SSD infant mortality II

SSD infant mortality II

Summary: Results of the SSD infant mortality poll were startling. Consumer SSDs may have bigger problems than thought.

TOPICS: Storage

Based on what little statistical information released publicly about SST mortality, I expected the actual number of consumers experiencing SSD failure would be around 5%. But the results were much higher: 17% of over 600 respondents reported SST infant mortality.

Even accounting for the extra emotional disappointment that an early failure causes this number seems substantially higher than any previously published information would suggest. To recap, here's the question and the results from the last time I checked:

Assuming you have owned a flash SSD, did it fail in the first 6 months?

No. - 83% (512 votes)

Yes. - 17% (105 votes)

Total Votes: 617

So I'll dig deeper with a more in-depth survey. It will ask for vendor and respondent names to help ensure that the data is coming from real people and not competitors bashing other competitors.

This doesn't fix the problem of audience self-selection but it should at leastgive us some visibility into overall vendor reliability - after adjusting for vendor market share.

I spoke to an Intel SSD engineer at the Flash Memory Summit in Silicon Valley who said that Intel has less than a 1% return rate. While I have no reason to doubt Intel's assertion - didn't ask if the 1% included No Trouble Found drives - this suggests some other vendors have higher return rates.

I'd like to know who they are.

The Storage Bits take

SSD marketing often claims greater reliability because there are no moving parts. But online SSD buzz offers recurring stories of sudden failures that leave users stranded.

With the survey I hope to get some good information of SSD drive reliability - by vendor if enough responses - and to make recommendations. In the meantime though, users should ignore the "reliability" argument and back up their data often. SSDs offer real advances in performance, but their reliability is still unproven.

Comments welcome, of course. Got any questions for the survey?

Topic: Storage

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  • Is 6 months enough?

    I can only relate to my own personal experience. I've owned.. who knows how many drives over the last 20 years. At least a hundred across the many PC's, laptops, home machines, work machines, lab machines, NAS, servers etc. Of which say 1/2 a dozen were SSD's.
    In all that time, I think i've had maybe 3 out and out failures in traditional drives. Plus a few more recoverable failures.
    3 out of my 6 SSD's have failed on me, and they have all been complete failures, generally just outside the 12 month warranty period.
    So for my personal machines, with consumer level drives, the failure rate of SSD's has been very very high.

    I also "own" racks and racks of SAN disk. Our failure rate in enterprise SSD's seems to be the same as the enterprise SATA disks.
  • I have experienced it....

    I'm reasonably certain I have experienced it (on the aftermarket SSD of my Dell Mini 9) and reported it in the survey. But, come on, this was a non-scientific, self-selecting, online poll.... you know, the kinds of polls that show Ron Paul up ahead of all other presidential aspirants by a margin of 10 to 1 (collectively).

    So while there may be reason to be skeptical of SSD longevity and durability I wouldn't really rely on this survey for much of anything.
  • data is not that reliable

    you said you had a pool of 600+ people and 17% responded yes, they had failure. i think the pool size is not that impressive and very far from representative, however it's interesting. i'm thinking that also peple with bad experiences are more eager to "report" than satisfied customers. also this site tends to attract a pool of tech ppl that may own more than one ssd so the chance to have a failed SSD is larger if you owned 5 SSDs than if you had ONE. take into account the number of SSDs each owned.
    • Data reliability

      If it were a random sample, 600 would be an excellent sample size. Most national polls are done with sample sizes of ≈1200 and have error ranges of +/- 3%.

      But given that the sample is probably NOT random - because of self-selection - the numbers are suspect. But 17% is still a surprising number. A longer survey that asks for more detailed info - including demographic info - may reduce and minimize the non-random-sample problem.
      R Harris
  • My personal experience with SSD reliability

    Bought a Corsair SSD. Failed in 3 months. Got a warranty replacement (was without computer for a week). Failed 8 months later. Got a warranty replacement (was without computer for a week). New Corsair drive is sitting on my shelf, the speed improvements aren't worth the downtime.

    I am now using a new Intel SSD (at twice the price) since I read that Intel is significantly better than any of the other consumer brands. We'll see.

    Compare that to years and years of buying regular drives where I think I've had 1 disk failure and that was on a drive that was a few years old at the time.
  • Difficult to get accurate figures...

    I personally own 6 SSDs that I am using in various computers - 2 in a desktop system, 4 in laptops. All owned longer than 6 months - longest is 3 years. So far I've had no failures. I'm more than happy with my results. In hard drives, I used to have about a 17% failure rate back in the 90s. However, since 2000 that dropped drastically - I've had only 1 drive fail in the last 12 years. Don't know if I've just been lucky or they're making the drives better than they used to. Maybe the fact that I run all mechanical drives in RAID, so the individual drives get less wear, has something to do with it.
  • My SSD experience has been poor

    Bought a 128GB SSD for a macbook pro and it failed in 8 months. Replaced it with an expensive Intel SSD which lasted 6 months and then failed. Went back to spinning disks and am happy. Speed is not a virtue if it comes at the cost of reliability.