SSD infant mortality

SSD infant mortality

Summary: Reports of SSDs quickly failing - in hours, days or months - are not uncommon. Is it the Internet multiplying bad news or are SSDs really worse than we've been led to believe?

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TOPICS: Storage
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Are SSDs flaky? Having reviewed SSD reliability over the years - see SSD reliability lower than disks? and SSDs no more reliable than hard drives- I was interested when a perplexed reader wrote me about his recent flash drive experience:

I had received the drive over the weekend and after 30 minutes of use, the SATA controller just died. I was in shock. I know this is not an uncommon with Flash SSDs; that is, the drive's SATA controller just stops functioning. I was curious with your personal experience, what SSD has stood as the most reliable.

I too am interested in the most reliable SSD - I tried to figure out who makes the best hard drives5 years ago (Maxtor was clearly the worst) - but before going there I'd like to poll ZDNet readers. This simple poll designed to give an (unscientific) handle on infant mortality for consumer SSDs. If the results are interesting I plan to go deeper. Poll requires Javascript and you can only vote once per IP address.

The Storage Bits take

Despite the buzz, I'm not convinced that SSD infant mortality is a real problem for most vendors. SSDs are expensive and come laden with whiz-bang performance expectations, so people may be more disappointed with SSD infant mortality than they are with disk failures.

But perhaps the race to the price bottom is hurting consumer SSD reliability. I've owned 2 (Mac) SSDs and had no problem with either, but that's a too-small sample. What say you?

Comments welcome, of course.

Topic: Storage

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25 comments
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  • OCZ-VERTEX2 ATA Device

    I've had my OCZ-VERTEX2 SATA2 ATA 80GB drive for about 1 year (or more)....No problems thus far. I use it as my boot partition, plus a holding serveral apps. I run Windows 7 Pro, Office 2010 and a few other office tools (Quicken and whatnot). I back it up with Carbonite. Plenty fast enough for me. I keep it flashed with the latest and greatest OCZ updates (I've flashed it about 4 times). My next drive will be larger and I will go with OCZ SATA3. ~Larry
    lanek22
  • Bad sector after 2 years

    I had an SSD which I bought about 3 years ago and it started giving me problem last year. The OS started crashing without warning. Ran a check disk utitlity and it found bad sector. Even though the utitilty 'fixed' the bad sector, it didn't really go away, because the OS kept crashing. I replaced that SSD with a new one. The corrupted SSD is still working , i use it as second drive to store media without issues.
    owllnet
  • OS Corruption

    I'm seeing all sorts of OS corruption on my old Dell Mini 9 with a 32Gb Runcore SSD. I can't be sure it's the SSD, but I strongly suspect that's the issue (had to reinstall the OS a couple of months ago, and now, after not running the machine for a couple of months, turned it on to find the OS all screwed up again).

    Lasted more than 6 months, though, so I answered "no" to the poll. Definitely not as long-lived as a magnetic HD.

    That said, these are pretty early SSDs. I fullt expect the technology to mature.
    dsf3g
  • OS Corruption

    I'm seeing all sorts of OS corruption on my old Dell Mini 9 with a 32Gb Runcore SSD. I can't be sure it's the SSD, but I strongly suspect that's the issue (had to reinstall the OS a couple of months ago, and now, after not running the machine for a couple of months, turned it on to find the OS all screwed up again).

    Lasted more than 6 months, though, so I answered "no" to the poll. Definitely not as long-lived as a magnetic HD.

    That said, these are pretty early SSDs. I fullt expect the technology to mature.
    dsf3g
  • Intel is my only reference!

    They are Intel but no problems. Between 6 months to 2.5 years old. I have 10, capacity between 120-160 Gb.
    reysys
  • Intel

    I have a 120 GB SSD I bought and put in the computer I build over a year ago and has been great. No problems at all.
    brwills
  • Many more problems than with regular drives

    I currently have a Samsung SSD on the PC I'm typing on and that's been working reliable, but this came after 2 quick failures from two other brands. There was an issue with a BSOD screen after about 5000 hrs with another brand that some people I know had, but that was fixed with a firmware update. I personally feel more comfortable, at the moment at least, using it as the system drive, with a regular drive for the data partitions
    JustCallMeBC
    • Samsung has NEVER made a good drive

      Samsung's normal HDDs are notorious for dying within 2 years. That is why they have only 1 year warranty. They are very unreliable and I would not suggest any Samsung brand drives (disk or SSD) to anybody.

