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Do SSD last longer than HDD? (SSD Life expectancy)

There was a time when people looking to buy or upgrade their storage drives had little to no choices. They had to get only one sort of storage device. The scenario has changed considerably, today users have multiple options to choose from– they can either get an SSD or an HDD. Both of them are quite reliable and comparable to at least some extent. 

SSDs are no doubt more efficient and superior when it comes to performance. SSDs don’t have any moving parts in them unlike HDDs, and this makes them not only faster but also more durable. SSD’s are more efficient in handling shocks and falls. 

A comparison between SSD and HDD will lead to SSD outperforming HDD in most parameters. 

Is there any comparison parameter in which HDD can come out as a winner? SSD is more fast, modern, less noisy, and durable. But are SSDs cheaper than HDDs? No, usually an SSD is more expensive than a hard disk drive but the extra bucks you spend for an SSD is always worth it. 

When coming to storage capacity, we are now witnessing SSDs with storage capacities comparable to HDDs. 

SSD vs HDD Lifespan? 

One parameter we did not talk about is the lifespan of these storage devices? Do HDDs last longer than SSDs or is it the other way around? How long does it take for an SSD to fail? What is the average lifespan of an SSD? Let’s find out who has a better lifespan– SSD or HDD? 

Note: Does not matter how long your SSD can last, it is always a good idea to keep a copy of your data. While a good SSD won’t fail abruptly but when you are seemingly cursed, anything can happen. 

Multiple factors could contribute to either improving or worsening the life expectancy of an SSD or an HDD. If you are living in mid of Sahara desert, your SSD might fail sooner than it’s average life expectancy. And same is the case if you live in Antarctica. 

On a serious note– temperature, climate condition, and proper or improper handling do impact the life expectancy of any drive be it SSD or HDD. 

Answering how long SSDs last is somewhat complicated, so we would cover it later. Let us first see how long HDDs last on average.  

HDD Lifetime Expectancy 

An HDD relies on a rotating disk which is more prone to physical damage. If you are constantly dropping your drive then it could harm its lifespan.

So when it comes to handling physical shocks, SSDs are better. HDDs available today in the market are good at handling possible physical harm, still, Solid-state drives are more durable. 

Data loss is yet another thing we should consider when talking about the lifespan of hard disk drives. You might think that your hard disk drive will remain in perfect shape when it only sits idle and you do nothing with it. But unfortunately, data loss occurs even if you don’t use your hard disk drive. The magnetic domains of hard disk drives change polarity with time, which leads to data loss and degradation.

Hard drives usually work fine for 3-5 years, and after that, they might fail depending on assorted factors. 

SSD Lifetime Expectancy 

SSDs are modern storage drives and pretty efficient, but even they also fail after a particular time. The general notion is that most SSD do the job for 10 years on average. But SSDs may fail even before reaching the age of 10 years. And some SSD could last for as long as a century. 

The lifespan of SSD depends on a multitude of factors which we are going to discuss now. The expectancy will depend on several factors.

If you are a rough user and your SSD has a low TBW rating, it may degrade faster. But, even after the TBW limit is crossed, you can use your SSD but in read-only mode.

Generally, small storage variant SSDs such as 125GB and 250GB comes with low TBW ratings. So, if you are using them for regular and aggressive data read/write tasks, they will degrade faster.

Age, Data Loss, and Degradation 

SSDs are even more prone to data degradation and loss than HDDs. As you know, SSD stores data as electrical charges that are more prone to leak. New SSDs are not that much susceptible to data loss than older SSDs. 

Most SSDs are not likely to face data degradations and loss within ten years of their age. 

The exact time after which an SSD becomes more susceptible to data loss depends on the type of SSD. There are different types of SSDs available in the market like–

  1. Single Level Cell (SLC)
  2. Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
  3. Triple Level Cell (TLC)
  4. QLC (Quad Level Cell) 

The number of cells in SSD also contributes to its lifespan. If an SSD has more cells, it is more likely to last longer. It is because more cells would mean lesser rewrites and more cells available for bad block management. 

TBW (Terabytes Written)

Another thing that determines the lifespan of an SSD is terabytes written (TBW). Most SSDs can only make a limited number of successful writes in their lifetime. Once you reach that number, that means you have used your SSD enough, and now it’s the time to give it some rest. 

One thing to note is that SSDs don’t degrade when reading data. 

If we take the example of Samsung SSD 860 PRO SATA (1TB), it can only write 300 Terabytes of data. So, if you have done this amount of work within one or two years, your SSD can die anytime. However, the company states that most of their SSDs can handle 600 TBW limit pretty easily.

How to calculate DWPD from TBW?

Most companies will give you insights into their SSD’s TBW. The TBW may vary depending on the size of an SSD. But, you can use this formula to determine the total DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) from the TBW. Let’s see.

If your SSD is rated for 150 TBW and has a storage space of 1 TB.

150 TB ÷ (5 years × 365 days/year) =82GB Per Day.

In simple words, you can write 82 GB of Data on your SSD per day. Its an average. So, you can write more data one day and less data on another day. But, when you crossed the total TBW limit, your warranty is finished.

P/E Cycles in SSDs

Solid-state drives rely on flash memory cells for storing data, so we are in some way using electrical charge for data storage. 

There is only a limited amount of space available in an SSD. Once we use all the memory, the drive will erase older data to feed new data. This erasing of old data to enter new data is what we call P/E or program/erase cycle. 

The catch is– we can only perform a limited number of P/E cycles on an SSD. Once you reach near to the maximum number of P/E cycles you can perform on an SSD, storing data on that SSD will be riskier as the SSD may become unusable or fail anytime. 

SSD might also develop different errors with time, and this may lead to data loss or failure. 

All these factors together determine how long an SSD will last. 

SSD VS HDD Life Expectancy– The Conclusion?

Different factors make people choose one drive over the other. One looking to boost their system performance might go with SSD. And some people might go with HDD for the massive storage capacity it offers. HDDs are also more affordable. Ultimately, it all comes down to specific user requirements. 

As we saw, HDDs are more prone to physical damage and are not as durable as solid-state drives. Complications might occur if you accidentally damage the inner-parts of the HDD by dropping it. In that case, it won’t be easy to retrieve the data.

Data loss is also an issue with SSD. Data recovery from SSD is not as easy as recovering data from a hard disk drive. 

SSD degrades after each P/E cycle and there is only a limited number of successful writes you can make. After reaching the threshold for P/E cycle or terabytes allowed, your SSD is more likely to fail. 

All in all, Solid-state drives are quite reliable and won’t cause you serious problems within 10 years of age. Again, your SSD may last for as long a century but it again depends on multiple factors we discussed in this post. 

HDDs generally don’t last longer than SSDs. 

I hope this information was useful.

Thanks for reading.