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I stored my portable external hard drives next to some tape cassettes. I believe hard drives are meant to last an average of five years but some of my files which were perfectly fine before became corrupted and unreadable.

I've had the hard drives for 1-2 years. Could the magnetized tape in cassettes possibly be damaging the hard drives and the data? The drives are Western Digital My Passport SE.

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cassette tapes still exist? ;) – Keltari Jul 16 '12 at 6:59
"became corrupted" - That is not an observation, but rather a conclusion by you. And probably an incorrect conclusion. What evidence do you have that the data on the HDD is "corrupted"? Based on your comment that this HDD has not really just been sitting on a shelf but rather carried around, leads to the possibility that this HDD could easily have been subjected to shock and vibration to damage it. That could render data on the HDD unreadable, which is not the same as corruption (i.e. the data has been altered). – sawdust Jul 16 '12 at 8:04

Right inside your hard drive there are a pair of VERY powerful, strong rare earth magnets. Your hard drive also has a metal case which magnetically shields the insides. Its significantly more likely that your tapes would be corrupted long before the hard drives, with their plastic cases and exposed magnetic ribbons.

Chances are there's a problem elsewhere.

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Thanks, any suggestions regarding the corrupted files? – tora6 Jul 16 '12 at 7:01
OS level corruption, hardware failure, cosmic rays... – Journeyman Geek Jul 16 '12 at 7:02
The biggest threat to any "cassette" tape is the tape itself. People forget the ribbon is magnetized and every layer of the tape has magnetized layers above and below. Given enough time, cassette tapes will erase themselves. In the "olden days" computer operators would have copy tapes repeatedly to prevent data loss. Modern tapes, like ones used for backups use better technologies and will last longer, but eventually the tapes will fail. – Keltari Jul 16 '12 at 7:03
Or fungus. or a degauser – Journeyman Geek Jul 16 '12 at 7:24
Is it possible for fungus to get into the hard drive? – tora6 Jul 16 '12 at 7:25

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