My second video, a YouTube short, explaining the time in which Bitrot can take hold.
Okay, here is the longer version of this YouTube Short. While data loss can occur for a variety of reasons, Bitrot occurs when data on a storage device degrades after a considerable time of no use. Digital electronics use binary code, or ones and zeros, which are then interpreted by the device to recompile data in a usable form. This is very reminiscent of smoke signals, Morse code, and the telegram, where data is compressed for transportation and storage, then decompressed to regain it’s original meaning.
Solid state storage, such as SSDs as well as many thumb drives and SD cards trap electrons to store those ones and zeros. Eventually those electrons escape, damaging the integrity of the data. You should expect this type of storage to last at least a year without data loss due to bitrot in normal conditions, however, a brand new storage medium of good quality that is mostly empty can last considerably longer.
Hard drives and similar media use magnetic switches to store those ones and zeros. Over time some of those switches can flip themselves in an unwanted way, eventually damaging the integrity of the data. You can expect a hard drive to store data around a decade without being powered before Bitrot sets in.
Optical media such as CDs and DVDs have data literally burned into them. Because they are read by the computer optically (similar to how we read paper), they experience bitrot when the surface becomes physically damaged to a point where they cannot be read. Because this is physical decay they are a lot more dependent on the environment around them for their data storage capabilities, though in a good environment they should outlast all other mentioned storage mediums.
Overall, make sure to keep your data backed up. Remember, data loss can also come from faulty storage, environmental damage, and human error. If you rely on physical backups for long term storage (as apposed to cloud storage) be sure check the storage semi regularly to stave off bitrot and be sure that your data is in tact.