fail after a year of two they should work for long, long, long;)
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September 1, 2009 7:51:35 PM

I'd say around 10 years. If it starts making noise, get rid of it. Also, don't store anything important on it, not that 30GB will hold much nowadays anyway.

I have a Hitachi 500GB drive that got errors after about a year. It still works though and it's only my secondary drive. It's hard to know how long they'll last.
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September 1, 2009 9:01:08 PM

mitofi said:
Just wondering - how long should I expect a hard drive to last? In my last DIY, I got a new HD, but I use my old HDD as a second drive, with dual boot. The 'new' HDD is about 3 years old or so (80GB Western Digital), but the old one is something like 30GB and probably 6 years old or so (and I think it is also a Western Digital, but not sure).

Am I pressing my luck with these? Generally, how long do HDDs last?

I don't do hardly any video/audio downloads (so far), so I am reluctant to buy a new 'low-end' HDD with 1/2 TB :p 


Quote:
how long should I expect a hard drive to last?


I've replaced a couple of older HDs recently that literally 'smothered' to death. One DELL and a HP. Both caes had no intake fan pulling fresh air into the front onto the HD to cool it. Dust accumilation had 'completely' blocked every entry of fresh air behind the front bezel of the cases. Even the CPU on one the HP was so caked the CPU fan was barely keeping it alive. The dust was so thick I had to take the cases outside in the yard to blow them out and clean them. Not the only determing factor, but heat (from dust accumilation and air flow blockage specifically) will definately cause the HD controller to fail and render the drive useless. I have HDs running that are over 10 years old.
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September 1, 2009 9:59:07 PM

Expect the worse hope for the best. New hdd might fail first day (week,month,year) on the other hand old one might still last 10 Years or over. Backup Your important data and You will be safe.

Depends on individual hdd, usage, temp, etc. I am not fortune teller, I can't say for sure, and even they can't.
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September 2, 2009 5:02:14 AM

Thanks for all of the feedback.
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