Ssd lifespan: how long does a solid state disk last??

SSDs are fast, quiet and compact in size. As they no mechanical components In certain application scenarios, they are considered to be more robust than conventional HDDs. However, you will find a limited lifespan said to be. Is that right? We explain how long SSDs last, how their lifespan is extended and which warning signals indicate an imminent failure.

How long does an SSD last??

SSD technology today Mature, even if there were premature failures in the first period after the market launch of flash memories. Sudden defects are relatively rare over the years – especially in the first few weeks, when production errors from the factory become apparent, for example. According to current Failure statistics SSDs are generally more reliable in practice than classic HDDs.

SSD vs. HDD: There are other differences between the two storage technologies than just lifespan. SSDs and HDDs also differ from each other in terms of performance and ultimately price. So depending on the usage scenario you should choose the right technology.

Still, the flash cells that electronically store data on an SSD storage, unlike traditional magnetic storage, have a clearly have a specific lifespan. After a limited number of write-erase cycles, it becomes critical, because the flash memory of an SSD by each writing process ages. The manufacturers usually give 1000 to 100.000 write and erase operations.

The considerable range of SSD lifetimes is related to Different storage technologies together:

  • Particularly long life Single-level cell SSDs (SLC), which however can only store 1 bit per memory cell. They can withstand up to 100.000 write cycles per cell and are considered particularly fast, durable and fail-safe.
  • Multi-level cell SSDs (MLC) have higher storage density and can store 2 bits per flash cell. Compared to the SLC type, they are less expensive, but only tolerate up to 10.000 write cycles per cell.
  • Triple-level cell SSDs (TLC) can hold 3 bits of information per memory cell. However, at the same time, the life expectancy also drops to up to 3000 memory cycles per cell.
  • At Quad-Level Cell SSDs (QLC), four bits of information are accommodated per cell. Falling cost, more storage capacity and higher storage density are also associated with a shorter life span for this type. Manufacturers usually guarantee only 1000 writing or. Erasure cycles per cell.

Although the range in SSD life is considerable: with moderate use, all SSD types have a sufficiently high life expectancy (with deductions also the QLC-SSDs).

TBW value

The SSD life span is customarily referred to in the industry as TBW value declares. TBW is the abbreviation for Total Bytes Written, i.e. the total number of bytes that can be written to an SSD. SSD manufacturers today often state a lifetime (guaranteed write volume) of 256 TBW. With an average PC use, for example, around 80 TBW can occur within 10 years. In the usage scenario "moderate eight-hour weekday use as an office PC" (word processing, surfing the net, checking mails, occasional streaming, some larger downloads as well as smaller backup and copy actions, but no high continuous load), the hard disk would then have an predicted life expectancy of ca. 32 years.

In Long-term tests, Since SSDs are consistently described with special algorithms, it has also turned out that manufacturers usually rate SSD lifetimes rather conservatively. Even inexpensive SSDs exceed the write limit of manufacturers with ease.

The numbers make clear that the lifetime of an SSD in normal everyday use hardly a limiting factor represents. An example SSD from Intel is still classified as completely intact by the monitoring tool HD-Sentinel after almost 10 years of use (performance value: 100%, overall condition: 98%). More likely than a failure would be a technical failure Defect of the installed control electronics (controller) or a replacement due to insufficient memory capacity.

Drive-Writes-Per-Day (DWPD value)

However, if you play a large image backup on an SSD every day (e.g. B. 170 GB to a 180 GB disk), then it can actually be already after a few years become cramped. With a view to heavier continuous use, SSDs are often given a DWPD value stated: The manufacturer Kingston states a "Drive-Writes-Per-Day" value of 0.30 for its SSD DC400 DW model (480 GB storage capacity). The value is calculated with a formula that includes the TBW value (Kingston adheres to a standardized calculation method according to JEDEC workload when determining the TBW value):

In this concrete example for the calculation of the DWPD value, the warranty period of 5 years flows into "Number of years" (i.e. the SSD lifetime guaranteed by the manufacturer):

If the calculated DWPD value of 0.30 is multiplied by the storage capacity of the Kingston SSD (480 GB), the result is 144 GB. If you write a maximum of 144 GB to the SSD every day, it will most likely exceed the guaranteed life expectancy also reach. You can also use a different number of years instead of the warranty period for "Number of years", which corresponds to your requirement profile for an SSD in terms of lifetime and resilience.

What does the SSD lifespan depend on??

The values mentioned are not set in stone. The lifespan of SSDs depends decisively on the write strategy used. For this, the manufacturers use special algorithms that strive for the most efficient "write management" possible. The widespread Wear leveling technology, managed by the built-in controller or firmware of an SSD, distributes the entries of all memory blocks evenly. By not always writing in the same block, a balanced utilization and thus also a delayed aging of an SSD can be achieved.

Another measure to extend the SSD life is to activate the TRIM function. The TRIM command provides improved memory management since Windows 7. If the operating system was installed directly on the SSD, it is usually activated automatically. You can also use the command activate itself via the command line (fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 0 if TRIM is disabled). Activation is easier with the tools that SSD manufacturers offer free of charge on the net for monitoring and maintaining solid state disks.

