Home » Blog » Understanding how long do SSDs last Understanding how long do SSDs last

An SSD or solid state drive is a type of storage device that can store all the information within a system. Most of the newer computer models have compatibility for SSDs. While HDD or hard disk drive was the common storage device in the past, it is now being replaced by SSDs. They have several advantages over HDDs that make it a preferred choice among users. Depending on the capacity, an SSD can handle large amounts of data. Before opting for one, it is necessary to understand how long SSDs last. It can help you to plan your workload according to the capacity and usage. 

SSDs and HDDs

SSDs are much faster than HDDs. It consists of flash memory chips that store the information. When a CPU requires information, it can pick it directly from the memory chips. This can increase the processing speed to a great extent. HDDs may not match the processing speed of an SSD as it contains mechanical parts. It depends on the movement of an arm over a spinning platter for accessing information. This movement can hamper the processing speed. It can also lead to loss of data if there is any mechanical failure. 

As HDDs have been in the industry for several years, they are often considered as reliable storage devices when it comes to handling larger volumes. Also, as the technology is tried and tested, there is little doubt about the lifespan of an HDD. It is a long-lasting option. On the other hand, as SSDs employ newer technology consisting of NAND memory chips, there is doubt about how long do they last. A satisfactory answer to this query can help you make the right decision. 

If you run multiple applications on your system, you may run out of space on your HDD or SSD. In such a scenario, opting for an SSD can help you with larger capacity and faster processing speed. It can handle multi-tasking with CPU intensive applications. With an ample capacity of 500GB or 1TB, you can easily store your operating system, large media files, and a gaming library. 

Finding out the lifespan of an SSD

Knowing how long do SSDs last can help you to choose between an SSD and HDD. You may prefer an option of storing your operating system on an SSD, while saving all the bulk data on the HDD. Another option is to opt for multiple SSDs with lower capacities as opposed to one larger capacity. The right choice would depend on your usage, budget, and data security. 

As SSDs are relatively new innovations, you may find a concrete answer about its lifespan. Currently, the lifespan of an SSD is measured with three parameters- age of the SSD, the total number of terabytes written over time (TBW), and the drive writes per day (DWPD). Each of these parameters can change the answer to how long do SSDs last. You can evaluate the lifespan based on individual metrics for a broader idea. 

a.     Age of SSD to determine the lifespan

In order to understand the performance capability and longevity in the long run, it is necessary to understand the age of an SSD. According to current estimates, the age of an SSD is around 10 years. A joint study was performed between Google and University of Toronto to test the performance of SSDs over multiple years. They found out that age influenced its working and could answer the question of how long does an SSD last. It clearly has a major influence over its lifespan.

b.     Terabytes written over time (TBW)

Terabytes written over time is a parameter that states how many terabytes of data can be written by the drive. It helps you to understand an estimate of successful writes over time. For example, an SSD with TBW of 150 can write 150 terabytes of data. After reaching the maximum limit, you would find it difficult to use it. In such a scenario, you can replace the used SSD for a new one. There is a demand for used drives in the market that can give you an excellent return for the newer upgrade.

c.     Drive writes per day (DWPD) 

This is another important parameter for understanding the lifespan. It tells how many times a user can overwrite the available storage every single day of its lifespan. For example, if an SSD has a capacity of 500GB with a warranty of five years, you can expect to write up to 500GB every day until the duration of five years. 

Though each of these parameters attend to a different aspect of performance, it can give a rough idea of how long do SSDs last. You can measure the capability by focusing on all the features. It is particularly useful when you are dealing with sensitive data. You cannot afford to lose the data or switch to newer ones on a regular basis. Cost of the SSD can influence the decision and help you understand if you can upgrade on a regular basis. 

Do SSDs last longer than HDDs?

Often users face the dilemma between choosing between SSD or HDD. While price is a major factor that can affect the decision, it is also necessary to look at reliability, security, efficiency, and capability. HDDs contain mechanical parts that can affect the functioning. It cannot handle multiple streams of data. Though they use a traditional form of technology for sustainable results, you may experience unexpected data loss or malfunction without any certainty. 

SSDs do not have any moving parts, hence you can be assured about data reliability. As they contain flash memory chips, they program data onto these calls. After filling the cells with data, you cannot add new data unless you erase the old one. It is denoted as P/E cycle or program/erase cycle. As they have a limited P/E cycle, you cannot rely on them to store new data beyond the limit. You would notice a gradual decline and wearing out, making it impossible to use it for storage. 

It is important to consider all types of uncorrectable errors or issues that can hamper data security and reliability. Finding the estimate of how long an SSD can last can help you plan if you require a combination of both. With this idea, you can also sell used HDDs or SSDs for valuable replacements with passing time.