Hard drives and long term storage...Yay!


The Analog Kid
16 Mar 2002
I've decided to change my back up strategy from TY DVD's to hard drives. The hard drives will be pulled from the machines after the backups are complete and stored in a fire-proof safe.

My question: Is there a recommended amount of free space I should keep on the drives? Should I just go ahead and fill them?


OSNN Veteran Addict
25 Jan 2003
It's been a long time since I saw the recommendation and I don't know if it applies to NTFS and FAT or just FAT but the recommendation was to keep 10% free space minimum to avoid prolems with disk crashes. Also make sure fragmentation is below 3%.

Both of those old rules may only apply to system disks.

And the way technology changes I would archive a current operating system with the disks and a USB HD enclosure.

We have millions of dollars worth of "old data" that we can no longer access at work. The storage media is greatly outliving the technology required to read and execute it. :(


Political Access
5 Dec 2001
I am all for hard drives as a storage medium, as generally they last longer than DVD/CD backup media (I have CD's from about 3 years ago that I am unable to read anymore because they went "bad").

You should be able to fill them up without a problem. Using NTFS. Since you are going to be filling them sequentially fragmentation should be really low, fragmentation occurs only when the device is moving files around, or removing them and writing new files to small but contiguous space, and spreading the files around.

There are certain limits that you will want to watch for, but Windows will warn you when you approach them, I believe it requires at least 500 MB or so free space.

As for 10% free space for disk crashes? You are joking right? If the disk is crashing it is time to buy a new one :p. All the new hard drives have extra space on them that is available to write re-allocated sectors to. However SMART will warn you if there are too many re-allocated sectors as that is generally what happens before the drive fails miserably.


The Analog Kid
16 Mar 2002
The lowest I've gone down to is 386 MB free and as that was just an additional storage disk I didn't have a problem.

I guess I'll just fill them up!


hardware monkey
8 May 2002
i have filled a non-system drive to the absolute brim before without any problems. :)

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