Many of us photographers rely on solid-state drives to store our important images. Did you know these types of drives only have a limited life span? Here's how to check how long your current drives have left on them before they urgently need replacing.
While solid-state drives (SSD) tend to be much more reliable than other forms of storage, they too don't last forever. I think many of us knew this fact already, but do we really have any idea how long the drives storing all our precious images will last? This week, technologist Joseph Thio is back once again to explore this very subject in his latest video.
In just over 8 minutes, Thio explains in great detail everything we need to know about SSD drives. The video starts by explaining the factors for endurance of a drive which is something I knew little about. He goes on to explain how the number of write cycles an SSD is capable of performing in its lifetime will vary wildly depending on the levels of cells the drive has. If you're in a hurry, this one area of the video is important to know as it will help you to understand if you have an SSD that has the durability to be written to 50,000 to 100,000 times at the higher end of the scale, or 150 to 1000 times at the lower end. Those two sets of numbers are quite different so it's crucial you know how many levels of cells you have in your SSD.
Thio goes on to explain how SSD manufacturers use a measurement called Terabytes Written (TBW) which is an estimate of how much data in terabytes the drive can handle being written to during the lifetime of the drive. By referring to the spec sheet of our particular drive we can easily find this figure out. We can then use a free program such as CrystalDiskInfo for Windows or GSmartControl for Macs to see how many of those Terabytes Written we have already used. Once we subtract these two numbers, we will know just how long our drive has left before we should start to consider replacing it. It's not all doom and gloom though as even when the drive has passed its rated TWB the drive could still last a good while yet. Thio talks about the concept of using these drives for things less important or in a way that means they are not written to as often.
Depending on the type of photographer you are will affect how hard your drives are worked. If you are a commercial photographer shooting and storing thousands of images a day, then you really need to make sure that you have the most durable drives that are out there. I think the biggest lesson I learned from this video is that not all SSDs are made equal. I currently have an SSD sat in my Amazon shopping basket that I've been meaning to buy for a while now. Before I send the money over to Jeff Bezos, I'll be checking to make sure the specifications meet my particular needs.
Do you know the lifespan of your particular SSD? Anyone using a drive way past its "Terabytes Written" rating? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Lead image by Kalhh used under Creative Commons license.