Flash drive durability vs. microdrives

The Inquirer dropped a bombshell today: Microdrives are less reliable than flash memory.

Does this surprise anyone?Microdrives are conventional hard drives, shrunk down to the smallest size possible using current technology. The problem with doing this should be evident from watching laptops. Laptop hard drives fail more often than desktop hard drives because they get slung around a lot more.

For that matter, desktop hard drives don’t have all that great of a reputation for reliability, and they lead much calmer, safer lives than their portable bretheren.

Flash memory has no moving parts, so its lifespan is measured, generally, in number of writes. A true torture test for flash memory is to put it in a computer and stick a Windows swap file on it (don’t do it). That will kill it much faster than giving it repeated swims in a cup of hot coffee.

The downside to flash memory is its limited capacity in comparison to spinning media, not to mention its sometimes annoyingly slow write speeds, but for reliability in harsh environments, it’s hard to beat something with no moving parts that can get stuck, whether it’s from expansion and contraction due to low temperatures or debris gumming up the works.

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