Backblaze is a company that has been performing data backups to hard drives for several years. Their server rooms consist of literally thousands of hard drives, which gives them a unique opportunity to study drive lifetimes.
Backblaze also studies failure rates of hard drives by model number and manufacturer and publishes a quarterly report. In a study they did in 2013, their data showed that after 4 years of use, 20% of all hard drives failed. They estimated that after 6 years, half of all hard drives in use worldwide would fail.
I have a customer who is still doing her company bookkeeping on a 12-year-old hard drive. I had another customer recently give me a 20-year-old computer running Windows XP and its hard drive fired right up. So obviously, many drives will run for much longer than 6 years without having any major issues. But let’s remember that hard drives are mechanical devices that will all fail eventually, so a current backup is a good idea too.
If a drive does fail, you can sometimes recover data from the damaged drive, but it can be an expensive and time-consuming process. It’s a LOT easier and much less expensive to back up your files and swap an older working hard drive with a new one than it is to try to recover your data from a crashed drive.
If you’re using an older computer with an older hard drive, I can replace that old hard drive with a new one and copy your data over for you. In most cases, people also see an increase in speed with a new drive.
Trust me, it’s better to do it before it becomes a crisis.