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Why do SSDs fail and are there any descriptions?

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April 20, 2013 8:03:18 AM

Hello, I'm a still a bit new to the community and have been reading about how SSD drives. Some are saying they are nice to have but have a high rate of failure. I know it may sound like a odd bit of a question but what makes them fail exactly? Shouldn't they last about the same lifespan as a stick of ram?

More about : ssds fail descriptions

April 20, 2013 8:09:43 AM

All I can tell you is my experience. I had a Vertex 2 and an Agility 2, they both died. But it was because of power failures in my home, at least that is what I think. In part it is my fault for not having a battery backup, I only had a surge protector. What I've come to the conclusion is that, if you protect them they should last a long time. They simply can't handle the beating a HDD can take

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a c 602 G Storage
April 20, 2013 8:12:45 AM
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NJDiablo said:
Hello, I'm a still a bit new to the community and have been reading about how SSD drives. Some are saying they are nice to have but have a high rate of failure. I know it may sound like a odd bit of a question but what makes them fail exactly? Shouldn't they last about the same lifespan as a stick of ram?


Number of writes per cell. Each cell can only be written to so many times. But the drives and the controllers compensate for this, by knowing where it wrote to, and not doing it too many times. Wear leveling.

But it has not been shown that the newer consumer grade SSD's fail at a 'high rate'.
Some of the early ones had crappy controllers, and thus failed. Giving the SSD concept a bad name.
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a c 602 G Storage
April 20, 2013 8:13:50 AM

ismaeljrp said:
They simply can't handle the beating a HDD can take


I would take a dropped SSD over a dropped HDD.
a b G Storage
April 20, 2013 9:03:25 AM

The failure rate of the newer generation SSD's is no worse than mechanical drives.
I have been using a Corsair Force 3 SSD for 2 years now without any issues. In my opinion, as prices come down, I am going to replace my mechanical drives for Solid State drives because quite frankly, they simply blow mechanical drives out of the water for performance reasons. Once you get used to using SSD's, there is just no going back to mechanical drives.

Think about this though. As the technology has improved, which do you think should be the better part, a drive they relies on a motor spinning several disks, and little actuator arms moving all over them like a an old record player, or a drive that has no moving parts at all?
a c 154 G Storage
April 20, 2013 9:58:55 AM

The earlier generation of SSD's had some problems with firmware.
That has been mostly resolved to the point where the best ssd's are much more reliable than the best hard drives.
It is not surprising since they have no moving parts.
Here is a somewhat dated article which shows the component return rates for ssd's and hard drives among others.
The best SSD's(Samsung and Intel)are 0.5%.
The best hard drives(WD and Samsung ) are 1.5%
http://www.behardware.com/articles/881-7/components-ret...
a c 105 G Storage
April 20, 2013 9:59:38 AM

It's a new technology and failures generally fall into three categories:

1. Wear
2. Firmware not "quite ready for prime time"
3. Unexplained reasons'

Anectdotal evidence indicates that things are improving but it would be impossible to say that current generation units are this or that because they simply haven't been around long enough yet.

Making broad claims about "brand reliability" can easily be shown to also be a bit silly as over at storagereview.com, the database shows that the very best and the very worst Hard Drives in the database were made by the same vendor. Manufacturer's make different product lines to fill numerous market niches. They make judgement calls on parts versus cost so as to hit a price target. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. But they all get some right and they all get some wrong.

Here's an article that highlights component selection choices that gave a significant reliability and performance edge to a few vendors and how it's very easy top draw a wrong conclusion because two devices from the same manufacturer and with almost the same name have very different performance and reliability numbers

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4328/mushkin_chronos_d...

Quote:
Other than a few really oddball entries, SF-2281 'consumer' SSDs come in three flash flavors. Starting on the low end, you have IMFT 25nm asynchronous flash, a budget flash used in the Agility 3, Force 3, Chronos (non-Deluxe model) and a few other drives that in our testing perform at around the same level as last year's SF-1200 controlled drives when filled to 50 percent capacity. A majority of drives use IMFT 25nm synchronous flash; Vertex 3, Force GT, S511 and so on.

Synchronous flash, also called ONFi 2.x is really the first step for enthusiasts, especially now that prices have really dropped. The final flash type used is 3Xnm Toggle Mode flash from Toshiba, a form of ONFi 2.x without the JEDEC classification. 25nm IMFT is rated for around 5K P/E cycles and 3Xnm Toshiba Toggle Mode flash is rated for around twice as many. Even though we are talking about writing a lot of data for a very long time, the 3Xnm flash will still last even longer.


So what we see is that the Mushkin Chronos has the lowest speed, lowest reliability flash generally found on the market. And we see that the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe uses the highest available performance flash and which has twice the life of the flash used in other high end models . Based upon the above, it's easy to see that saying that statements below are both opposite in meaning and both true.

Mushkin makes budget SSD's with reliability at the lower end of the spectrum.
Mushkin makes high end SSD's with among the reliability in the market

In short, judge a component by what it's made off, not what sticker got slapped on it just before it left the factory.

April 20, 2013 9:46:55 PM

USAFRet said:
ismaeljrp said:
They simply can't handle the beating a HDD can take


I would take a dropped SSD over a dropped HDD.


That's not what I meant, sorry, I meant electronically they have better endurance from my experience.
a c 154 G Storage
April 21, 2013 8:02:37 AM

Very high usage in a desktop environment will still give a SSD 10 years of life.
That is long past the time when it will be obsolete.
And... when writes are exhausted, the ssd is still readable so it can be cloned to a replacement.
Yes, any drive can fail; that is why one should protect what they cherish on something external.
!