Solid-state drives are replacing hard disk drives for many applications. These drives are fast and have low power consumption. They use the same type of memory found in USB flash drives and camera memory cards.
Google and Facebook have recently published studies on the reliability of flash memory in solid-state drives. See Flash Reliability in Production: The Expected and Unexpected and A Large-Scale Study of Flash Memory Failures in the Field. Google and Facebook have large numbers of solid-state drives in operation and we can learn from their experiences, although neither company is willing to provide useful information comparing the reliability of specific products from different manufacturers.
- Flash drives have a lower replacement rate than hard drives but a higher rate of uncorrectable errors.
- Flash drives should be replaced or repaired once they start to show errors.
- Age and usage of solid-state drives increases failure rates.
- Higher capacity products may have lower reliability.
- Accelerated life tests do not necessarily correlate to real world failure.
Estimates for the time between repairs for flash drives range from 6.5 to 40 years, depending on the model. In addition, about 5% of flash drives required replacement within four years, although some models had significantly higher replacement rates.
The obvious recommendation is to back-up all data, whether it is stored on a solid-state or hard disk drive, since either type of drive can fail at any time.
For more information see Work doesn’t kill solid state drives, but age does, according to Google study.