How long do USB Pen Drives Retain Data?

Just read up an article on Wikipedia about the largest capacity USB drive in existence. Was expecting about 512 GB, but found out that flash drives offering 1TB (1000 GB) have already been demonstrated at the consumer electronics show 2013. The 2TB drives are in planning and may offer about 100,000 r/w cycles.

While most of the previous pen drives I've owned went out of business in about 3 years, I read that the shelf life these drives can offer may go up to 10 years, depending on the type of memory chip.

So the question is - how long do USB Pen drives last? What are the ways to extend their lives and what type of 'chip' should we prefer while buying a new drive? Do pen drive manufacturers mention the kind of chip they're using in the drive?

Would welcome suggestions, opinions.


  • Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    Sarathkumar Chandrasekaran
    I dont know in depth but my friends had suggested to keep low number of formating operations.buying pendrives with high R/W will represent the life of pendrive.
  • Anoop Kumar
    Anoop Kumar
    I am using my 1st puchased pen drive since almost 7 years, and used it quite roughly. No problem till date. Yes the side joints are now
    Getting lose.

    Usb drive is not magnetic so I think data will be vanishned after rewriting those sectors again.
  • Jeffrey Arulraj
    Jeffrey Arulraj
    The effective age of Data in the Pen drive is about 10 years
    Dr. Shivram, Lead Scientist, Nano Technology, SRM research technologies

    Well theoretically atleast it has to store data for 10 years.

    Practically no one would have used a pen drive that long

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