Hardware Are external HDDs really more likely to fail if they are not being used that often?

moonblood666

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Since I didn't know the board to posts this on I'm not sure if this belongs here, but anyway:

I have multiple external HDDs for safekeeping/archiving data (movies, anime, games, music...). Many of those hard drives I almost only plug in when I'm in need of a file on it, other than that these HDDs are lying around without really being used. Recently I came across a topic on another board that discussed the fact that HDDs that aren't being in use are more likely to fail than those that are used constantly. Now I'm worried about the data on my drives so to speak. I have to admit that the only HDD that ever broke for me was my PS3 internal HDD, but when it comes to external hard drives, even my oldest one (about 7 years old) still works, even though I plug it in once in a year.

So the question: Are external HDDs really more likely to fail if they are not being used that often?
 

CallmeBerto

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Ryccardo

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There shouldn't be much of a difference between an internal and external drive (indeed 7 years ago disks with a direct USB interface were nowhere as common as today, even now it's only the electronics which are different from a SATA model), but yes grease can harden and make the platters hard to start, or heads stopped unparked may stick to the disk - usually fixable, at least in the short term, by heating it up to car-in-summer temperatures...
In the PC world at least (excluding mainframes, minis, and the like) it tends to be an issue with the real classic stuff more than this millennium's computer products, though
 

FAST6191

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We could sit here and ponder the nature of grease, electromigration, the nature of magnetism in the various approaches used (did we ever see vertical domains?) and potential fixes or mitigations for it, all while comparing it to various duty cycles.

In the end though data that does not exist in more than one location (aka take backups) and the likelihood someone will drop it out of a cupboard/off a shelf/in a box or jostle it too much in a back pack or something will be the thing that comes to reign over it all and make such a discussion an academic one at best.
 
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