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I have a TP-Link wi-fi access point with usb port. If I plug a pendrive or a usb hdd in, every PC in my network can access it via samba.

I'm considering buying a Western Digital Elements hdd and plug it to the access point. But I'm concerned that a permanently plugged-in hdd may break down fast.

Are my concerns right? Or maybe being plugged in 24/7 is not harmful?

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Pretty much all modern consumer electronics equipment is designed to operate continuously without a problem. You can expect an average hard drive lifetime of about three years. If it holds data you care about, make regular backups.

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Three years of running 24/7 or being used from time to time? The thing is It's not necessary for me to use this disk via network, but it would be very comfortable. It's not supposed to be used very often and I'd like to use it for as long as possible. So the question is there would be a noticeable difference in lifetime? –  gisek Mar 24 '12 at 10:18

It is not that harmful. Think of the millions of servers out there running 24/7 with little to no issue. It is more likely more harmful to have all of your data stored on one place. There has been reported issues of hard drives running nonstop having issues when moved to a different location (breaking during transmit). However, I've never experienced such issues on drives that have ran for years at a time. If you're able to get a RAID1 drive (two hard drives with exact same data acting as one) then you're going to be better off in the long run.

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