A couple of questions about SSDs

Ralf Mardorf ralf-mardorf at riseup.net
Wed Oct 14 18:22:24 UTC 2020

On Wed, 14 Oct 2020 17:47:49 +0200, Polytropon wrote:
>My guess (and it's really just a guess due to my personal lack
>of any important data and experience) is that the SSD will work
>until it is replaced by a bigger one, or the whole system it is
>installed in will be replaced with a faster one. So there is
>nothing to worry about. If you _really_ want to worry about
>something, ask the manufacturer if they made the firmware brick
>the whole thing when a certain write count is reached so you
>cannot even _read_ your data anymore. :-)

In my desktop PC are 5 SSDs. Four are connected to the mobos SATA 3
connectors and one is connected to a SATA 2 connector. Four are 223.57
GiB sized and one is 447.13 GiB sized. I'm to lazy to check how old
each of them is, but IIRC the oldest is around 3½ years old and the
vendor's software mentions that the "health" is at 64%, the system
drive is one of the newer SSDs, maybe around 2 years old, "health" 57%.

In my experiences HDDs last for around 2 years, if you turn the computer
on and off very often and for around 7 years, if the computer runs more
or less 24/7. It depends on several factors ;). I don't know for how
long external backup and archive HDDs do last. Probably for way longer
than 7 years.

However, my guess is, due to a lack of experiences with SSDs, that they
last for as long as HDDs do last. However, I suspect I will replace one
by another with more sized SSDs already before they fail.

I became a digital photographer a few weeks ago and noticed, that I
was mistaken a while ago, when we talked about storage space. Nowadays I
tend to make one or two photos more, than I've done, when I needed to
pay for 35 mm film ;).

Due to a lack of money, I put together two new 2 external 2 TB HDDs
with USB enclosures, to reorganize my current internal SSDs and my
current external backup and archive HDDs. Btw. I've done this today.

As soon as I've got enough money again, I will get also more external
storage space. Maybe I'll continue using USB (/eSATA) enclosures, maybe
I'll get a swap bay. I've got no experiences with NAS. It seems to be
too expensive. However, a starting point would be to replace my 1 and 2
TB external HDDs with 4 TB HDDs. The used enclosures are suitable for
HDDs up to 4 TB.

>As long as the light switch doesn't suddenly shout "I've been
>used 1500 times now, I'm kaputt, please buy a new one!" everything
>should be okay within the limits of reality.

If my SSDs should do this after 4 or 7 years, I could accept it. Btw.
my iPad 2 is way older than 3 years and the internal 32 TB
drive was used to it's limits, but still works. My new iPad has a build
in 1 TB drive for good reasons.

>For the case of using lots of "throwaway files" (i. e. stuff you
>only need as files during ports builds), you can always use a
>RAM disk, if your system has enough RAM. And swap space that you
>don't write to doesn't add any wear.

FreeBSD might work better, maybe the Linux of other users does, too. If
I exceed tmpfs size with my Linux, when building packages, swap isn't
used. Build aborts with a "no space left on device" error.

>> What exactly makes you think, that SSDs need gentle treatment?  
>It's probably the limit on write cycles, but I'm not sure how
>this compares to general lifetime calculations compared to
>regular hard disks...

Neither do I, but it seems likely that they last as long, as HDDs do.
Most file systems are ext4 (on the old HDDs it probably was ext3),
journaling enabled, some use relatime, some use noatime. The noatime
option isn't used to reduce write cycles of a SSD, it's a leftover from
the times when my computers used HDDs for audio production and should
help to achieve better performance.

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