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What happens when an SSD Fail?

For many many decades data were being primally stored on mechanical hard drives. SSDs replaced this hard disk by using NAND flash-based memory, which is comparatively faster. Due to low read-access times and fast throughputs, SSDs speed up computers significantly whereas hard disk drive makes computers quite slower.

Although Solid-state drives (SSDs) might be comparatively faster and more stable, than Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). But still, SSDs aren’t totally perfect, and they can fail before the expected life span of the SSDs is of nearly five to seven years.

So in this article, I am going to discuss What happens when an SSD fails.

Due to the lack of moving parts in SSD, there is an incorrect belief among some people that SSD failure is impossible. SSD reliability is higher than HDD but still, SSD can fail just like any other electronic device.

Let’s see what can happen when an SSD fails

1. Facing Errors that involves Bad Blocks

When an area in storage media that is no longer be reliable for storing and retrieving data is called a bad block

which is often referred to as “bad sectors” in HDDs, bad blocks are generally classified into 2 types, one is physical/hard bad locks that occur when damage is caused to the storage medium and another one is soft/logical bad block, which generally occurs when an operating system fails to read any kind of data from a block.

Causes of soft and hard bad blocks in SSD

Hard bad blocks happen when there is any damage to a solid-state drive (SSD) that can occur due to failure of the memory transistor. Soft bad blocks happen when there is any software problem, which may lead to shutting down of computer unexpectedly in the middle of writing to a block as the SSD gets shut off.

There is a list of some of the problems that we can face when an SSD fails and the errors are related to Bad Blocks:-

1.)  When the computer attempts to read or save a file but takes an unexpectedly long time and fails at the end, with giving an error message by the system.

2.) Facing problems like freezing up and crashing of active applications.

3.) Facing errors Frequently while moving files.

4.) Computer getting slow while accessing large software or files.

let us discuss more in-depth regarding the problems caused when an SSD fails

2. Facing error messages like “Files Cannot Be Read Or Written”

Due to bad blocks, there are 2 problems that occur regarding reading, writing a file, they are:-

  1. When there is a bad block computer detects it while writing data to the SSD and end up refusing to write data by giving the error message accordingly and also that takes quite a long time than general.
  1. When there is a bad block computer detects it after writing the data to the SSD and ends up refusing to read the data by giving the error message accordingly and also that takes quite a long time than general.

This problem occurs due to  “Logical”/”Soft” bad blocks which aren’t physically defective, Bad blocks are a common cause of disk read errors. The block errors are not very easy to be fixed. However, you can try doing some troubleshooting using good SSD management software.

3. Facing error messages like “Your destination is Read-Only”

Another problem (not so common) user faces when the SSD fails is finding your drive getting read-only i.e. getting a refusal from your SSD while performing any operations that require to write data to disk, and it is only letting you read the file.

Sometimes the drive appears to be dead, although you can still recover the data. It can be done by trying to use that SSD as an external hard drive or a secondary hard drive to another computer and boot the operating system from the computer’s main drive and if the SSD is still functioning in read-only mode, you can retrieve all your data before throwing away the SSD or erasing the data.

4. Facing error messages like “Your PC needs to be Repaired”

You might have faced an error message like “Recovery, your PC needs to be recovered” popping on your screen, on either Windows or macOS, well sometimes this can happen just because of not shutting down your computer properly. But, other times, it is due to the SSD failure developed due to bad blocks or due to a problem in the connector port.

But make sure to connect your SSD to another computer and check whether your SSD has really failed or not.

Well, it is a common problem with HDDs also cause due to the faulty SATA cable. The SATA cable connects the HDD to the computer motherboard;

5. Your computer crashes frequently during boot

Just like file corruption, there are many causes regarding why your computer crashing frequently during boot so to check whether it is an SSD issue or something else just check whether your computer is crashing just during the boot process but works fine after hitting the reset button few times or not and if it is so then you are having a potential SSD failure. 

It can happen due to a bad block or can be a sign of a dying drive, and also it can resolve just by Formatting your drive or even reinstalling the OS, but make sure, you have taken a back up of everything or get recovery help to ensure to get all your data before the SSD fails totally.

Whenever you face this type of problem, you should definitely check whether there is any physical problem with your SSD or not. And if you find any problem back up your files as soon as possible and replace your SSD.

And also  If your SSD is on the verge of failure, or if you have an SSD for more than five years, then the best thing to do would be to start shopping for another good SSD.

You can also do the following to extend your SSD lifespan till you get a replacement:-

1) Avoid extreme temperatures So that it don’t affect the SSD

2) You can also free up some useless spaces on your SSD so data can be moved from bad blocks to the freed-up space.

6. Blank Screen or the system won’t boot up

Whenever your SSD fails completely, you will see that your system will not boot up. This will happen only if you have to use the SSD to install your OS. However, if it is used just for raw data storage, the system can work fine but you won’t be able to store anything on that drive.

So, if you are seeing that kind of issue, it is best to replace your SSD. If you have a backup of your drive, that’s good news for you. However, data recovery can be pretty difficult and costly when we talk about SSDs.

What could be the reason behind an SSD failure?

I have discussed briefly the SSD lifespan in another article. So, in a nutshell, there could be three main reasons behind an SSD failure.

  1. The first reason is that you have used your SSD a lot that the total TBW (Terabyte Written) limit is finished. Most of the 1TB SSDs come with a 500 GB to 1 TB daily write limit. So, during its warranty period, if you have finished that limit, your SSD can fail anytime.
  1. The second reason could be the overheating issues. This is one of the main reasons you will see mostly on the desktop. If you are excessively using your SSD and not having a proper cooling system, it can start to degrade faster.
  1. The third and main reason is that you are using a DRAM-less SSD or any SSD that doesn’t have caching function. This SSD never does wear leveling which is an important thing to ensure a good life for your SSD. I have discussed DRAM and DRAM-Less SSDs in another article. So, make sure to check that out as well.

What to do when you SSD fails?

The first thing to do is to use good SSD management software and see whether your SSD has any good health left or not. Most of these software will give you details about the errors and try to fix them if this is a software-related issue.

However, if the problem is related to the hardware components, this can be a little bit tricky to solve. In fact, most of the chip-related problems in SSDs can’t be fixed without professional support. Data recovery will also be tough.

So, whenever you SSD fails or start to showing the signs we have discussed above, it is better to seek some professional help. If the SSD is under warranty, it is better to get in touch with the manufacturer’s customer support right away.

Final Verdict

I hope you are now aware of everything related to the SSD failures. Different systems with different SSDs can show other errors. But, if you see that your SSD is not able to perform in the way it should do, it is the time to take a decision.

Thanks for reading!