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Here's my usecase:

  • once-and-only-once copy off photos/videos to an internal SATA Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • put this drive in a well-ventilated, air-conditioned bank "safety deposit box" for safe keeping

How long can I safely store a solid-state-drive in such an environment? That is 0% bitrot, 100% success when "plugged in".

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closed as not constructive by Xavierjazz, EBGreen, Nifle, 8088, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 31 '12 at 17:44

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

The only known limitation of Solid State Devices is the number of times it can be written to. There really is no way to know how long the data will stick around. In theory when you reach the write limit of the of a specific devices and you SHOUDLD be able to read the data on the device in question. The real problem is how to access the data off the device itself. Your statements about "visible electronics" and "invisible electronics" makes no sense and screams a total and complete lack of knowlege in that area. The only real solution is to have continous backup. – Ramhound Aug 31 '12 at 16:55
The only storage medium positively known to survive for hundreds of years is printed/written data. Data printed with laser printer on acid-free paper and stored in a dry (and bug-free) location should be good for 500 years, at least (unless subjected to damage from outside forces). And you're pretty much guaranteed that the means to read the medium will be available in 500 years, unlike most other media (save perhaps vinyl disk and microfilm). – Daniel R Hicks Aug 31 '12 at 17:31
Probably only a few years. It seems to be a limitation of the design that they will lose data after lengthy periods without power.… – allanonmage May 20 at 18:34
up vote 13 down vote accepted

maybe a safely stored SSD will keep its data more than a lifetime. For sure you can add some silica-gel packs to keep moisture away. And you will cover the costs of having that SSD safely stored in a bank.

The issue here is we understand you want to keep INFORMATION inside that piece of hardware, uh? Because that is another story.

Expect interfaces/OS/HW/SW to change quite a bit during the next 20 or 30 years, to the point that maybe your data will still be there but your info may become UNRETRIEVABLE because of external issues.

Let me give you some examples:

  1. I still have some data cartridges at home that I can no longer read: streamers, TK25, Apple Quickshot SmartMedia cards and even DAT tapes...

  2. It is hard for me to retrieve properly lots of information that was stored using DBaseII, AmiPro, Fox and, of course, WordStar.

I am the guy who still keeps a floppy disk drive (USB pluggable), several computers with OSes ranging from MSDOS3.2 to Windows7, some of them with real serial ports, PCMCIA ports, Firewire400 ports, etc, and sometimes I still have problems accessing information.

So if you plan to build your own "time capsule", add to the box an small, complete and fully functional portable/netbook to be sure you can retrieve all the info you store in there.

Hope this helps, regards.


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This answer is incorrect. SSDs cannot reliably retain their data in cold storage for more than a year. That's why they're not used for archival purposes. – Lèse majesté Aug 20 '15 at 4:40

In theory, SSDs should hold their data indefinitely. However, the reality is that you are asking an impossible to answer question. People are sure to jump in with technical specifications, but the reality is that modern SSDs havent been on the market that long. There may be unknown issues that may arise in the future. Manufacturers make no claim that their media will hold data for any amount of time.

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No, in theory, they do not: – allanonmage May 20 at 18:33

The last paragraph of section 2 in Sergei Skorobogatov's "Data Remanence in Flash Memory Devices" is probably worth a read:

Programmed floating-gate memories cannot store information forever. Vari- ous processes (such as field-assisted electron emission and ionic contamination) cause the floating gate to lose the charge, and these go faster at higher tem- peratures. Another failure mode in the very thin tunnel oxides used in Flash memories is programming disturb, where unselected erased cells adjacent to se- lected cells gain charge when the selected cell is written. This is not enough to change the cell threshold sufficiently to upset a normal read operation, but could cause problems to the data retention time and should be considered during mea- surement of the threshold voltage of the cells for data analysis and information recovery. Typical guaranteed data retention time for EPROM, EEPROM and Flash memories are 10, 40 and 100 years, respectively.

It's probably significantly less for MLC and TLC cell types.

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Some recently made SSDs have ten year manufacturer warranty, others have three or five. – h22 Jan 4 '15 at 20:51
@h22 But it's not clear, if the warranty implies that you can write data to your SSD, then keep it for ten years without attaching to any power source and then retrieve your data intact. I haven't read the warranty of my SSD (who has?) but now I think that there might be some small print notice about "using the disk in normal conditions" or something like that. – JustAMartin May 16 '15 at 12:12
As I understand, unlike dynamic RAM, SSD does not actually "refresh" the contents even if powered, so it is unlikely to be any difference. – h22 May 18 '15 at 6:47
Ideally the FTL would rewrite flash pages that haven't been read in a while. Not sure if any SSD controllers actually do. – LawrenceC May 18 '15 at 13:17

There are archival Bluray discs that have a 25GB capacity (there may be others at 50GB) and are rated by the manufacturers to last 200 years at least. Not sure who to turn to if that does not pan out but be that as it may, to expand on Alfonso's answer you could copy the data onto a few BD-R discs, put them in storage with a small BD player and you'd be set. I would trust that to last longer than a SSD given possible electromagnetic events. Just my opinion as I once had several HDDs fail completely after accidentally coming too close to ionizing radiation.

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From the other side, I have once lost the content of the whole bunch of writable CDs just because they got a few days of direct sunlight over the window. They also do not look like a best storage ever. – h22 Jan 4 '15 at 20:20

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