My Testing of Hard Drives 10 Years Old or More

When I was researching Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos, I ran a test on a dozen hard drives that had been in storage for 10 years to determine how many of them were still viable.


One of the biggest challenges to this experiment was digging up all the cables to connect the devices - FireWire in particular - then finding a computer that had the proper ports (an old white MacBook running El Capitan got the job done).

The results were interesting. Of the 12 drives, 5 of them had failed completely. Every one of the failed drives was a bus-powered portable. In fact, only two of those spun up and allowed me to read/write data.

The remaining 5 drives were the bigger storage models that required external power to operate. Happily, they were still operational. I can't predict how much longer they will last, but they did make it past the decade mark.

Ideally, we would pull out all of our hard drives and spin them up annually. But clearly, that wasn't my practice. And I doubt that many of you have the inclination to do this as well.

One of the things that I recommend in Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos is to consolidate the data from this tribe of hard drives on to a larger, more modern storage system, such as the LaCie 8TB 2big 2-Bay USB 3.1 Type-C RAID Array.

This gives you a couple advantages. First, you have all of your archival data on one storage system. Second, you can implement a RAID 1 configuration to automatically mirror the information on multiple drives, helping to protect you from mechanical failure.

Get Serious about Protecting Your Digital Files

You can start fine-tuning your workflow today by watching Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos on LinkedIn Learning and on It's a great way to begin the process of protecting your digital media for years to come.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.