Flash Drive Longevity: Experiences

Greetings all.

A few months ago I discovered the joys of the USB flash drive. Yeah! No more wrestling with CD-RW’s or (gasp) floppies to transport stuff to work.

I started to wonder recently: how often do these things fail? I’ve been backing up, but this morning I lost one directory (XP booted, elected to scan it, and decided the directory was unrecoverable). I lost about an hour worth of work.

Anyway: how long, on average, do these devices live? I imagine they wear out eventually. How have your experiences been with these devices failing? (Not counting breakage/losing it at the airport, etc.)

Also, is there any software-related thing I should be doing to maintain it?

Thanks in advance.

Previous thread on the subject

Thanks for the link. I searched. I did. I searched for “flash drive” in the title. That thread did not come up.

Which also teaches me something about the hamsters.

My anecdotal info:

I’ve got two flash drives: a no-name 64 Meg that’s about two years old, and an Apacer 256 Meg that I’ve had about four months. Both have worked fine with no problems, and I’ve not lost any files written to them, even if they remain on the drive for months. I tend to use them only for file transfers, maybe 10-15 times a month, and never store anything on them that I don’t have saved elsewhere.

One thing I’ve noticed in both cases is that the available capacity is less than the rated cap: currently 54 megs for the ‘64 meg’ drive, 245 Meg for the ‘256 meg’ drive. I haven’t worked out whether the capacities have somehow degraded over time or whether this condition was present at purchase.

Just for comparitive purposes, I also keep two 256 Meg Secure Digital cards for my digital cameras. The first two I bought about a year and a half ago. One was a no-name brand that failed after only recording/erasing about 400 photos and making about 20 transfers. The current pair, one a Kodak and the other a Sandisk that I bought to replace the failed card, have so far recorded/erased maybe 1200 photos between them without problems.