An optional component of intelligent memory management is the Over provisioning. If the function is activated, a special operational "special memory" is available to the SSD controller. This can then be used as a kind of cache for the management and swapping of temporary data. over-provisioning can, for example, reduce SSD maintenance via garbage collection, wear-leveling and Bad block management support. However, if the function is enabled, you give up some storage capacity. Not all SSDs support the.

Also as User can do something for the SSD lifetime. Thus, you can outsource backup directories for larger and write-intensive backups to inexpensive HDDs. Also folders for temporary files and profile folders of browsers, to which a lot of data is permanently written, do not have to be on an SSD. System-relevant files, which are also responsible for the performance of Windows (z. B. pagefile.sys, hiberfil.sys), but should remain on the SSD to guarantee a high performance of the system.

In addition to the most intelligent memory management possible, other factors are also decisive for the service life of the electronic memory. Not unimportant is, how an SSD is stored and handled. Thermal problems (z. B. High ambient temperatures) and high humidity can damage the memory or cause damage to the hard disk. shorten its lifetime. Mechanical-physical influences (z. B. The risk of damage (e.g. by dropping) is less threatening for an SSD compared to an HDD, but damage due to mechanical forces cannot be completely ruled out.

Also electronic factors can have an influence on the SSD service life. Especially the controller (i.e. the control unit of an SSD) is susceptible to overvoltage damage. In addition, data loss is possible with SSDs that are not used for a longer period of time, so check them occasionally, use them briefly or at least boot them to be on the safe side. Otherwise Cell charge losses lead to data degradation. This can then result in bit errors, among other things, which can trigger a firmware corruption despite error correction and thus put an SSD out of action. SSDs should therefore not be used for permanent offline archiving of data.

Other factors include faulty flash semiconductor memory, incorrectly programmed firmware and firmware updates as well as not optimally programmed memory management algorithms. SSDs are generally a complex technology. In terms of the number of possible sources of error and potential points of attack for malfunctions and negative influences that can end or at least limit the service life, they are inferior to the simpler classic magnetic storage technology of HDDs. Of course, user error and other factors can also lead to data loss, such as corrupt files, faulty file systems and file allocation tables, viruses, accidental formatting and unplanned deletion of files, folders and partitions.

Are there typical warning signals for an impending failure or damage?

Acoustic signals, which could audibly announce an impending data loss, do not occur in SSDs. In contrast to mechanically based HDDs, SSDs do not click and clatter when they are struck. A defective controller, which more often seals the end of an SSD, is usually a silent and unfortunately also an immediate total loss.

However, who Monitoring software If you use an SSD management system like SSD-Z or HD-Sentinel, you can at least observe the degree of wear of an SSD and keep an eye on the operating temperatures. Monitoring software available on the Internet as well as tools from SSD manufacturers often also give an overall rating of the general condition of an SSD (usually supported by color: green = very good, everything ok; red = beware, there are problems). Your assessment is usually based on the evaluation of SMART values (SMART = Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology). This also includes the current TBW value and the power-on-hours (i.e. the total operating time of an SSD so far). If the overall rating deteriorates considerably over the years, one should replace an SSD as a precautionary measure.

Normal users can, in the case of an SSD problem, mainly use the Check connections. The SATA connection on an installed SSD may have come loose or the SATA connection on the mainboard is defective. At overheating problems you can clean a dusty desktop PC from the inside and thus possibly restore a functioning cooling system.

Is it possible to restore data and what does it cost??

In case of a technical defect and at the end of the SSD lifetime by reaching the write limit, a recovery of data hardly possible or at least considerably more difficult. Normal users can usually do little. If you want to recover your data, there is only one thing that helps: quickly disconnect the SSD from the computer and thus prevent further changes on the SSD that are counterproductive for data recovery. Then you should use a professional service provider in the area of data recovery contact.

Since some controllers today are also internally Encryption techniques from cryptography (integrated hardware encryption), an often time-consuming decryption and reconstruction process follows. Only this makes usable and readable data out of the saved data volume again. Accidental deletions can nowadays hardly be undone on newer models or after executing TRIM commands. The chances of recovery are better, for example, with a Firmware problem.

With regard to the costs, it has to be said that these can vary considerably. Data recovery from SSDs is but usually much more expensive than conventional HDDs with magnetic storage (if it has any chance of success at all). Sometimes simpler recovery actions are done after a few hours, but more complicated cases can take weeks and become correspondingly expensive. You should clarify the expected costs with the recovery company before commissioning the work and, if necessary, get a quote or an estimate of the costs. a Fixed price offer after an initial diagnosis.

If the costs are too high for you, it might also help to use a Recovery software. However, their use can be counterproductive if work continues on the SSD and thus the algorithm-controlled autonomous storage organization also becomes active again. In the case of electronic defects, a further start-up naturally also involves certain risks for a successful data recovery. And of course it is Recovery layman also make mistakes.

A securely encrypted cloud backup offers optimal protection for your data. Expensive downtimes and complicated data transfers to new hardware are a thing of the past with the flexible cloud backup solution from IONOS.

Better than any subsequent data recovery, especially when using the complicated SSD technology, is an preventive data backup, where you proceed systematically according to the 3-2-1 rule. The most secure are multiple distributed storage locations and data carriers, whereby you should also include a cloud and take advantage of its benefits. Professional cloud providers put your backup strategy on a reliable basis with automated data synchronization, mobile data access, redundant data backup and encrypted data transport.

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