Leaving unpowered SSDs in a warm room can kill your data fast

Leaving unpowered SSDs in a warm room can kill your data fast

Jared Newman | @onejarednewman
May 11, 2015 7:33 AMe-mailprint

If you’ve got an unused computer with solid state storage inside, you might want to back up its data before too long.

A new research presentation shows that solid state drives can lose data over time if they aren’t powered on, especially in warmer environments. A powered-off drive in 104 degrees Fahrenheit may start seeing data loss after a couple of weeks.

The information comes from Seagate’s Alvin Cox, who was part of a presentation to the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC). Though the presentation is a couple of months old, it was recently picked up by ZDNet, Slashdot and other sites.

Cox’s presentation shows basic performance requirements for both consumer and enterprise SSDs. It notes that consumer SSDs, when powered-off in 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), should retain data for about a year. Bumping up the temperature by 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) reduces the time of data retention by half. Store your SSD in 131 degree heat, and it might start losing data after a couple of days.

Temperatures in Celcius. Click to enlarge.

We’re in the process of digging into this more, but a comment on Slashdot notes that these figures are merely what JEDEC requires. It’s entirely possible that a good SSD will fare better, even in warm weather.

The impact on you: In reality, there’s probably not much risk to your primary computer unless you leave it in excessively high heat, in which case you may have other problems to address. But as more devices come with solid state storage as the standard, you may end up with some older computers whose data will deteriorate after a couple years’ neglect. Consider this your routine reminder to back things up—preferably to a mechanical hard drive.

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