      Samsung drives are about as reliable (or worst) as Maxtor drives were in the past.
      wackoae
      • Samsung SSD

        I'm running a Samsung SSD for just over 2.5 years now, and I haven't had any issues thus far.
        jellybean1
  • Buyer Beware, reliability & firware

    While my OCZ Agility 60 GB served me so well for about 3 years, it finally felt small enough that 2 months ago I "upgraded" to a SanDisk Extreme 120 GB. And was i ever fast! It felt faster even than the OCZ! But these happy feelings have faded in the past 2 months as my blazing-fast drive has gotten slower and slower. It now feels like a mechanical drive, IF that.

    So I finally get time to do some checking and I find an article at http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/4870/lsi_sandforce_5_series_ssd_firmware_trim_lost_and_found_performance_investigated/index.html that says TRIM is *broken* on many of the recent drives based on SandForce-2281. SanDisk is silent on the matter.

    It sure feels like we're in the wild, wild west days of SSDs. The dirty little secret is that though the performance may be great, there's a lot of room for things to go wrong.

    So, enjoy your speed, but backup often!
    bmgoodman
    • Aren't ScanDisk drives ... re-branded generic drives??

      I thought ScanDisk drives were nothing more than re-branded generic drives.
      wackoae
  • And how many 'failures' are user-caused?

    Any technology manufacturer will tell you that a significant portion of "failed" components that are returned have (A)nothing wrong with them (misdiagnosis) or (B)obvious user-caused failure. SSDs being newer technology, users need to research and understand all that is involved in making the switch from an HDD to an SSD. Not the least of this is disabling disk defragmentation -- many users set this up on an automatic schedule, and with an SSD this can cause significant problems. Component incompatibility is another prime reason for drive failures -- certain SSDs just do not play nice with certain motherboard chipsets. In other words, any analysis of a true initial failure rate needs to be tempered with factoring in the user's level of experience and (lack of) expertise.

    Reliability of SSDs has come a long ways, as most current SSDs have anywhere from a 3 to 5 year warranty. Again, hearing anecdotal incidents of issues from a couple of years ago has no bearing on the quality of the SSDs being sold today.
    renosablast
    • you got it right

      hit the nail on the head!
      beau parisi
  • SSD mortality

    I currently run numerous SSDs: OCZ. Intel, Plextor, and Crucial, and have yet to have one fail in any way. Most are system drives in laptops, all are run in tandem with standard HDD as storage drives. In terms of overall speed, it seems as though newer is faster, with little regard to cost, but I haven't benchmarked any of them. Also, the "oldest" of the bunch is right around a year old, so I have no idea what the longevity of these drives will be. I image the system once the build is complete, and try to keep essentially EVERYTHING else on the storage (standard HDD) drive. This allows me to run Windows 7 on a smaller system drive (40GB is about as small as I'd recommend). speeding up the machine IMMENSELY at a moderate cost, and if the drive dies, I have the image to install on a replacement. Since SSDs require no defragmentation, it doesn't appear that you need to leave that chunk of empty space on your drive.
    Karl Mueller
  • SSD failed after 9 months

    My SSD failed completely without any warning after about 9 months. I suppose that it was a controller failure because BIOS could not even see that drive.
    I am quite surprised that in last 15 years or so I have not seen such problems with regular hard drives and with SSD it happened in less than a year.
    SSDs are quick. They work fast they die fast. Backups now are even more important than ever before.
    paul2011
  • OCZ SSD Vertex 120Gb

    I have had two of these fail. One in a personal computer and one in a laptop. Both just stopped being seen by the computer.

    I hold out hope that some day the thing will just miracuously start working. I backup everything at work and neglect home. I lost 8 years worth of files.
    bin00010111
    • Oh yes...

      And both failed within 6 months. But due to the data on them I am not willing to send them in. No one needs my data.
      bin00010111
      • hmm

        looks like some illegal pron you've got there. :-)
        beau parisi
        • Hardly...

          Tax Docs and such. 8 years worth.
          bin00010111
  • 18% Of Your Survey Respondents Say “Yes”

    I’d say that points to a real problem. Unless of course your survey is worthless...
    ldo17