Leslie in New Jersey asks, in response to “How Long Does A Flash Drive Last?”,

How long will an external hard drive last if it is constantly backing up changes?


There really is no concrete answer to this question. If you ask most computer experts, they are likely to tell you a hard drive will last around 3-5 years on average, and then the risk of failure goes way up.

However, sometimes hard drives won’t even last 2 years. There are many factors that can account for this. Hard drive maintenance and upkeep, mechanical failures, heat and humidity, heavy use, can all affect the life of that drive. External hard drives can go bad quicker because people move/bump them while they are in use or fail to power them down correctly.


A hard drive will fail, it’s only a matter of time. I cannot state how long exactly, no one can. Sometimes they may fail right away, due to mechanical problems. Sometimes, they will last 3-5 years, sometimes, if you’re lucky, they could last 10.

There are some signs that your hard drive is failing, but do not depend on these, because sometimes, the drive will just fail. However, here is a list of things to look for:

– unusual noises coming from the drive
– files disappearing or opening with errors or are corrupt
– errors when moving files
– files and folders taking a really long time to open
– computer stops recognizing the drive
– frequent computer freezes or crashes/Blue Screens


This is not a complete list, and not every thing on the list automatically means the drive is going bad. However, these are common signs that could point to a gradual hard drive failure.

~ Audra