SSD write endurance

I had a reader suggest that I take a look at this topic. It’s been a while since I did any hardware development but the hard disk in this computer, the storage in my iPhone and iPad and many other devices that we take for granted all use flash memory. What I didn’t realize was that although flash memory has greatly increased in speed and shrunk in size, its dependability has been decreasing over that same time period.

There has been alot of chatter on both sides of the endurance argument with some saying that flash and SSD’s are a good buy and others quoting numbers that refer to individual cell write life. There is enough confusing data that marketing people will have no problem spinning any story they want to publish.

In order to sort through the data and get to the facts, you have to know what you are going to use the storage for. In many cases data is written and remains there forever. When I think about my phone, It has had the same music on it for the past three years. I add new music, but I don’t remove the old stuff.

When I get a new computer or have to repurpose a computer that I have been using, I swap the hard disk for a new one and put the old one on a shelf. I have a hard drive docking station that can read IDE and SATA and looks like a USB disk to any of the computers that I use it with. Hard drives are cheap and replacing or moving data is a pain.

The SD cards that are sometimes referred to as digital film are so cost effective that I keep them as backups for the pictures that I have stored on various other drives. Almost all of my SDFlash cards have only been erased once or twice, if that.

For those of you who still have doubts about SSD vs spinning disks, consider the following:

My SSD has a MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) of 2,000,000 hours. 24 hours in a day x 365 days in a year = 8,760 hours. 2 million divided by 8760 =  228 (years).

For me, SSD endurance is really not an issue and I suspect that most of you will fall in the same category. I expect that advances in computer technology will exceed the life that I need from my storage devices and the benefits of SSD are amazing. The speed of this retina mac is allows me to be more productive and the size and weight make it the most portable resource that I have every had.

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