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

“If you’ve got an unused computer with solid state storage inside, you might want to back up its data before too long,” Jared Newman reports for PCWorld.

“A new research presentation shows that solid state drives can lose data over time if they aren’t powered on, especially in warmer environments,” Newman reports. “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),” Newman reports. “Consider this your routine reminder to back things up—preferably to a mechanical hard drive.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Can’t have enough reminders to back up!

33 Comments

    1. I thought SSDs only needed power for reads and writes. Like flash memory, data doesn’t require power to stay on the chip.

      Also, I’ve have many laptops that ran hot, or at least warm. “A warmer environment” is the very definition of a modern powerful laptop.

      1. OOPS: For DropBox: They DO provide server-side encryption. Specifically 256-bit AES. They do NOT offer client-side encryption. Therefore, they don’t qualify as a ‘Trust No One’ service provider.

          1. Switzerland. Interesting! Kolab is new to me. (I’d link their pricing page, but I used up my WordPress links per page limit). The drawback I’m seeing is their pricing. Yikes! ($0.55 per GB per month above the base 2GB for $10 per month).

            Related: This week I started beta testing LavaBoom email, a German response to the LavaBit email being shut down via NSA pressure. It’s end-to-end encrypted, but as per PGP/GPG, people at both ends have to be using the service. I don’t yet know the pricing for LavaBoom.

          2. Interesting. It took a “war criminal” to bring justice to a murderous tyrant who started two wars that killed two million people.
            By the way, what has current National Security Advisor Susan Rice done besides lie about Benghazi?
            In your world, the sky is green and the grass is blue. You are what they call a “low information voter.”

            1. Not wanting to get too political, but if you’re referring to Saddam, for at least ONE of those wars he was armed and financed by the good ol’ USA.

              And I don’t know what Susan Rice has been doing, but I don’t recall any major terrorist attacks in the country under her watch (The Boston Marathon bombing was a tragedy, but minor as far as terrorist attacks go). Since 9/11, far more Americans have been killed by school shooters than terrorists.

            2. How is it that you assume that because I tell truth on Rice, I would be an apologist for Obama?

              The world is big enough to hold more than 2 political viewpoints.

              Drop the red pill blue pill view of the world and think based upon facts- not pundits and talking points.

    1. No, because SSD can self-maintain, self-refresh data only when it is fully powered as it is highly demanding procedure.

      So if you are leaving your notebook upside-down in a place where it will be under a sun for few weeks, the result might be the same: the data will “melt”.

  1. This FUD is ridiculous. A mechanical drive has as many failure modes as an SSD, if not more. Everyone should just relax and use an SSD drive for their Macs and use a NAS for their home network. Hard drives remain the best bang/buck for archival use.

    You don’t need to rent server space from anyone else, nor sign up for teaser online server space. Half of them are dataminers, and most are just using the drug dealer sales model. Don’t fall into that trap. Set up your own “cloud” that you can access from anywhere. These online “cloud” vendors are a joke — read the fine print, people!!!

    And don’t think Apple is much better than the rest. Apple provides a poor value since its iCloud is so crippled. The features are so far behind just hosting your own data, i can’t see why anyone would rely on Apple or anyone else for data hosting. Synology is my highest recommendation in NAS.

    As for backing up data — if you have critical files, multiple backups make sense. Back in the good old days, the chesse grater Mac Pro offered 6 drive bays for you to insert whatever drives you wanted. It was so easy to have the startup SSD volume be immediately mirrored on a hard drive backup. That left 4 other drives for whatever media or projects you had, not including external storage. You can do the same thing today if you are willing to have a rat’s nest of wires and external boxes scattered around your workspace.

    1. This is not FUD. It’s semiconductor physics – the trapped electrons in the floating gates migrate due to temperature. Even reading cells causes programmed cells to be disturbed. NAND Flash is not an ideal storage medium. There is a lot going on under the hood to take make it work.

      You are correct, that everyone should relax – but if you store your SSD powered off – it will start loosing bits. At some point (perhaps more like months at this temperature, rather than weeks) the ECC will no longer be sufficient to recover the bad sectors. TLC flash is even worse.

      NAND requires just as a backup strategy as spinning media – the failure mechanisms are just different.

  2. I just want to know where is your laptop or SSD drive going to be where it’s 104 degrees…for weeks!

    I guess if you leave your laptop in the Sonoran desert for an entire summer, you could lose your data, but then if you’re stuck in the Sonoran desert for an entire summer, losing some data isn’t the biggest one of your problems.

    Seriously, I don’t see this as a major problem for 99.9 percent of computer owners.

    1. Leave it in your car by accident? Factory? On table by window? Electrons drain from memory cell capacitance over time and the data is lost. How many bits are you willing to lose?

  3. Weekly I boot my Mac in Recovery mode, and use the Disk Utility app “Restore” function to create a bare-metal clone backup to a speedy external USB 3.0 drive; I keep a rotating set of backup drives off-site where I work. I want total control of this crucial function, and the hassle is definitely worth it for me.

  4. I guess the data expands like a balloon if the internal temp. is high enough and leak out of the enclosure a bit at a time which calls for leak proofing the enclosure.

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