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How long is the life span of a USB Flash stick?


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01-Mar-2005, 03:15 PM #1
How long is the life span of a USB Flash stick?
I have just acquired a USB Flash stick and I'm wondering how long the life span of USB sticks is. Considering that so much data can be stored on them, the unexpected "death" of a USB stick might result in a massive loss of data (especially if there is no back up).
So does anyone have an idea about the life span of a USB Flash stick? And on what does the life span depend?
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01-Mar-2005, 03:32 PM #2
If I remember rightly flash memory works more on number of read/writes than actual time in use. Also a lot of them include a self mapping section that ignores cells that have gone wrong, effectively reducing the storage as it breaks down; some manufacturers build in a limiter in to give themselves a safety margin.

The actual storage time I would guess to be almost indefinate considering the way they use flash memory in everything from cars to microwaves. But I'll leave that one open.
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01-Mar-2005, 05:16 PM #3
They have a finite life measured in read/write cycles, but that would never be reached in normal (or reasonably abnormal) use.

It is one reason why they have not yet replaced a HDD in smaller devices though, as the read/writes needed for an operating system may reach the lifespan in a year or 3.

The lifespan is mainly likely to be determined by outside environmental issues, and data can easily get corrupted during use when plugging/unplugging the devices.
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01-Mar-2005, 05:46 PM #4
Well, I think the minimum I've ever seen on a FLASH chip is 10,000 write cycles, and most are 100,000 and more. I doubt you'll reach that milestone.

As far as the data not being backed up, that's pretty silly in any case, even if the USB device is bulletproof!
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01-Mar-2005, 06:53 PM #5
Hi Everyone
Just a little note as to how long my thumb drive lasted
One cycle I know that does not sound right but it was not the only thing that died —I also killed the Volvo key and car remote all in one cycle —yes you guessed it right one cycle in the washer
New car key and remote $285.00
New thumb drive $49.00
Look on Girl friends face and loss of data PRICELESS
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01-Mar-2005, 07:38 PM #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabblingpond
Hi Everyone
Just a little note as to how long my thumb drive lasted
One cycle I know that does not sound right but it was not the only thing that died —I also killed the Volvo key and car remote all in one cycle —yes you guessed it right one cycle in the washer
New car key and remote $285.00
New thumb drive $49.00
Look on Girl friends face and loss of data PRICELESS
That post- Priceless.
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01-Mar-2005, 08:14 PM #7
Seagate make these tiny little 5GB hard disks that are an inch across and fit in the palm of your hand, you get 10x the storage space for your money that you get with flash drives and I expect they have a longer lifespan, too. They plug into a USB port the same as a flash drive.
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01-Mar-2005, 08:47 PM #8
I've accidently washed my ThumbDrive about 3 times now, and it works perfectly!
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01-Mar-2005, 08:53 PM #9
I once left a $20 note in my pants pocket when they went through the wash, instead of a gluggy mess of expensive paper mache through the wash it came out good as new. Hooray for polymer banknotes!
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01-Mar-2005, 09:11 PM #10
Read an article last year about someone who had one tested the memory cards from digital camera to destruction and they found them quite difficult to destroy. They even survived boiling for a while.

For every movie and photo we saw about the tsunami there are probably a lot more buried forever with intact memories in them.

Last edited by xgerryx; 01-Mar-2005 at 11:45 PM..
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01-Mar-2005, 09:59 PM #11
Arcadion,

Can't speak for "NZ" bucks, but the wash survival of U$ money has been true for my whole lifetime (something slightly less than ice age). Not because of Polymers, but because the material is not 100% paper, but contains cloth fibers as well.

Not exactly wash n wear, but durable!
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02-Mar-2005, 08:55 AM #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcadion
Seagate make these tiny little 5GB hard disks that are an inch across and fit in the palm of your hand, you get 10x the storage space for your money that you get with flash drives and I expect they have a longer lifespan, too. They plug into a USB port the same as a flash drive.
I REALLY doubt that the 1" hard disk will have anything like the lifespan or durability of a FLASH memory device. Hard disks are the most fragile device in most computers, and the one that fails most frequently. If that microdisk is subjected to some of the treatment that many USB FLASH disks devices are subjected to, I'm pretty sure it'll be dead long before the FLASH device. I can't imagine why you think they'd be more robust than a solid state memory.

I bought my gigabyte FLASH disk for $50, so I doubt I get 10x the storage space for my money either.
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02-Mar-2005, 02:51 PM #13
The 5GB Seagate Pocket HDD is $340NZD, which is in the same price range as many 512MB flash drives (e.g. Belkin Flash Drive, CD Cyclone Flash Drive, Lexar Jumpdrive Pro/Traveller/Sport, Verbatim iDisk, Victorinox SwissMemory Flight, note that these are not the cheapest drives around). From the Seagate product description: They’re also extremely durable, with a sleek round shell that absorbs shocks, so you never have to worry about your data. A hard disk has a greater read/write lifecycle than a flash drive, which is what I was alluding to.
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02-Mar-2005, 06:04 PM #14
Seagate's product description notwithstanding, a decent FLASH memory package can take 1000g shocks while operating, I'd like to see you do that with any disk drive.

You can buy a gigabyte FLASH memory device in the US for $50-60 almost any day of the week, so converting your currency to US, that drive costs $247. I'm glad I don't have to buy stuff in New Zealand!

When you talk about write cycles, you have to consider what's practical. For instance, from a typical FLASH device description:

Like all flash memory devices, keydrives can sustain only a limited number of write/erase cycles before failure. In normal use, mid-range keydrives currently on the market will support several million cycles, although write operations will gradually slow as the device ages.

I think you'll wear out the connectors on any of these drives long before you kill the FLASH memory.
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