It's important to use the best practices recommended by your media manufacturer. For example, if you're using Seagate...
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Technology/Maxtor Corp. drives, go to the Seagate Web site and see what it recommend. The same is true of Hitachi Data Systems, Western Digital Corp., Toshiba, Samsung, or Fujitsu drives. If you cannot locate recommendations from the drive manufacturer directly, check with the VAR or system integrator that you're working with.
Still, there are some common tactics that can help. Keep your hard drives in a climate controlled environment within an acceptable temperature and humidity range. Also, protect the drives from electrostatic discharge (ESD) and vibration -- this is normally done in their packaging, but it's important to prevent ESD, physical shock and excessive vibration when the drives are removed for storage.
All magnetic storage media has a finite life because magnetic fields start to decay as soon as they are written. This means a tape or drive will not retain its data forever. In a proper storage environment, it's reasonable to expect that the drive should remain readable for up to 10 years. The concern is more about the drive's mechanical reliability; will it physically spin up? After a very long period of disuse, the spindle bearings or head actuator may be stiff, resulting in read/write errors. These considerations are particularly important for long-term archival storage systems, as well as the new class of removable hard-disk drives that are now appearing from ProStor Systems Inc., Imation Corp., Quantum Corp. and Iomega Corp.
Go back to the beginning of the Disk Hardware FAQ Guide.