Multiple users have reported that the health of the Samsung 990 Pro, one of the best SSDs, is deteriorating at a breakneck pace. The problem seems to affect the entire Samsung 990 Pro lineup regardless of the capacity, with some drives showing over 10% less health in a matter of days or weeks.
Logically, the health of an SSD is at 100% if you check it with an SSD utility, such as CrystalDiskInfo, when you first take it out of the box. But, eventually, the number goes down when you start writing data to the drive. The problem is when that value starts decreasing exponentially, and you haven't been writing any data to the drive.
The Samsung 990 Pro health degradation issue started brewing on the Overclock.net forums (opens in new tab) last month, and more user reports have been emerging every day. The original poster, which owns the 2TB drive, lost 7% in one month with just 6,641GB written to the drive. Another Samsung 990 Pro owner reported a 12% deterioration since he installed his SSD in December. So far, he has written 27.9TB to the drive and noticed the health falling around 1% every week.
One Redditor (opens in new tab), who saw his Samsung 990 Pro 2TB lifespan go down 6% in two weeks, sent his SSD to Samsung for RMA. However, the company reportedly returned the same drive claiming that it didn't find any defects, and it formatted the drive and restored it to factory settings. Subsequently, Samsung has offered the Redditor a replacement and will try to replicate the problem. The worst case we've seen so far comes from Twitter user Neil Schofield (opens in new tab), who shared a screenshot of his Samsung 990 Pro with a 64% health status and only 2TB of total host writes.
The numbers don't add up. Samsung rates the Samsung 990 Pro 2TB for 1,200 TBW (TeraBytes Written). Therefore, 1% equals to 12TB of written data. A 93% health drive means you had to write about 84TB of data. So, if you're an average user, the drive should still be close to pristine, not 96% or 93% healthy.
In the meantime, it's uncertain if there's an actual hardware issue with the Samsung 990 Pro that causes rapid health degradation or whether the reported health values are an error on the software side. However, the SSD software obviously grabs the data from the S.M.A.R.T health parameters, so the information should be solid. Moreover, users have confirmed different software, such as Samsung Magician, CrystalDiskInfo, and Hard Disk Sentinel, are reporting the same value. Nonetheless, we can't discard the possibility of it being a firmware or reporting bug. Oddly, Samsung Magician's short or extended SMART self-test would not run on the Samsung 990 Pro.
There are not many clues to go on for the moment. The only common ground is that the affected SSDs are drives for storing the operating system. So it's plausible that Microsoft Windows may not be playing nice with the Samsung 990 Pro. Alternatively, specific batches of drives may just be defective. It has happened before (opens in new tab).
It was big news in China that many Samsung 980 Pro owners had reported SSD failures from six months to a year of usage due to bad blocks. Other reportedly faulty drives include the Samsung 970 Evo Plus and the OEM drives, like the PM9A1 and PM981A. We saw a few reports outside China, but the problem wasn't widespread.
With the previous fiasco, users could check if the drive was affected by monitoring two specific S.M.A.R.T values. Unfortunately, this gave rise to the "0E" fiasco (opens in new tab), where users likely have a faulty drive if the entry isn't zero. It's not the first time that S.M.A.R.T parameters have given us a head up of potential failing drives. Therefore, this health degradation issue with the Samsung 990 Pro certainly merits an investigation on Samsung's part.