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How Long Do Hard Drives or External Hard Drives Last (If Unused)

How long does a hard drive last in storage? How long do external hard drives last? This tutorial explains how long do hard drives last if not used and which lasts longer HDD or SSD. If you have SSD data loss problems, you can let EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Help.

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Table of Contents

Two of the most popular storage devices in use nowadays include Hard Disk Drives nicknamed HDD, and its younger sibling, the Solid State Drive, abbreviated as SSD. Both types of storage devices offer reliable and quick data transfer and retention. But as with all other computer peripherals, they have a limited lifespan and can only be used so much. Read on and know how long do hard drives last

How Long Do Hard Drives Last Unused

The straightforward answer to this question that many customers ask is they can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. But do keep in mind that this is just an estimation. The factors determining the actual lifespan and proper operating duration of an HDD are numerous.

How Long Do HDDs Last If Not Used 

The strength of a classic hard disk drive (HDD) is a well-honed mechanism. Due to its mode of operation, the classic electromagnetic hard disk is less subject to failures due to wear and tear. The popular endurance of an HDD owes a lot to its working mechanism: the rotating platters and the read head never come into contact; the latter only just shaves past the magnetic coating to read the data. As long as this lack of contact persists, the hard disk can continue to operate normally, and in theory, even last forever.

hard drive disk

How Long Do SSDs Last

When used normally, SSDs have a lifespan of about 10 years theoretically, equivalent to that of a conventional hard drive. But it wasn't always that way because the earlier versions of SSD cells could only accept a predetermined number of read and write operations. This factor has changed, however, as there have been many improvements and advancements in the composition of these SSD cells.

SSD

Currently, new technologies like wear balancing have improved the lifespan of SSDs. While SSD memory is always limited by a finite number of operations, these devices have evolved so much that all other computer components will need to be replaced long before this limit is reached. More importantly, SSDs have no moving parts, so you don't have to worry about mechanical failure.

In fact, SSDs are replaced 25% less often than conventional hard drives, which means that your machine will gain in life. Although, you must keep your drivers up to date and carry out the necessary maintenance operations to actually achieve the long life for your SSD. Infrequent replacement, SSD, is again a good reason to opt for an SSD instead of an HDD.

Which Lasts Longer, SSD or HDD

In general, frequent or infrequent usage matters for both types of drives. Also, the optimal operating conditions that you can provide for your drives are the deciding factor. Moreover, how much you care for the devices by avoiding mismatch drivers, viruses, and malware, can all add or take away from the lifespan of the drives.

Reliability can be defined as whether your data is stored on the drive as intended without it getting corrupted. Considering this fact, we find out that, in general, SSDs are far more reliable than HDDs. This is due to its construction which has no moving parts. So, SSDs are not affected by vibration or thermal issues, which in turn makes them last longer.

Thus, we can conclude and safely assume that your SSD drive will outlast an HDD most of the time.

How Long Do External Hard Drives Last

Usually, external hard drives are utilized for their portable data storage capabilities, for short-term backups, or emergency data transfer and storage. These devices are designed to last three years. Most brands claim to have a general lifespan of 3 to 5 years for their external hard drives. Again, many factors are involved, and the average lifespan varies on the basis of brand, durability, reliability, performance, and how often the drive is used.

How to Recover Data When HDDs or SSDs Fail 

Whichever type of drive you choose for storage, it's crucial that your computer stays clean and optimized. What you need to avoid is that your disk gets infected by viruses and malware. Also, unexpected power loss and mishandling can cause these devices to fail. In such a case, you can lose access to important data or even the work of a lifetime. Fortunately, data recovery software can save your data (and your life) in such situations where you have no other choice.

There are numerous choices for such software. The way to choose the best software in this category is to go for the app which maintains a good reputation for performance, provides the best features and returns on investment.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard helps you to retrieve your precious and mission-critical data from a number of different kinds of damaged drives. It is a robust and reliable all-in-one software solution that will find and restore all the data which you have lost, accidentally deleted, or that is corrupted and not accessible.

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It offers the best options and features for data recovery with an easy-to-understand and use interface. Its power to recover deleted files and recover them is at par with all other leading software of this category.

