is it possible for new and unused external USB flash drives to become defective over time?

GMartin
GMartin used Ask the Experts™
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Hello and Good Morning Everyone,

         I am wondering if it is possible for new and unused external USB flash drives to become defective or bad over time.  The reason I ask is because I am considering buying a pack of external USB flash drives for quick and convenient data backup and restore purposes.   Realizing there might be some new ones which might not get used for several months or even a year, I do not want to take a chance on them going bad simply because of non-use.

         Any thoughts shared to this question will be appreciated.

         Thank you

         George
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Senior Infrastructure Analyst
Commented:
No, the only time they become "Defective" is when they reach their write limit.

Even then, a year, you'll be fine, if it were 10 years then maybe.
Or, if you buy faulty, fraudulent brands from fly by night vendors that you might find on amazon.com
As long as you buy from a reliable source.  Unreliable sources (think unbelievably cheap ones) may sell you drives that will not even work the day they arrive.  Some drives are hacked to display a different size in Windows (I once bought a drive that was advertised as a large drive and turned out to be a disguised 2gb drive - a long time ago and I learned that lesson the hard way) or even have the storage chip removed completely (demo drives).
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Christian KAZADiIT Support Level 2
Commented:
No, it does not break down, if stored in good conditions of temperature and humidity (No moisture).

If a key nephew does not work after being well preserved, it means that it already had a manufacturing defect.

Author

Commented:
Hi Everyone,

         Thank you very much for your quick replies.  With respect to storage capacity and number of units, what would everyone recommend for home and small office use?  Also, could some online purchase links be given to reliable sources for external USB flash drives?

          George
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer
Commented:
8 GB is about the minimum size to be seen anywhere these days and 16 GB is the smallest size seen in stores.  32 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB are i/m/o more useful for carrying video around than for everyday use.

I only buy flash sticks or flash drives from brick and mortar stores now, after having consistently bad luck with buying online.  Out of all the flash I bought off ebay (and it was more than a dozen purchases), only one was error-free and the stated size.  In one case the defective flash came in a counterfeit Kingston package that looked quite legit.

Office Depot, Office Max and Walmart all sell flash memory at reasonable prices.  It may be more than what it sells for on Amazon but it will be the genuine product and you can have it in your hand today.  $4 each for guaranteed working 16 GB flash drives in a 5-pack is not excessive, e.g. see below.

https://www.officedepot.com/a/products/5716283/PNY-USB-20-Flash-Drives-16GB/
I almost only buy online - mostly from amazon, but only if the purchase is guaranteed by them - no third party.  I have bought from several other online vendors and have been satisfied (only got tricked once and that was from China through the wish app).  I have gotten quite a few from COSTCO (brick and mortar store) and a bunch of free ones from our local Micro Center.  They have regular promotions to try and get you to buy other items in the store (it has worked a couple of times, but usually I just get the freebie and leave).  They started with 8gb USB2 sticks and now they are up to 32gb USB2 sticks and microSDs.

My best deal was from PNY, normally a brand I stay away from, but this was a 512gb USB3 stick for $79 about 2 1/2 years ago.  I still use it and it is the best one I have.  If I had it to do over I would have bought more of these.  I guess I'll wait for a 1TB :-).

Commented:
I would test out all the new drives you buy to make sure they are working.  When buying a large quantity of them (12 or more)  You may find some are D.O.A. or have errors.    I use HDTune to check them out its free.  Run the benchmark and the quick error scan to identify any bad drives before your warranty runs out. If they work, they should last just fine.

See:  http://www.efdsoftware.com/

Author

Commented:
Dr. Klahn,

Will the external USB flash drives given within your link of https://www.officedepot.com/a/products/5716283/PNY-USB-20-Flash-Drives-16GB/ be compatible with Windows 10?  The reason I ask is that Windows 10 was not listed as one of the operating systems of compatibility.

Thank you

George
Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software Engineer

Commented:
I don't know why not.  There is nothing specific about any flash drive.  They are all usable on any system that supports USB mass storage.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
another option is to buy an external case with usb 3 input that connects to sata drives, then you can have even bigger sizes of storage
here one at less than 10$ :  https://www.amazon.com/UGREEN-External-Enclosure-Adapter-Housing/dp/B06XWRRMYX
i use this mainly with the small laptop 2.5" drives
some keys have a builtin usb hub which may be incompatible with some systems. but that would be VERY unlikely. cheap ones most definitely do not.

windows 10 not being listed probably simply means the batch of keys were manufactured before windows 10 existed.

... which pretty much answers your initial question : unless you stick them in the microwave, boil them, expose them to unreasonable heat, unreasonable cold, cosmic rays, EMPs... feel free to add other nice ways to fry a chip, the expected duration of a usb key is probably the same as yours. i have had one for over ten years that survived the washing machine several times. appart from using them extensively, they tend to be crazily resilient. and they do not even loose the data in such extreme scenaris
Top Expert 2013
Commented:
and remember NOT to buy the very cheap ones - often they are counterfeit ones….

Author

Commented:
Thank you very much everyone for sharing your tips and suggestions in addition to your links.   I will go ahead and order the 5pk of 16GB USB Flash Drivers given within Dr. Klahn's link of https://www.officedepot.com/a/products/5716283/PNY-USB-20-Flash-Drives-16GB/ 

My question is certainly answered here.  Many thanks once again.

George

Commented:
Micro center has them for 25% cheaper, and you can pick them up locally, if you have a store in your area.  
https://www.microcenter.com/product/487105/16gb-usb-20-flash-drive 

I have used their store brand for years, they are usually the best buy for the size and speed you are looking for.  For me its convenient to have a local store too.  I go thru a lot of their 16gb USB 2.0 drives, making recovery drives for my customers. Cheap and reliable -- although I get a D.O.A. once in a while.

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