11

I am in need of backing up some photos from all the phones in the family to a safe location.

I am considering buying just a normal HDD, but I think that an SSD is also an option here?

I know that SSD's don't have any moving parts and can survive any falls while HDD's tend to be very sensetive to shocks etc..

I tried to lookup some information on what is safer to use for a backup: HDD or SSD?

But all the information found is old (2011/2012) and most of them talk only about data-recovery from a failed drive, not actual backup purposes. SSD's have advanced pretty much in meantime so I think this is a question worth re-asking on the internet:

Is it safer to use an SSD for backup purposes or use an HDD instead?

i.e.:

I have to admit that the idea of an SSD surviving a rough "ride" is very convincing but I have heard SSD's last only 5 years whilst HDD's last much longer (10+ years before the data starts to degrade)?

Non-opinion update:

Question: What is the difference between HDD and SSD data retention rates when the drive sits unused/unread for 5, 10, 20, 50 years? Does the charge "evaporate" leaving the data unreadable?

Question can now be answered without opinions.

  • 2
    1) A SSD contains zero moving parts 2) A SSD can only survive a fall it was designed to survive 3) define the word "safer" in the context of data. 4) The data on a mechanical drive will last longer then the mechanical parts itself in most cases – Ramhound Aug 12 '14 at 18:09
  • A backup doesn't have to be especially reliable. If the drive fails, replace it, then run your backup routine again. – Jason Aug 12 '14 at 18:11
  • 3
    @Ramhound By definition, any backup isn't a single point of failure. If something goes wrong you have two points: the original, and the backup. If you're talking about archiving/external storage, that's an entirely different subject. – Jason Aug 12 '14 at 18:31
  • 1
    @Keltari Not DVDs, M-Discs. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 12 '14 at 19:00
  • 1
    For backup purposes, the issue isn't how long the device lasts in use, it's how long the data on it is readable when the device is not in use. Data on a hard drive lasts longer than data on an unpowered SSD. – fixer1234 Dec 20 '19 at 22:18
9

Yes, SSDs are safe to use for backup purposes. (Although, I can't imagine why you would want to, but that's a different subject.)

enter image description here

A few lessons we should learn from this:

  1. SSDs are not less reliable than HDDs
  2. Modern SSDs are still unproven technology
  3. Multi-layer cell memory is more reliable (but costs more)
  4. Most importantly, any kind of drive can fail. If the data matters, plan accordingly.
| improve this answer | |
  • I like this answer, but one should also note that 1) Without a power source, SSDs lose data much faster than magentic storage 2) Data lost on an SSD is often less recoverable than on HDDs [this one goes both ways, because HDDs have more opportunities to corrupt data in the first place due to head slaps, debris, etc.] – TaylerJones Aug 12 '14 at 21:32
  • @TaylerJones If my backup or archiving drive is an external SSD linked up to the computer, so it will have a power source every time I boot up my PC, is the "Without a power source, SSDs lose data much faster than magentic storage" a concern? – Abdul Nov 11 '16 at 20:06
  • @Jason "Although, I can't imagine why you would want to, but that's a different subject" - I was under the impression that SSDs are more reliable, especially because HDDs having moving parts that can break when moving them around. Is my impression exaggerated? – Abdul Nov 11 '16 at 20:07
  • 1
    @Abdul not necessarily, but a real backup should be off premise anyway. If that is your only backup and god forbid there was a fire at your workstation, all your data is toast. – TaylerJones Dec 8 '16 at 19:44
3

When you say backing up family photos, I'm guessing you want long-term, archival-quality storage. If not then you can skip reading this, but if that's the case, then neither technology is really suitable for that.

Two things to keep in mind about SSDs vs. HDDs for backups...

Firstly, SSDs are far more expensive than hard drives. People pay the price premium because of their speed. Backups waste that advantage so you're spending extra money for half the space and none of the benefit. Yes, they're more robust than hard drives, but DVD-Rs and tapes are even more so.

Secondly, hard drives usually give plenty of warning before they die and the data is usually recoverable when it happens. But when SSDs fail, they go from zero to dead quite quickly. One day they work, and the next day they don't -- sometimes for no reason at all. They also have a tendency to eat your data like some kind of bit-monster that feeds on zeroes and ones when they die.

I work in a large environment with SSDs everywhere. In my experience, they're not any more or less reliable than hard drives are. The only difference is that usually there's no getting the data back from a dead SSD.

| improve this answer | |
  • "Yes, they're more robust than hard drives" Can you explain that a little further please? Also, the reason I was looking to use a SSD over HDD for backup was because I was under the impression that SSDs are more reliable, especially because HDDs having moving parts that can break when moving them around. Is my impression exaggerated? – Abdul Nov 11 '16 at 19:58
2

It is safe. Tell the people who tell you otherwise they got no clue. A typical customer grade SSD lasts now around 35 years, if you write 20 Gbyte/day on it.

Just take a look at this SSD endurance test to get the hard facts:

http://techreport.com/review/26058/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-data-retention-after-600tb

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.