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I bought a SSD for my gaming machine, and I'm wondering how should I separate my data. I know SDDs are known for failing somehow fast, and I'd like to make it last as long as possible.

Should I install all my games on a separate drive, leaving the SSD only for the OS? Doing this would reduce read/write operations, but would make games load a little slower (I think). Is it worth it? Does that make a difference on how long the drive will last?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

SSDs have a limited number of program/erase cycles per cell, in the order of 5000, depending on the drive. The controllers in recent drives "rotate" these cells to spread writes across the whole SSD, maximising the life of the drive. There is also hidden, spare area which can be used to replace cells that have worn out. In theory, it is possible to read data even after all program/erase cycles have been exhausted. So the likelihood of losing data due to the drive reaching the end of its lifetime is small.

Nevertheless, the drive's controller hardware/software may fail (which I think is what is described here), rather than the flash memory. This is clearly difficult to predict, but historical failure rates suggest that some manufacturers made more reliable SSDs than others.

Games can take a lot of space, and, as you point out, an SSD will largely only improve loading times rather than in-game performance. There might be a noticeable improvement for texture-heavy games, if textures are loaded from disk on-the-fly. SSDs tend to be faster the more free space that is available, so filling the drive up with largely static data such as games is generally not advised. I'd say it's a matter of personal preference - you might want to have a couple games on an SSD, and all others on a hard disk.

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Although this was true in 2011, currently most SSD's from quality brands are regarded equal or even better than HDDs. See for example this blogpost or this one – agtoever Aug 12 '15 at 8:31

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