Kroll Ontrack on field SSD reliability

How likely are you to lose data from an SSD failure? According to Kroll Ontrack's survey of almost 2,000 people, pretty likely: 24 percent of respondents had lost data due to SSD failures. Here's what you need to know.

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Erosion can be beautiful - unless it's your data.

Robin Harris

Kroll's online survey found that just 5 percent of respondents didn't use SSDs. Given their ubiquity in Macs, Ultrabooks, tablets, smartphones, and newer desktops that's not surprising. Even better, 81 percent used SSDs for performance, while only 10 percent thought they were more reliable.

That's good, because that's reality. As Kroll's Jeff Pederson, senior manager for data recovery, noted:

While adoption of SSD is up and failure rates between SSD and HDD are consistent, the types of failure are generally different. With hard drives, a bad motor or scratch in the platter can cause failure. Because there are no moving parts in SSDs, general electric failure or wear leveling failure are more common.

38 percent of survey respondents experienced a failure with an SSD, and of those, 64 percent lost data. That's just over 24 percent of all people surveyed.

What other research tells us

Google's SSD experience found that age, not usage, correlated with SSD failures. Since widespread SSD uptake is a recent phenomenon, Kroll's 38 percent failure rate should rise over the next year.

While Google found that SSDs were less likely to be replaced than disk drives, they also found that they were more likely to lose data. A chip or die failure can overwhelm the SSD's error correcting codes, rendering data unrecoverable.

The Storage Bits take

The bottom line is that if you don't want to hire Kroll after the fact, you should be backing up regularly before a failure. I've been in the storage business for over 30 years, and I back up my critical data every night to a local disk, as well as to the cloud.

Just remember that the The Universe hates your data, whether it is on the latest SSD or a five year old hard drive. Failures will happen - and usually at the worst possible time.

Be smart, be safe, be prepared. Whatever kind of storage you use, whatever brand, back it up!

Courteous comments welcome, of course.