Do Solid-State Drives (SSDs) Fail?

Solid-state drives (SSDs) are generally more stable than hard disk drives (HDDs), but that doesn’t mean they are immune from failure. If you can spot when an SSD is about to fail, you can avoid costly SSD recovery.

It’s difficult to see what’s not to love about SSDs. They’re compact, faster than HDDs, have no moving parts so can withstand shocks and vibrations, and they are slowly creeping up in storage capacity and down in cost. If you’ve upgraded your main drive from an HDD to an SSD, you’ll no doubt have noticed the huge improvement in performance; your machine will have booted in less time, programs and applications will have loaded faster, and read/write speeds will have been much improved, too. One of the limitations of solid-state drives used to be the high cost-per-gigabyte, but large capacity SSDs of 500GB and up are now more than affordable. Sure, HDDs are currently better value for money, but SSDs offer a whole host of benefits over their mechanical counterparts, so most people are willing to pay more. But for all their merits, how safe is your data when stored on an SSD? Do SSDs fail, and if so, what is their lifespan, and is it an improvement on HDDs?

In short, yes, SSDs do fail – all drives do. However, the problems associated with HDDs and SSDs are different. Generally, SSD’s can be described as more durable than HDDs, because they contain no moving parts. HDDs are mechanical devices, with fast-moving components like the platters and spindle motor. Most modern hard drives have platters which spin at 7200 RPM, or revolutions per minute. Because of this, a knock or bump could potentially result in a catastrophic head crash. SSDs, on the other hand, store data on NAND flash chips as electrical charges, and contain no moving parts. This doesn’t mean that SSDs are totally immune to physical damage, though; a sudden power outage could damage internal components like the capacitor. SSDs are also susceptible to damage from heat, and should be kept below 70 degrees Celsius. This might seem impossibly high, but storing an SSD near other warm components could easily see its temperature climb up.

The main reason SSDs will eventually fail is the fact that NAND flash can only withstand a limited number of read/write cycles. NAND flash is non-volatile memory, meaning it retains data even without a power source. When data is written, the data already stored in the cell must be erased first. Electrons are sent through an insulator, writing data to each cell, and over time, the insulator in the cells will begin to wear. The number of program/erase cycles before an SSD will fail will vary by design; but most modern SSDs can withstand a large number of p/e cycles before they fail. Despite this, you should still keep an up-to-date backup - SSD recovery can be extremely costly. 

SSD Recovery