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How to extend the life of USB storage drives

All PC users have some external storage medium, such as SD cards, pen drives, external drives and maybe even an external SSD. These devices are becoming cheaper -especially pen drives- and for that reason we usually have them stored almost in any way in a drawer and when we use them we do it without any care, making their useful life is reduced. So let’s see what you can do if you want them to last you in good condition for as long as possible.

The physical integrity of your devices and their useful life

This is quite evident and may not apply to all users, but most breakdowns in this type of device are due to improper handling and accidental physical damage, since even if you are quite careful, everyone can have a mistake. and, for example, accidentally hitting a USB pen drive that was connected to the PC and which ends up being broken as a result.

To minimize the risk of the devices suffering physical damage, it is best not to leave them stored in any way in a drawer, preferably inside a box or similar to prevent them from moving, for example, when opening the drawer.

You also have to make sure that they are kept in a cool and dry place, away from humid areas and of course from devices that can create electromagnetic emissions, such as a power strip or a mobile phone.

This is quite evident but it does not hurt to remember that external devices, and moreover USB storage media, are quite prone to these types of problems because we are very careless.

Disconnect the device when you are not using it

SSD disk

This is usually the second most common reason for premature death of external storage devices; everyone knows that they should not be left connected when they are not being used, but in the end many of us leave them connected for various reasons (you forget, you plan to use it later, etc.) and this is causing the device to be operational, with the operating system constantly accessing it.

Write operations are one of the main reasons for the wear and tear of Flash storage drives such as SSDs, pen drives or memory cards; Unlike mechanical hard drives, these flash storage devices do not have heads but instead write data in cells, which have a limited number of writes and erasures.

Therefore, leaving them connected without being in use will wear the unit oddly enough, reducing its useful life.

Don’t edit files directly on the drive

USB Connected

Another thing to avoid is editing files directly on the storage drive, as you will be generating write operations and wearing down the drive. The ideal practice would be to copy the files to your main drive, edit them there and then copy them back to the external drive, and while it is true that this is something that almost no one does, it is still a recommended practice to extend its useful life .

As for external hard drives with USB connection, obviously this section and the previous one are not as pressing as it can be in an SSD or other type of Flash drive, but they still suffer wear and tear because at the end of the day the dishes are moving in its axis, causing wear, and the heads are moving in turn, also causing the useful life to be reduced. Not so much, but something yes.

Disconnect the device safely

Eject USB

In the past, when you wanted to disconnect a USB storage device, you had to “warn” the operating system that you were going to do so so that it would stop using it and be able to safely remove it (this is still the case on Mac computers, be careful), but from the arrival of Windows 10, a series of security mechanisms were integrated to avoid data corruption that already made it unnecessary. But, as in the previous case, that does not mean that it is not a good practice to continue doing it.

On Windows computers, doing this is very simple and only takes a few seconds: look on the right side of the start bar for the icons next to the clock, where you will see one with a USB connector.

Click on it and the list of connected USB drives will appear, among which you must select the one you want to disconnect and click on Eject. A message like the one you see in the image above will appear indicating that it is now safe to disconnect the device, so that will be the moment when you should do it. That easy.

Avoid defragmentation to extend lifespan

Defrag

Flash drives, and this includes SSDs, do not need defragmentation. Obviously if what you have is a USB external hard disk drive then it is an operation that you should perform every so often to optimize its performance, but in a Flash drive it is not only not necessary but it is counterproductive, since you will be generating operations write and erase that will reduce its useful life.

Fortunately, Windows 10 is already capable of differentiating Flash memory drives from mechanical hard drives, so it doesn’t directly allow you to defragment this type of drive; instead, it offers you to optimize it, which what it does is run the garbage collection systems and others to optimize their performance, but it does not defragment them in any case.

Make regular backups

Even if you take the greatest care with your external storage devices, it is worth remembering that they can suffer accidents and that it is always good to have a backup of your most important files for what could happen. In addition, with the cost of this type of units, it is not that you have to invest too much money in having a backup of your things just in case, right?