Shelf life of cards for archival?

I make a lot of audio recordings, and I save them to SD cards from my phone or standalone audio recorder. I usually use 128GB cards, and I copy them to the PC when they get full.

I’ve been keeping the full ones as the backups, and buying new cards for the next set.

How long can I expect the data stored on the full cards I’ve set aside to last? When I Google it, some results say cards last 5 years, and one site claims they could last for 30. How can I expect them to last? Is this a reliable method of backing up my files? I’ve got several TB of data, overall, and I really don’t want to lose it.

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Hi @carduser,

Please contact the SD Technical Support team for the best assistance and troubleshooting:

Does that mean they’re not suitable for this purpose?

Are we not supposed to talk about this on the forums?

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Am I going to lose all my files?

I don’t want to call customer support and have to hear it from someone out loud.

Am I going to lose all of my files if I keep them stored on SD cards, or do they only wear out from repeated use?

I guess it is still a secret!

Sd cards or thumbdrives were never meant to be used as archival devices . CD or DVD disks vary widely, in terms of quality. Good quality disks should not have the problem that you described, and some archival grade disks will probably outlive you and I combined, without any degradation in data integrity.

Its never tested so they can never say, accelerated wear testing is not really equivalent of just waiting that many years to find out, and by that time the answer will be obsolete.

They can’t know what temperature conditions you’d subject the things to as well, it makes a big difference.

It will probably be fine, but honestly this is true of any media, even optical media can rot, harddrives may never spin up again, all you can do is mitigate risk by backing up multiple copies on different media types, preferably in different locations stored.

The more redundant copies the better. As always the rule with backup 2 is 1, 1 is none.

External harddrives are cheap and can store many 128GB cards, buy several and spread the risk, and as time goes on, copy them to newer drives while keeping the old ones, layered redundancy strategy.

There is also the option of using m-discs, optical long term storage, but its costly, and again depends on people having working optical drives 30 years into the future.

Archival requires endless maintenance to keep it fresh.