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Typical Digital Storage Media Lifespans

Typical Digital Storage Media Lifespans

Digital storage media can hold everything from images to digital documents to movies to software. Unfortunately, no method of digital media storage lasts forever and how you store your media can greatly determine how long before you need to copy it over to another media format. But how long do popular digital media storage methods last?

Hard Drives

For the most part, you can expect a hard drive to last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, whether it’s a computer’s internal hard drive or an external one. Hard drives have many moving pieces, and they occasionally break. Keep in mind that just because the hard drive stops working doesn’t mean that all your media is lost. Depending on what part of the hard drive has failed, there’s always a chance that the media can be recovered and duplicated onto another storage device.

Flash Storage

Flash storage is a broad category that contains USB drives, SD cards and SSDs (solid state drives). Typically, flash storage is supposed to last up to 10 years. However, the exact length of time your flash media storage may last depends on how often you delete old media and write new media onto it. The more often you do this, the shorter the lifespan of your flash storage. 

Flash storage rated for more write cycles tends to last longer but you need to be careful with flash drives and SD cards. Because they are small and easily transported, they are likely to get lost or suffer a worse fate; like going through the washer. Make sure you have any media saved on flash storage backed up.


Blank CDs and DVDs tend to have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years but after CD or DVD replication, when media is written to the CD or DVD, the expected lifespan drops to 2 to 5 years. However, it isn’t uncommon for CDs and DVDs to last 25 years or more. The exact lifespan depends on several factors, such as use and environment, so always be gentle with your CDs and DVDs and store them carefully. CD and DVD duplication can take the information from your original copy and transfer it to new CDs and DVDs, ensuring that your media isn’t lost.

The lesson: all digital storage media has a finite lifespan so always make sure your media files are backed up. 

Diskcopy is the industry’s most trusted name for exacting media duplication because every bit is important. We pioneered media and data duplication for businesses in the early 1990s and we have decades of experience and expertise with all types of media duplication.

When you need high-quality media duplication services, you need Diskcopy.

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