In idealized models of a quantum register and its environment, quantum information can be stored indefinitely by encoding it into a decoherence-free subspace (DFS). Nevertheless, perturbations to the idealized register-environment coupling will cause decoherence in any realistic setting. Expanding a measure for state preservation, the dynamical fidelity, in powers of the strength of the perturbations, we prove stability to linear order is a generic property of quantum state evolution. The effect of noise perturbation is quantified by a concise expression for the strength of the quadratic leading order, which we define as the dynamical fidelity susceptibility of DFSs. Under the physical restriction that noise acts on the register k-locally, this susceptibility is bounded from above by a polynomial in the system size. These general results are illustrated by two physically relevant examples. Knowledge of the susceptibility can be used to increase coherence times of future quantum computers.