Products > Computers

let's face it: usb-sticks are not reliable

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USB sticks are not reliable for many reasons, on my college almost every day someone lost a pen drive with all his/her academic work, and nobody does backups.

yeah, last year I must have seen something like dozens of damaged pendrives and lost academic work in the university lab when people plug them into the DSO to take snapshots.

Iomega zip 100MB cartridges were the mobile storage media we used in my academic days, never lost a single file.


I used Zip disks intensively in the 90s. Also never lost a file.

Then again, in the 30 years I’ve been using computers, I’ve never lost a file to hardware failure, period. Not on a hard disk, Zip, CD-R, floppy, or flash medium. But then again I’ve always bought top-quality media, always treat it well, and always unmount correctly before ejecting/unplugging to avoid corruption, and I’ve always decommissioned storage media the instant there’s been even the vaguest indicator of potential failure. That means replacing hard disks when certain of the SMART parameters rise*, even though it’s still getting a clean bill of health by its own estimation.

*Certain changes in SMART parameters have been correlated with a high risk of upcoming failure, like a sudden rise in reallocated sectors, or in the spin retry count. If I see either of those rise suddenly, I replace the drive immediately.

Although CDs/DVDs also have limited lifetime, I've never had any gone bad. I have CDs that were written some 20 years ago that are still perfectly fine.

But as I often say, the best backup scheme it to replicate your data on a regular basis. Do not expect a single copy of your data to last forever, however reliable the medium is. Replicate. That's just how life works, incidentally.

Yep i found ZIP disks being incredibly reliable too. Never seen a single fault. (Tho some of the early drives had issues i heard)

Then again i also never lost data on any of the old flash drives. the sort of ones with capacities of 128MB. Some of them even went trough a fair but of abuse and still worked. New ones not so much, seen them fail a lot.

As for CDs. They do indeed die. The factory made stamped CDs have an nearly infinite lifespan in a lot of cases. But the CD-R stuff does go bad. I had really old ones fail. But they fail very gradually. At first they just slow down a lot where certain files or folders take oddly long to read. At some point it gets so bad that the CD drive gives up retrying and throws errors. This also seams to happen gradually where some files become unreadable while some others still work.  That being said it likely depends a lot on the CD-R media, drive and settings. A good quality CD-R burned in a good drive at slow speed is fore sure going to be more reliable than the bottom of the barrel CD-R burned in a old tired dusty CD drive at max burning speed.


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