With both prices and capacities improving all the time, more and more people are choosing to abandon the traditional spinning platter of a hard disk drive in favor of the speed and efficiency of a solid state drive. It’s absolutely true that SSDs are great for performance and you can even get them in fancy portable drives on the go. With no moving parts, they’ll survive a little jostling with no problem at all.
But if you plan on archiving away some of your treasured family photos and home movies, if you plan on stashing your years of business documents away in a locker, you may want to think twice before you load that data onto some SSDs. The thing is that SSDs need to be used in order to keep working. Consumer-grade SSDs typically retain data for up to two years if they’re not powered up, while enterprise SSDs can only last for about four months.
The shorter time frame isn’t a problem for the latter, because chances are that the SSDs are running almost 24/7 and they get replaced on a periodic basis anyway. However, the data retention expectancy of two years (or four months) is based on optimal conditions. Increase the temperature, as would be the case in a hot server room, and that window gets progressively smaller. A consumer SSD stored in a room that’s 85 degrees Fahrenheit (about 29 Celsius) will only keep data for about a year.
Take an enterprise SSD, put in an even warmer room, and don’t power it on for a while? It could lose all of its data in a matter of days or weeks. That’s crazy. The take home lesson is that you should absolutely use SSDs for the faster performance in circumstances where you’re actively going to use the drive on a fairly regular basis; however, you shouldn’t rely on SSDs for any sort of long-term storage. That’s why so many companies still use tape drives for that.