Available in free and pro versions with different payment plans. Not to mention the company's fast and friendly customer support. Various tech reviewers regard our software as "an overall competent file recovery tool" and "doing the best job in testing at recovering lost and deleted files".

Follow the steps below to see how to recover data from SSD or HDD with this powerful file recovery software.

Step 1. Scan the SSD

Open EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, select the SSD where you lost data, and click the "Scan" button.

select and scan the SSD

Step 2. View the results

When the scanning finishes, find lost SSD data by using the "Filter" and "Search" options after checking the "Deleted Files" and "Other Lost Files" folders.

Preview lost SSD data

Step 3. Recover SSD files

Select desired data and click the "Recover" button to get back lost SSD files.

recover data from SSD

Some essential features of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard include the followings:

Deleted File Recovery: The software can quickly bring back the files after deletion or even after the recycling bin is emptied.

Raw File Recovery: EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard scans for and recovers RAW files from inaccessible storage devices also.

Formatted Recovery: Files are recoverable even from media that was formatted accidentally. Works on HDD, SSD, all types of memory cards, and portable storage devices.

Other pros of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard are:

  • Detailed scan of the media which contains the deleted or formatted files.
  • Recovering the files those other similar products couldn't in their tests.
  • Easy sorting of deleted files and specific file types.
  • Providing reliable and fast performance.

With our software, you get the best performing data recovery solution in the industry. It has an intuitive interface which makes it dead simple to use. Your deleted files are scanned from the media that you specify.

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What Are the Best Practices for Hard Drive Health

The lifespan of your Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD) is in large part dependent on the way you use them, how frequently you use them and whether you store and operate them in optimal conditions.

There are various precautions that you can take and the best practices that you can adopt to extend the life of your drivers. Doing so will keep your drives performing well and also keep you safe from situations where you may face unexpected hard drive failure and data loss: Some smart steps to take include:

  • Avoid using your drives when not required. Regular use and prolonged use can shorten its life.
  • Drives that are used for backup only must be used once every 4-5 months to retain the charge. Do this, particularly for SSDs.
  • Protect them from humidity and extreme heat. Using sealed plastic bags/boxes or static shields is always a good idea.
  • Never store your drives in a drawer or cabinet that your kids can open. It is also not a good idea to leave them for prolonged periods in a spot where they would accumulate layers of dust.
  • Do not subject your external drives to extreme conditions. Protect them from jolts, bumps, and dropping from a height.
  • Use high-grade and quality cables for attaching external drives to your laptops and computers. No need to cut costs on cables and lose your data as a result.
  • In case of hard disk drives (HDD), defragment them using built-in OS utilities or specialist apps. This minimizes the wear and tear on the magnetic disk platters. The read heads in the hard drive also have to move less to locate data.
  • Never remove the cable connecter abruptly from the USB port. Instead, eject the media or unmount the external drive or SSD drive before physically removing it from your system.
  • Keep backups of your data in more than one place and, if possible, replace your external drives every couple of years.

However, the most crucial factor remains the usage of the drive for its lifespan – the more you will use it, the faster it will reach its data transfer limit.

If you rely on an external hard drive for data backup, you should consider investing in new drives and replacing the old ones every few years to ensure the retention and safety of your data. Another efficient and intelligent habit to develop is to back up your data to the cloud, in parallel to maintaining external drives and SSDs.

The Bottom Line

The lifespan of a hard drive is not absolute. HDDs will, in theory, last for 3 to 5 years, whereas an SSD would work for 10 years. But again, these figures are directly governed by the build quality, usage periods, and the operating conditions for the drives.

You can extend the life of your hard drive by developing some good data backup habits to avoid unexpected drive failure and data loss. Taking advantage of cloud backup services and keeping a backup on external drives is recommended, as well as buying new drives every couple of years to ensure the safety and retention of your data.

And, if you want to recover data from HDD, SSD, or external hard drive, try EaseUS data recovery software, which can restore lost files at a high recovery rate. 

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
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Updated by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech life easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. On her spare time, she loves sharing things about her favorite singer - Taylor Swift on her Facebook or Twitter.

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Written by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is one of the senior editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. He mainly writes articles about data recovery tutorials on PC and Mac and how-to tips for partition management. He always keeps an eye on new releases and likes various electronic products.

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