I saved all my important digital photos and Microsoft Word documents on CDs. Then I read that a burned CD might last only a few years, so I put the data on a USB flash drive. But what's the lifetime of a flash drive?
Use or lose files on your flash drives, which are really computer chips inside finger-sized packages. If you don't update or view the files, the electrical charge representing your stored data will disappear after about 10 years, said Brandon Stevens, a senior technology manager at computer storage manufacturer Kingston Technology in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Using the flash drive isn't enough. You must call up, or update, each individual file and the electrical charge will be renewed and you're good for another 10 years, Stevens said. Data renewed regularly will last almost indefinitely, he said. (By comparison, data stored on CDs last 10 to 20 years.)
But another factor limits the life of USB flash drives: The physical wear and tear they undergo from being carried on key chains and occasionally going through the washing machine inside a pocket. As a result, Kingston will guarantee its USB flash drives for only five years, Stevens said. By contrast, the company's flash cards, typically protected inside devices such as digital cameras or phones, are guaranteed for the life of the card, he said.
News Source: Star Tribune