SSD the Truths and Myths

With the massive increase in data transfer speeds, combined with the drop in price per gigabyte, the uptake of the SSD drive has unsurprisingly been rapid. They appeared to be the answer we had been looking for, touted as super reliable, faster data transfer rates and use less power than traditional hard disk drives.

Much has been made of how data recovery from SSD, where development is moving rapidly, being a complex problem during technology changes, making it most sensible to use them for installing the operating system and applications, rather than storing any critical user data. The high duty cycle numbers suggest that even when used in for intensive IO applications they should not fail before the end of the average computer lifespan.

SSD Lifetime

Contrary to the popular belief, even though each memory cell is only good for a certain number of write cycles, this is not the significant factor governing the lifespan of an SDD. In research published earlier this year, it appears that an SSD is not damaged through usage, but primarily through its age.

Even more worrying is that the research has not thus far reached a conclusion on the causes of these failures. For most users it is also alarming how many read errors an SSD has, most of which are transparently corrected by the drive.

Data Loss Through Sudden Power Loss

There were many stories of data being lost as the result of a power surge or sudden power outage. Some of the earliest first and second generation drives did not employ enough protection to write any pending data to the memory chips. Such issues, unless you are still using an old SSD which had this problem, should no longer be an issue.

SSD and Long Term Storage

Alarming stories appeared last year, stemming from research which showed an enterprise level SDD stored at a high temperature with no power, lost data in only 7 days. While this is significant research, in most real world situations, loss of data from an unpowered SSD is extremely unlikely.

However, if they should not be used for long term storage media, as the average data retention time for an enterprise level SSD is about a year while consumer drives this is two years. This makes them a poor choice for storing data which may not be required for several years, making other storage solutions a wiser choice.

SSD and Data Recovery

The research earlier about SSD failures, was largely ignored as most people seemed to ignored the significant issue, only focussing on the fact that the number of failures has increased with more drives of this type being used. What should have been the focal point, is how a much higher proportion of SSD failures resulted significant levels of data loss, when compared to traditional hard disk drives.

Although data recovery from an SSD is a much more complex, it does not account for increased occurrence of data loss. It appears that when an SSD fails, it is usually associated with multiple read failures which cannot be corrected by the drive or during the data recovery process.

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