How long do flash drives typically last?

Howdy. Wondering how many installs a typically-priced flash drive lasts most people here. I’ve installed distros about 3 to 4 times on my current one and I’m afraid of bricking it as I’ve heard they tend to stop working after so many reads/writes. On the other hand I’ve had people say you’d have to install distros thousands of times over for a flash drive to stop working, but I’m still paranoid as I only have one right now. How long do they usually last?


i’m at least 20>30 installs on my usb 3 flash drives. i have 3 i rotate, i often run a os for months on them.
i format them pretty regularly trying different os’s & setups.

the thing with flash drives is they do get hot under load & slow down.

I’ve had a particular flash drive for years and it’s still operational after all those years of using it for different purposes, even writing numerous and different distros to it. I realize one day it’s going to give up the ghost, but as to when that day will be it’s anyone’s guess.

It also depends upon the individual flash drive and its quality.

Everything you mentioned is true. Lifespan is a guessing game at best, even with the typical better known drive brands.

Paranoid is pretty harsh. If you’re concerned about losing your personal files, then have a contingency plan. You could encrypt your files locally and keep a copy in a Nextcloud community hosting instance. You could pick one from here and even sign up for a free account …

it depends upon the quality
any flash drive from trusted company like sandisk will last minimum 20 years if you dont use it
any other flash drives are not trustable

Personally i believe that any flash drive can live pretty long if you disconnect flash drive correctly. I am still using the same flash drive from 2014 and my flash drive still works as 7 years ago, maybe just slightly slower.

I have lost a few. A few SD-Cards also. But most do work for years and years. (don’t forget to backup)

Tip: because of wear-leveling it is best to not fill any flash-device over 80-90%

Oh boy, that is a simple question with two long scientific papers, one from google, one from facebook answering it. It is complicated. Don’t trust anyone who tells you from experience … these two studies are so far the ONLY data points we have. Remember: It’s kinda new. Very rough tl;dr: (after all the basics, like power cyces, heat dissipation, rw cycles, cell wear based on firmware …) have been eliminated: yes, flash is good storage, but fails. if they fail, they typically a) FAIL EARLY und b) TOTALLY. SO any good startegy should include (even more so than with HDDs appearantly) multiple vendors to spread your data on, and a HDD backup can’t be a bad thing. The articles should be easy to find on GGL, from 2020 IIRC,they also had some percentages of failure. My personal conclusion was: yeah, i’d trust them more than my typical HDD with these caveats given. they might just dissolve their flash cells in 20 years, nobody REALLY knows. But it’s … statistics. :slight_smile:

I strongly recommend Patriot USB’s - I’ve probably written 200 iso’s to my Patriot 32gb drive over the last 5 years. It still works great.

I’ve had several samsung’s purchased and failed in the time I’ve owned it. It depends on the drive.

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