[clug] Recovering data from old disks. Max age observed?

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Fri Jun 14 06:37:46 UTC 2019

I recently read the contents of a 2010 x 1TB USB-2 external hard-drive that had Apple “Time Machine” data on it.

Had to resort to ‘ddrescue’ - there were 17 hard errors detected.

The important points here:
	- old disk had been sitting collecting dust for years. Perhaps out of service in 2014.
	- I not pressing it back into service, just hoping it’d hold together. 
		Now I’ve got the data off, I can discard the hardware.

Newer disks are higher density, meaning finer tolerances, more complex engineering (surface lubricants mandatory now) and possibly more susceptible to data loss because the sub-systems are closer to theoretical limits.

	I don’t expect to be able to recover data from my 2015 disk in 2025.
	But how can ‘ultimate life’ be calculated?

Other people much have recovered data from old disks, even used disks continuously (daily or weekly), for much longer than the nominal design life of 5 years.

The contra for long lived drives is all the drives that fail early… The random factors combine to shorten and extend life.

I’ve come to realise I now have to consciously ‘curate’ my old data if I want to keep it.

Which means saving filesystem image [or LVM],, not direct to partition, ‘data scrubbing’ often enough to be happy with finding latent errors, and an intentional “collect, copy, retire” activity.

Haven’t got there yet, only just starting. Still haven’t even found / collected all my old disk drives :)


Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design 
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 38, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

mailto:sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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