How long SSD drive last: longevity of SSD

In this article, we’re getting an in-depth look at how long SSD drive last and discuss their longevity. SSDs have been introduced some decades ago, but only recently are becoming widespread in the consumer market.

So we might say it is a fairly new technology and manufacturers are still trying to figure out precisely how long it will last. Let’s find out how long a solid state hard drive last.

Table of Contents

  1. Comparison of SSD and HDD
    1. How does SSD memory work?
  2. How long will an SSD hard drive last?
    1. SSD failure causes
    2. SSD failure symptoms
    3. SSD lifespan calculator
    4. SSD endurance comparison
  3. Is formatting SSD bad?
  4. Can SSD and HDD work together?
  5. Wrap Up

Comparison of SSD and HDD

In terms of HDD vs SSD lifespan, unlike the traditional hard disc drives that feature an actuator arm with a read/write functionality and an electric motor to move the actuator arm and another one for spinning the disks, SSDs do not feature any moving parts.

This by itself is a big advantage in terms of reliability and longevity. They are less prone to get damaged as a result of a drop and they can withstand shock and vibrations in a way HDDs can’t.

Besides, HDDs use magnetically sensitive disks and can be damaged if exposed to a magnetic field. The data is stored by coding it through magnetic signals between the actuator arm, disks, and tracks.

How does SSD memory work?

By comparison, Solid State Drives don’t use magnetic discs. They utilize flash memory, usually NAND chips to store data. It’s a non-volatile memory that retains data even when the power source is removed. NAND is programmed and erased by applying a voltage to send electrons through an insulator.

It’s important to note that SSDs malfunction far less often than HDDs and they maintain their speed throughout their lifetime too.

How long will an SSD hard drive last?

Although SSDs are far less prone to failure, what about their lifespan? If you’ve upgraded your computer with an SSD, I bet you instantly felt the benefits. Your system is now loading in far less time, all the applications are opening and running a lot faster and there is no hard drive spinning noise. But, what is the longevity of SSD?

The downside of SSDs with NAND Flash chips is that they have a limited lifespan by default. Unlike an HDD, which memory (composed of magnetic discs) is virtually everlasting, SSDs have a lifespan and their longevity depends on the read/write cycles. The number of available read/write cycles varies according to the technology used.

SSD failure causes

Every time that a block of data is written to a NAND flash cell, that cell is slightly degraded. After many write operations, a NAND cell will eventually wear out and fail.

Data can only be written on a memory cell inside the Nand chips between approximately 3000 and 100000 times during its lifetime. After that, the cell will be worn and won’t store any more data.

SSD manufacturers use specific wear-leveling algorithms to ensure data is distributed evenly over all cells by the controller, to prevent the same cells from getting used all the time while others aren’t, extending the lifespan.

The more data per cell is stored, the higher the wear level. So, the bigger an SSD is and the more storage cells it has, the longer its lifespan will be.

SSD failure symptoms

Unlike HDDs, SSDs don’t have any moving mechanical parts, so there aren’t any audible warnings when something is going wrong. You won’t notice any strange noises as SSDs are virtually muted devices.

Although there are some SSD failure signs that could indicate your SSD is reaching the end of its lifespan, such as:

  • Error messages involving bad blocks of sectors
  • Warnings involving files that could not be read or written to the disk
  • Getting constant error messages saying the File System needs repair
  • Active applications often freeze up and crashing
  • System crashing while the operating system is booting
  • The computer running oddly slow, especially while accessing larger files
  • Frequent errors while moving data

SSD lifespan calculator

Generally, most manufacturers provide an SSD endurance rating by giving an estimate of TBW (Terabytes Written) – representing the total amount of terabytes of data that an SSD can write in its lifetime.

That’s all well and good but it’s an estimate. Is there an SSD life expectancy calculator or SSD lifespan tool you can use?

Yes, there is. You can calculate the approximate lifespan of a Solid State Drive by installing an SSD lifespan software or using a couple of online resources.

These websites let you simulate an estimated lifespan for a given SSD drive:

Also, like with HDDs, you can check the current status of your SSD by using the S.M.A.R.T. analysis tool, which performs an SSD lifespan check and shows the remaining expected life of a disc.

SSD endurance comparison

The endurance of an SSD depends on some factors. The type of cell it uses has a direct impact on the number of program/erase cycles before failure.

There are key differences between SLC, MLC, eMLC and TLC. You can learn further about these types of memory here.

  • SLC: Single-level cell flash memory supports up to 100,000 program/erase cycles.
  • MLC: Multi-level cell flash memory supports up to 3,000 program/erase cycles.
  • eMLC: Enterprise multi-level cell flash memory supports up to 10,000 program/erase cycles and can reach 35,000 cycles on 3D NAND.
  • TLC: Triple-level cells NAND flash memory only supports 300-1000 program/erase cycles and can achieve 1500-3000 program/erase cycles with 3D NAND.

Is formatting SSD bad?

Performing a full format to your SSD, you would cause your system to perform an unnecessary full read/write cycle, which can shorten the lifespan of the disk.

Always carry out a quick format. For that, it is important to make sure you check the box marked “Quick Format” before formatting an SSD and save it from unnecessary wear.

Can SSD and HDD work together?

Having an SSD working together with an HDD on the same computer is not only possible but can also be very useful. If you have high demands for storage space, big HDDs with more than 1TB of storage are far cheaper than equivalent SSDs and can be a great addition.

It’s a good practice to use your SSD to run your operating system as well as your apps and programs and your HDD to allocate your backups and documents, such as music, videos, and photos that can easily take hundreds of gigabytes.

That way, not only you’re saving money but also giving your SSD a longer lifetime by storing some of your most frequently used data on a separate hard drive. Thus, keeping more free space on the SSD.

Wrap Up

How long SSD drive last? It is not clear to state how long SSD hard drives last and there is no universal consensus on when it is likely to fail.

It is a fact that SSDs are limited to a finite number of reads and writes before they fail, but you do not need to worry about your drive getting unusable after 4 or 5 years of use. That’s not gonna happen in a consumer environment.

Enterprise-class data centers are using SSDs in labor-intensive tasks for years. To reach the end of your SSD’s lifespan you probably would have to use your computer more or less non-stop for a decade or more.

Even some power users or addicted gamers will never reach the stated maximum amount of data written for a drive in some years. You will probably end up upgrading your entire system before your SSD gives any signs of failure. Anyway, you can perform an SSD lifespan test at any given moment to give you some peace of mind.

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