How Long Will my SSD Last?

While the technology has been around for a while, it’s only in recent years that many businesses have switched to SSDs, often citing longevity concerns. But how long do SSDs really last for?

Solid-state drives (SSDs) store data on NAND flash chips, in contrast to the mechanical hard disk drive (HDD), which stores data on spinning magnetic platters. While HDDs have been the storage medium of choice for home users and businesses alike, SSDs are now rising in popularity – and it’s not difficult to see why. SSDs offer a significant speed boost, with the average boot time about 10-13 seconds, compared to 30-40 seconds for an HDD. To read data, HDDs reposition the read/write head, which causes a delay. SSDs are a type of non-volatile storage, meaning data can be accessed much faster. Their speed, along with their small size and lack of noise, makes them an attractive upgrade to the HDD.

But how does their lifespan hold up? HDDs, theoretically, can last forever, although in reality they will fail eventually due to wear and tear. With SSDs, which contain no moving parts, it’s a bit more complicated. Flash memory chips store data as a series of electrical charges, and the cells in the chips can only withstand a certain amount of data being written to them. Manufacturers use a measurement called terabytes written (TBW), which gives a guide of how much data can be written to the cells in the drive. There is only a finite amount of data that can be written to each cell, after which point the cells become unreliable.

The average home user doesn’t really need to worry about writing too much data to their SSD. The Samsung 860 Pro SSD, for example, is rated at up to 4800 TBW. To put this in context, you’d have to write 4.3TB to the SSD every day for three years – which nobody is going to do. However, just like any computer part, it’s possible for another component of the SSD to fail, although SSDs are generally more reliable than HDDs in this sense. A study by Google and the University of Toronto found that age was the defining factor in determining an SSDs lifespan, and that SSDs were replaced 25% less often than HDDs.

SSDs have technology to increase drive cycles. Wear levelling evenly distributes data across all blocks in the drive, so they wear evenly. Additionally, error correction code (ECC) corrects random bit errors, extending a block’s lifespan. Many SSDs also have SMART tools to monitor the health of the drive.

SSD Lifespan