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How safe are Micro-SD cards vs External HDD in terms of data corruption/loss

Hi all,

I used to just naturally know the answer to question like this but now, age has caught up with me and I can’t keep up!

I use an external HDD for work, which allows me to keep my data safe.

I am wondering if an Micro SD card would be better. Certainly easier from a physical point of view.

But are there any risks with this?

Can files become corrupted or lost vs a HDD?

Are there any risks?

Thanks in advance

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9 Yorumları

  1. Micro SD cards are the worst place to keep data. They have no error correction, no smart controller to wear level and mark bad cells and record around them. The chances of data corruption for Micro SD cards and regular SD cards (basically any flash memory card) is higher than for SSD and HDD.

    SSD has an issue where the charge in the cells degrades over time when not powered up. This is accelerated if the SSD is warm, as the heat causes the charge to dissipate faster. If it’s powered up, that’s usually not an issue. You should power up any SSD at least once every few months. There is some error correcting in SSDs, and they have smart controllers to wear level writes across cells and mark bad cells.

    HDD are probably the most reliable long term storage (especially powered down). The magnetic medium stays coded the longest (generally speaking), with the exception of maybe CD/DVD.

    Any media over 5 years old is suspect to me for the most part.

  2. I can recommend you both – i store my original photos on SD card on which it has been taken and on external HDD which i use to work with, because it’s harder to lose. It’s hard to admit, but i lost few SD cards just because i didn’t put them back to organized container.

    For archival needs i have both 10 years old SD cards and drives and both work. Drives, especially those cheaper ones, should be scanned for bad sectors before use tho.

  3. I recommend an external **SSD**; The best of both worlds. You’ll get a larger capacity drive vs a microSD card, but with all these benefits of NAND flash. SSD’s are also much more durable than traditional hard drives. You don’t have to worry about fragile internal parts, vibrations, or it banging against stuff in your bag.

    Over the years SD cards have increased in capacity and improved in quality, but they still use cheaper, lower quality flash, compared to SSDs. For this reason, I don’t use them for long term storage. Also SD cards are typically formatted as FAT or exFAT which are non-journaled filesystems and are more prone to corruption. Of course you could reformat an SD card to NTFS, but you would lose compatibility with other devices.

  4. In my experience SD cards have terrible resiliency for sustained IO and generally bad IO performance as well. They are physically hardier than HDDs though. Dropping one is unlikely to kill it or even damage it.

  5. There are pros and cons to mechanical vs solid state. Neither are perfect, mechanical is more likely to suffer failure due to failure of moving parts being moved around and knocked about. But when they go bad there’s a slim chance of recovery. Solid state is more robust for portable use – I’ve accidental put several USB sticks through the washing machine and dryer and they have survived fine. But when they fail, all gone and recovery is non-trivial.

    If you want to deep dive into solid state tech look into SLC vs MLC storage. The latter is more prevalent and cheaper but less robust for lifespan in terms of writes (this is down to transistor level). Some studies show this to be not that effective but that’s the raw technology design – your mileage may vary basically depending on use.

  6. “Can files become corrupted or lost”

    The answer is yes for any and all forms of media. This is why we have backups.

  7. I’ve had a regular SD card go through a washer and dryer and still work fine afterwards. I doubt anything mechanical could withstand that abuse.

    SD is going to be very slow compared to even a mechanical hard drive, let alone portable SSD.

    Whatever you decide, back it up often. Everything can fail, mechanical or solid state.