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Given the physical characteristics of flash memory, are SSDs an appropriate long-term storage medium for backups, etc.? Is their decay rate such that it is amenable to using them for rolling backups (thereby avoiding the wear issues)?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I wouldn't try it. The floating charges that are used to store the bits can degrade within a few years. The more the flash memory has been used, the more likely this will happen. (The over-voltage used to erase the cells can be hard on the components.)

Electrical storage media (these days) generally do not have as long a lifetime as their magnetic counterparts. Charge can seep away but magnetic spin is much more stable by comparison.

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Sorry to be negative but I can't think of a worse use for SSDs myself - just on price/performance alone, forget their retention capabilities. Again, sorry to be negative.

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To be fair, the question wasn't about price/performance, just about whether or not the data would stay were it was put :) –  Jeremy Huiskamp May 7 '09 at 22:02
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The technology is way too new to be used as a long-term storage medium of any kind. Every three months new, unexpected high-impact performance issues are being discovered. So clearly the technology isn't quite ready for prime time. If the data is valuable and needs to be saved, the solutions are:

  • Disk-based archival systems (yours or someone else's)
  • Tape
  • Multiple permutations of the above.
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The question wasn't particuarly about performance; more about archival quality and degradation. Generally, archival media are less concerned with performance than most other bulk storage types. –  Paul Sonier May 11 '09 at 16:31
    
The unexpected performance issues are a good way to demonstrate that SSD solutions aren't fully baked yet. If the people making these things haven't figured out how to keep performance consistent for more than a few months, do you really think that they've thought long and hard about archiving? Archiving is a discipline where being cautious and conservative is a really good idea. –  duffbeer703 May 11 '09 at 18:51
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