Solid-State Drives Fail


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.




About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
This entry was posted in Backup, Digital Files and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Solid-State Drives Fail

  1. Nancy Lewis says:

    Darn! And I just ordered my new laptop today. . .with a SSD.

    • Mark Mizen says:

      I am not intending to say that you should avoid solid-state drives, only that it is still important to back up important photos and other files. In fact, solid state drives are more reliable than hard disk drives in that they are less likely to completely fail.

  2. Pingback: Monumental Mistake | All About Images Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s