Compare your SSD with an endurance test

Is your solid state drive getting near the end of its life?  Here’s how to find out.

Solid State Drives (SSD’s) are a great option for anyone looking to speed up the computer, especially Outlook.   Starting up Windows and major programs like Outlook is noticeably faster.

Either get an SSD with a new computer or add an SSD as a replacement Drive C on an existing machine.  Windows 8.1 for Microsoft Office users has a chapter devoted to making the switch to an SSD as Drive C for Windows, programs and documents and a standard hard drive ‘D:’ for images, videos and other large storage needs.

Like anything, SSD’s don’t last forever.  Over time the ability to reliably write new data degrades.  When that happens the bad blocks are skipped in favor of some extra drive space that’s kept aside as replacements.  But eventually the drive runs out of reserve space and can’t reliably write anymore.  When that happens the SSD should revert to ‘read only’ mode so you can recover the files on it.

TechReport has done a long, endurance test on some SSD’s.  By writing files many times they wanted to see how long the drives lasted before they gave up.  The article also has a good explanation of how SSD’s work.

The endurance test shows that most drives do pretty well, with two going past 1.5 Petabytes.  One failed at 728TB but most kept going past the Petabyte (1,000TB) barrier.

Most SSD’s drop to ‘read only’ mode when they can’t reliably write data. But the Intel model stopped, not because of a problem with the drive but because it reached a Host Writes limit set by Intel (750TB)!  Talk about planned obsolescence!  Imagine if your phone stopped working for no other reason than you’d used it for ‘too long’.

That said, 750TB is a lot of ‘real world’ use.  It’s far more than anyone should need during the lifetime of a drive.

For us mere mortals there are two measurements to watch:

Total Host Writes   This is the total amount of data written to the SSD. A value usually in the Terabyte (TB) range but can go into the Petabyte scale.

It can be hard to judge whether the total size value is high or low.  A lot depends on the age of the drive and the amount it’s used.  The endurance test gives you some idea of the amount SSD’s can cope with.

Happily there’s also a ‘Power on hours’ statistic so you can see how long the SSD has been running.

We’ve had SSD’s on laptop and desktop computers for some time with the desktop machine running 24/7.

Used Reserve Block count.   A count of the reserve spaces that have been used to replace bad sectors.  The lower the better.

Your SSD statistics

Where do you get all these SSD statistics?

CrystalDiskInfo gives you all the hard drive information you’ll need.  Download it from here  (the installation includes a ‘Speed up PC’ extra which you can opt-out).

On the main screen are all the measurements we mentioned above plus many more.

CrystalDiskInfo

The above drive has been running for about 13 months (396 days), saved about 22.8 Terabytes with no bad blocks.  That’s quite reasonable when you consider that the first SSD to fail the endurance test stopped at just over 700TB.

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