How Long Do Solid State Drives Really Last

How Long Do Solid State Drives Really Last

Here we can see, “How Long Do Solid State Drives Really Last”

The biggest concern (aside from price) when large-scale flash storage first came to the consumer market as an alternative to conventional hard drives was longevity. Hard drives were pretty well known for their general reliability, but SSDs were still a bit of a wild card.

But, years later, the SSD market has matured significantly, and we now have a lot more data on…well, data. The good news is that SSDs are likely to be far more dependable than you think and are at least as good as hard drives in terms of data retention and failure rates. The bad news is that SSDs fail more frequently with age than with extended data reading and writing, as was previously assumed.

That means an all-flash setup is no more likely to lose data than a traditional hard drive… However, keeping a data backup of important files is still necessary.

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Before we get into the testing, it’s a good idea to brush up on a few of the more technical terms associated with SSDs:

  • Multi-Level Cell (MLC) and Single-Level Cell (SLC) memory are cheaper and slower and commonly found on consumer-grade SSD drives. On the other hand, single-Level Cell memory is faster and less prone to data loss in enterprise and enthusiast-grade SSDs.
  • On a flash drive, a memory block is a portion of the physical memory. A “bad block” is inaccessible or poorly accessible to your computer, resulting in less available storage than reported and potential read and write errors for files and software.
  • TBW stands for Terabytes of data. The total amount of data written and re-written to a drive throughout its life is expressed in terabytes.

How Long Will They Last?

The amount of data written to the drive per specific amount of time, such as a day, is usually rated on three factors by SSD vendors: legal age (like any warranty), total terabytes written over time, and the amount of data written to the drive per specific amount of time, such as a day.

  • Based on the methodology, measuring by these three different standards will yield different results. The fact that there are three extremely lax standards for “wear” on a digital component should demonstrate to the end-user that is accurately predicting how long a specific SSD will take to fail is nearly impossible. We can only give a broad indication of maximum data retention, after which using the drive puts you at risk of losing your data and computer operation.
  • Several recent studies have attempted to determine a more precise lifespan for solid-state memory. The following are a few of the more well-known ones:
  • Google and the University of Toronto collaborated on a study that looked at data server drive failure rates. According to the findings, the physical age of the SSD, rather than the amount or frequency of data written, is the most important factor in determining the likelihood of data retention errors. It was also discovered that SSD drives were replaced far less frequently than traditional hard drives at Google data centers, with a one-to-four ratio. But it wasn’t all good news for SSDs: they had a much higher rate of uncorrectable errors and bad blocks than hard drives over the four-year testing period.  Conclusion: SSDs will outlast hard drives in a high-stress, fast-read environment, but they will be more prone to non-catastrophic data errors. Regardless of TBW or DWPD, older SSDs are more prone to total failure.
  • The Tech Report conducted a study on the longevity of major brands. Only the Kingston, Samsung, and Corsair high-end SSDs survived after writing over 1000 terabytes of data out of six brands tested (one petabyte). The other drives were between 700 and 900 TBW when they failed. Two of the failed drives, Samsung and Intel, used the less expensive MLC standard, whereas the Kingston drive is the same model as the one that survived but was tested using a similar methodology. Conclusion: A 250GB SSD can be expected to die before one petabyte of data is written—through two (or perhaps three) of the models exceeded that threshold, it’s a good idea to plan for a backup in case your drive underperforms, even if it uses more expensive SLC memory.
  • Larger capacity SSDs should last longer in a predictable manner because they have more public sectors and “room” to use before failing. For example, if a 250GB Samsung 840 MLC drive fails at 900 TBW, a 1TB drive should last much longer, if not necessarily to 3.6 petabytes written.
  • An internal study of the lifespan of SSDs used in Facebook’s corporate data centers was made public (PDF link). The findings were focused on the data center’s environmental conditions; for example, they came to the fairly obvious conclusion that prolonged exposure to high heat was detrimental to an SSD’s lifespan. However, the study discovered that if an SSD doesn’t fail after the first major detectable errors, it will likely last far longer than software diagnostic software that is overly cautious.

In contrast to Google’s joint study, Facebook discovered that higher data write and read rates significantly impact the drive’s lifespan… Though it’s unclear whether the latter was controlling for the drive’s physical age. Conclusion: SSDs are likely to last longer than early errors indicate, except in cases of total failure early on, and data vectors like TDW are likely to be overstated by software measurement due to system-level buffering.

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You Don’t Need to Worry

So, if we combine all of this information, what can we come up with as a general conclusion? First, when you look at these studies in order, it may appear that your SSD will catch fire after a year or two.

However, consider that two of the studies were conducted on enterprise-class data centers that read and wrote data daily for years. The consumer-oriented study was conducted specifically to stress test drives with constant use. To reach a petabyte of total written data, the average consumer would have to use their computer nonstop for at least a decade, if not several decades. Even “power users” or gamers are unlikely to exceed a drive’s warranty’s stated maximum amount of data written.

In other words, before your SSD fails, you’ll probably upgrade your entire computer.

Your SSD, like any other computer component, can still fail in terms of its electronic components. And the longer you use your SSD, the more likely it is to fail to retain data. Given this, it’s always a good idea to back up your critical data to an external drive and, if possible, to a remote location. But don’t be concerned that your SSD will fail at any time or be less reliable than your old hard drive.


I hope you found this information helpful. Please fill out the form below if you have any questions or comments.

User Questions:

  1. Do SSD drives degrade over time?

In contrast to traditional HDDs, however, the mechanics of SSDs do not degrade when only reading data. This means that an SSD will not wear out if it is only read data, which leads us to conclude that it depends on the write and delete processes. SSDs have taken a big step forward in terms of robustness with “Wear Leveling.”

  1. Are SSDs more durable than HDDs?

Because they don’t have moving parts like actuator arms, SSDs are more durable in extreme and harsh environments than HDDs.

SSDs are better than HDDs at withstanding accidental drops and other shocks, vibration, extreme temperatures, and magnetic fields. NAND flash memory is used in almost all types of SSDs today.

  1. Can a solid-state drive (SSD) last for 20 years?

Hard drives are predicted to be able to retain data for 9 to 20 years under ideal conditions. The wide range is due to the various architectures used in modern hard drive manufacturing. Unfortunately, solid-state drives (SSDs) have a bad reputation for having a low data retention rate.

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  1. How long do SSDs last in the real world?

How long do SSDs actually live? from buildapc

  1. Lifespan of the SSD for archival, long-term storage.

Lifespan of the SSD for archival, long term storage. from DataHoarder