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When vendors make drives tougher than normal, they describe them as "ruggedized." A ruggedized drive should, in theory, be able to take a harder knock than a typical drive without losing your data. Ruggedized drives usually have tough enclosures with shock-absorbing material inside. Hard drive manufacturers do their part by adding accelerometers to certain models. When the accelerometers sense that the drive is falling, they tell the read/write heads to park on special ramps off the disk(s). With the heads parked, there's less of a chance of data loss because the heads can't smash into the sensitive recording layer on the disk(s) on impact.

In general, most flash-based drives have a higher shock tolerance (in Gs, or multiples of gravity) than most portable hard drives. As for more long-term service life, evidence suggests that a hard drive will probably outlast the current generation of flash-based drives, all else being equal. Manufacturers are working on ways to extend the life of flash media. You can expect a current SSD to last for several years, for example. High-capacity SSDs should last longer than smaller ones because they have more room to spread out the wear and tear of data writing.

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