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SSD’s – Solid, but not immune to failure

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Since their release many moons ago, solid-state drive’s (SSD’s) have been sold on the fact that they are not only faster than standard mechanical drives, but also more reliable. However, is this really the case?

For the most part, yes. SSD technology is both faster and more reliable than a standard mechanical drive, however, there is a downside – the user is unaware of the impending doom until the second the drive decides to die.

Unlike our old mechanical friends, an SSD has no moving parts, making it the most deceptive piece of hardware in your pc. If your old hard disk drive (HDD) was on the brink, it would be noticeable by a clicking or ticking sound, a lot of the time this gave you enough leeway to take drastic action in grabbing your data before its final journey. Unfortunately, with an SSD there is no such warning.  It can be working perfectly one minute, and then the next, it can suddenly just stop.

SSD’s use a function called erase-write. This is used to move data around the drive once a significant amount has been written to it. Each time new data is written to the drive, old data must first be marked for deletion before the new can be written. Over time this can wear out the cells or transistors in NAND flash and result in your drive failing.

An important recommendation when purchasing a new SSD would be to get the largest one within your budget. Not only will the bigger drive offer better performance, it could also offer longevity over the smaller ones due to them having more NAND. Some new SSD’s offer software which can alert the user when the drive is coming near to the end of its last few cycles, indeed a handy feature.

Another reason your SSD may fail could be due to the firmware. I have personal experience of drives appearing to be completely inoperable until downloading the latest firmware and flashing it. Your IT department, whether internal or outsourced like Priority One, should check for any beneficial firmware updates when building new PCs or carrying out repairs. Newer firmware can in most cases offer better performance and longevity for your drive.

There are many tips and tricks you can research online in order to keep your SSD running like Swiss clockwork, as long as your remember that even their watches stop ticking from time to time. Stay clear of cheaper brands as they may use budget controllers or slower NAND than the more expensive ones. Finally, always be sure to back up your data – whether it be to another disk or to the cloud, you should never have all your eggs in one basket.

For additional information on this subject or to find out Priority One’s recommended SSD brands, please add a comment below or email us direct at [email protected].

Priority One – London IT Support

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Jon Abbott

With more than 15 years experience researching, testing and evaluating the latest technologies, Jon is able to advise clients and readers on how to improve system efficiency and keep up with the latest technology.

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