Are SSDs comparable to HDDs for reliability and is there published research on this?

Also are all SSD manufacturers at a similar 'reliability level'?

  • 4
    No, not all drives are created equal. – user3463 Sep 11 '09 at 15:02
  • 1
    We've made a blog post about maximizing the lifetime of your SSD. – Tamara Wijsman May 10 '11 at 14:47
  • 4
    The answers here are mostly outdated, with the latest information from September 2009. – slhck Aug 18 '11 at 16:11
  • 2
    I'd like to know the latest figures. We are currently taking a dive and putting 16 SSD's into a RAID unit in production, with multiple global spares on a RAID 6 for extra protection. – Brain2000 Jan 31 '12 at 19:28
  • Some research on reliability of hard drives and SSD: github.com/linuxhw/SMART/blob/master/README.md – linuxbuild Feb 19 '18 at 10:46

SSD is so new in the market that while there are published research, it is currently all theoretical conjectures. I refer you to some here.

SSD Myths and Legends - "write endurance"

Are MLC SSDs Safe in Enterprise Apps?

Flash SSD Reliability

Anandtech's Review of the Intel-X25M

There are many others online, you can do a search (sorry, too many to list all down here) and find out more also. However, the gist of all articles is SSDs are more reliable than hard disks, and should last a good 20 years at least not counting performance degradation.

The answer to your other question of similar reliability level among SSD manufacturers is a resounding "No!". SSD manufacturers find various ways to cut costs by using cheaper NAND chips, controllers, QC process. Go for brand names like OCZ, Intel and Samsung - they are so far considered the most reliable on the SSD list.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    My only comment was going to be that they are so new that we will not see real-world lifespans and reliability tests for a good bit. I would hope that they would be better than HDD but you never know. – Dave Drager Sep 11 '09 at 15:06
  • @Dave Drager : +1 for your comment, entirely agree that it's too early to tell if SSDs will even sprout tentacles and take over the world 5 years from now. – caliban Sep 11 '09 at 15:11
  • Also, for OCZ SSDs, only go for the Vertex or Summit series - the Agility series uses cheap NAND chips and controllers. – caliban Sep 11 '09 at 15:21
  • OCZ has their new Agility EX series which looks pretty nice spec wise. Do these fall under the 'cheap' category along with the regular Agility series? – Brian Surowiec Sep 11 '09 at 15:39
  • 1
    Sooo, it's a year later, and many people have found their SSD's aren't lasting that long. This answer now sounds more like someone on the SSD bandwagon than someone with an objective perspective. I think this answer needs to be updated quite a bit. See: codinghorror.com/blog/2011/05/… – ajbdev May 8 '11 at 7:29

Are SSDs comparable to HDDs for reliability and is there published research on this?

No, they're not comparable. SSDs are shock proof which itself puts them light years ahead of any platter hard disk.

And here's a statistic for the average lifespan of various data storage media:

Platter hard disks: 3-6 years

Magnetic tape: 10-20 years

Floppy disks: 1-5 years

Optical disks: 10-100 years

Static memory (such as SSDs): 50-100 years

Stone tablets: up to 10.000 years

Source: Wikipedia (for the stone tablets :) and ZDnet (for the rest).

Of course your mileage may vary, depending on the use. The one fact in favor of platter hard drives are the relatively low costs compared to SSDs, robustness and performance comes at a price. And from personal experience I can tell: The SSD beats the platter hard drive hands down, in terms of speed and reliability.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Do you have a citation for these estimates? – Richard Hoskins Sep 11 '09 at 15:58
  • 4
    Methinks you are underestimating stone tablets. :) – caliban Sep 11 '09 at 16:00
  • not at all, just the storage density of 0,001 kbit/kg is a bit of a showstopper :) – Molly7244 Sep 11 '09 at 16:04
  • 2
    I think the reason ZDNet is giving static memory such a high lifetime is that it is not considering use. Static memory has a limited number of read/write cycles. If you write to it, put it away for 50 yrs, maybe it will still work. Use a SSD for 50 years? I don't think so. – Richard Hoskins Sep 11 '09 at 16:20
  • 7
    Hmm, sometimes floppies seemed more like 1-5 hours. – Nathaniel Sep 11 '09 at 17:38

Jeff Atwood (co-creator of Stack Exchange and this very site) wrote an article stating that SSDs are NOT as reliable as the other answers here suggest. He mentions a friend who has had eight SSDs fail on him in just two years!

I do wonder if that person's failures had some other unknown cause in common - maybe a bad power supply feeding them the wrong amount of electricity or something? But it's an important data point anyway.

| improve this answer | |
  • I read this too, then asked my local computer store who say they have a higher return rate for non-SSDs. He reckoned returns due to SSD failures were about 3%. But he was probably trying to make a sale so who knows...! – Alex Angas Jun 2 '11 at 1:13

First off, there are issues involving the available SSDs out on the market. The biggest being the degradation of performance over time. Anandtech has a great article on the subject so I won't delve into the subject matter.

My personal take on "reliability level" is (for the time being) a wait-and-see proposition. SSDs while blazing fast are still very new to the market. Different manufacturers employ different techniques (explained in the article) on the flash chips themselves and this in turn creates different pros and cons.

If you're looking towards and SSD to be comprable to regualar HDD, odds are no. Are they fast and oh so wonderful? Yes. But if you're looking to buy an SSD now and hope for reliability, I'm afraid their track record isn't so good for now. Give them a few quarters/years and SSDs will eventually replace the old platter hard drives, but it won't happen for a while.

| improve this answer | |

It depends on environmental conditions and usage. I expect that it'll be on average around 10 years, which is the claimed lifespan of flash memory.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.