A new research presentation shows that solid state drives can lose data over time if they aren’t powered on, especially in warmer environments. A powered-off drive in 40 degrees Celsius (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). Though the presentation is a couple of months old, it was recently picked up by ZDNet, Slashdot and other sites.
Cox’s presentation shows basic performance requirements for both consumer and enterprise SSDs. It notes that consumer SSDs, when powered-off in 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), should retain data for about a year. Bumping up the temperature by five degrees Celsius (nine degrees Fahrenheit) reduces the time of data retention by half. Store your SSD in 55-degree (131-degree Fahrenheit) heat, and it may start losing data after a couple of days.
We’re in the process of digging into this more, but a comment on Slashdot notes that these figures are merely what JEDEC requires. It’s entirely possible that a good SSD will fare better, even in warm weather.
The impact on you. In reality, there’s probably not much risk to your primary computer unless you leave it in excessively high heat, in which case you may have other problems to address. But as more devices come with solid state storage as the standard, you may end up with some older computers the data of which will deteriorate after a couple of years’ neglect. Consider this your routine reminder to back things up – preferably to a mechanical hard drive.