Tech YouTuber ThioJoe made a video about ECC memory, in which he explained how bits in memory can randomly change and can lead to data corruption if you don't have ECC memory.

Here's what an article says about random bit errors:

"So the probability of having at least one bit error in 4 gigabytes of memory at sea level on planet Earth in 72 hours is over 95%."
Quoted from http://lambda-diode.com/opinion/ecc-memory

One bit changed can make a boolean value switch from true to false or vice-versa, so it seems like it's a big deal?

My computer doesn't have ECC memory, and I use it for a few hours every day without having any problems.

If "bit flipping" due to cosmic rays is a frequent occurrence, why doesn't my computer get messed up after being powered on for a long time?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because ThioJoe only makes hoax videos. So I am treating this as a question about a hoax. – Ramhound Mar 2 '19 at 1:45
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    "You're spinning the odds a bit. The gross majority of data in memory is never written to persistent storage. If you're a typical consumer, then of that data that is written, only a tiny fraction is user data, and of that user data, media usually represents most of the volume. Media is tolerant to a random bit flip." -- news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10029211 – Anaksunaman Mar 2 '19 at 1:56
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    @Ramhound ThioJoe used to make hoax videos, but he switched to only making real tech videos from 2016 onward. youtu.be/q1WVKyhBf28 – clickbait Mar 2 '19 at 2:38
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    Whether said YouTube video is a hoax or not is irrelevant because this is a legitimate question. Voting to close this post is the equivalent of claiming ECC memory is a hoax. – I say Reinstate Monica Mar 2 '19 at 4:14
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    @Ramhound This question is about a topic mentioned in the video, but it's not about the video itself. It behooves us to judge the on-topicness of this post based on the actual question being asked, not the dubious quality of a video which merely prompted the question. If the assumptions the OP has made about this question are incorrect, that's something which should be addressed in an answer, not by closing the post. – I say Reinstate Monica Mar 2 '19 at 20:34


The odds of CR-caused bit flips are discussed in the above SE thread, and as mentioned in this YCombinator thread linked in the comments above, the largest volume of data sensitive to bit flip (in memory) is media which won't have problems with this

In worst cases for the average person, the bit flip will result in an error which the system will catch and attempt to recover from. Now you have something else to blame BSODs on.

Besides hardening (like the hardware designs in spacefaring systems) and error correction (like the resilient architectures of SPARC CPUs or ECC memory), most current improvements appear to make consumer hardware MORE vulnerable to cosmic-ray-caused bit flip.

Because of this I think we can surmise that the primary reason your personal computer isn't riddled with errors is improved software design which is more resilient to small issues in the data.

That said, the primary lesson to take from this is that you have one more reason you should be backing your data up.

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