Tech Tips

January 11, 2023

USB Drives Don't Last Forever! Keep Track of Their Age Before They Die

USB drives use flash storage - safe, reliable. Unfortunately, they'll eventually die. If you use any of them, here's how to protect the data they store.

Solid-state drives of all types, from the USB drive in your desk to the SSD in your laptop, will last a long time. But like all IT hardware, they eventually wear out and die.

Trouble is, they won't warn you beforehand. You'll plug in your little drive one day, and...nothing will come up.

What if you had important photos on that USB drive? Or legal documents? Too bad; the data's all gone. And it's notoriously hard to rescue data from a dead USB drive.

Two quick things can prevent data loss like that, and you can do them both in minutes:

1. Write two dates on the USB drive. The date you bought it, and the date you'll replace it. Use a "5 years out" rule of thumb to be safe.

So if you bought a new USB drive today, you'd label it, "Bought January 2023, Replace January 2028."

2. Keep a secondary backup. USB drives make a good backup choice, but if you're storing critical files, keep another copy of them. The best options are a cloud backup service, and/or a full-sized external hard drive.

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