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I've read in this article http://www.storagesearch.com/ssdmyths-endurance.html that SSDs don't have a short life, particularly if they're big (like 64GBs, - would small and short life be like 64MB?)

that they can fail 2 ways... controller spreading writes across memory cells makes an error and writes to a cell that already had too many, or writes are spread properly, it fills up and literally one too many writes on any cell and it's gone.

Is that right?

I've heard most SSD users use MLCs 'cos SLCs are very expensive..

Is there any way to see the "health"(is there a better term?) of the thing? Do SSDs give SMART data as spinning disk drives do?

How many years should an MLC last just using windows xp? mostly browsing the internet.

not sure how yet, but should I redirect the paging file and browser cache to a spinning disk hard drive on another computer in the network that uses a spinning disk drive?

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It will depend on the particular drive. –  Cry Havok Oct 27 '10 at 14:32
    
@cry havok So given a make and model and spec of a drive, what would you look at to find out? –  barlop Oct 27 '10 at 14:46
    
it's more that different units from different manufacturers have different design targets. It's the same as if you'd asked about the lifespan of a traditional hard disk. –  Cry Havok Oct 27 '10 at 16:32
    
@cry havok - some for speed, some for capacity. But you can't look at a spec on say a spinning disk drive, and see it is for reliability. For an ssd I guess you can if it's modern-does wear levelling, and if it's big enough, then it shouldn't die early from too many writes. What design targets are you talking about? Speed? Capacity? of course.. these are things one can see from the spec, but what has that to do with my question? –  barlop Oct 27 '10 at 17:35
    
the point I'm failing to make is that you can't make blanket assumptions about entire technologies. –  Cry Havok Oct 27 '10 at 17:45
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

SSDs do report SMART data (although some of the SMART attributes obviously don't apply to a non-rotating drive.)

Even an MLC drive should last much longer than a platter drive. Intel says you can write over 20GB of data to the X25-M every day for TEN YEARS without exceeding its write capacity. Patriot actually WARRANTIES their drives for ten years (and their drives aren't even very good!)

The nice thing about SSDs as well, is that in theory once you stop being able to write, you can still read just fine...so just clone the drive and off you go again.

I would not bother redirecting the caches. If you're really only using the machine for browsing, you're fine. Just make sure the machine is in AHCI mode and the partitions are properly aligned (XP is /not/ smart enough to do this on it own!) and be aware that XP doesn't natively support TRIM as well so you'd have to do it manually. (TRIM is a sort of wear leveling the controller on the drive does to prevent performance slowdown over time.) It's best to use Windows 7 with an SSD, but honestly even with XP on a light usage machine there's no worries.

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Thanks for the read-only information. Do you know how this works? Will it just fail to write one day, perhaps no longer boot as system disk? –  Daniel Beck Oct 27 '10 at 15:29
    
I've never actually had it happen. I work for a small OEM actually and in hundreds of SSDs we've shipped I have seen zero failures (and only one DOA). –  Shinrai Oct 27 '10 at 16:36
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SSDs tend to fail on write. Hard drives tend to fail on read. What happens on flash memory is that an eraseblock (128k) will not reset all bits to 1 when that eraseblock is erased. That's how they fail. So, on an SSD the performance will tend to degrade as more and more eraseblocks in the flash become unable to retain what is written. What the firmware will do when it runs out of spare eraseblocks is up to the firmware. –  ultrasawblade Aug 27 '11 at 15:02
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The important thing to worry about here is comparing your SSD to a traditional hard drive. All that really matters is whether the SSD can give you at least the same kind of life expectancy.

I was concerned about this myself when SSDs first came out. I did some searching back then, and unfortunately I can't find the link now, but I read some things that indicated that while SSD's do have a fixed expiration date from the number of writes, they're generally still going to outlive the typical traditional spinning disk drive. Of course, that might depend on your usage patterns, but it's still good to know.

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive
-> http://wiki.eeeuser.com/ssd_write_limit
I saw somewhere else that it's a matter of quantity of writing like maximum 3/4To after the performance gets degraded

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is there anything out there that shows that? –  barlop Oct 27 '10 at 14:50
    
Yes the final column? It's not dedicated to MLC I agree but it's huge howver. Other interesting article: forum.notebookreview.com/… –  Warnaud Oct 27 '10 at 14:54
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The true answer to the question for both slc and mlc SSDs is this… “The SSD will outlive the hardware for which it was built for.” hehe :-) –  Warnaud Oct 27 '10 at 14:55
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