Most people may think that solid state drives (SSDs), while faster, do not have a long life and reliable quality of mechanical hard drives (HDDs), however, a new report finds that this may not be the case.
Cloud backup and storage provider Backblaze has launched its SSD report for the second quarter of 2022, reporting that SSDs are more reliable than mechanical drives, at least for the tens of thousands of drives deployed in its data centers, but the company also said that could change in the future as SSDs age.
Both Backblaze’s SSDs and HDDs are reportedly used as boot drives, not disks for storing data, and Backblaze began switching to SSDs in the fourth quarter of 2018, which means the two sets of drives are at different points on their respective life curves, for which the company only compared SSDs with an average age of one year to HDDs with an average age of one year, and so on.
The latest year of data shows a downward trend in SSD failure rates.
Backblaze SSD vs. HDD failure rates
Andy Klein, the chief cloud storage evangelist at Backblaze, said, “We can now reasonably claim that SSDs are more reliable than HDDs, at least when used as boot drives in our environment.”
He warns, however, that there is a “high probability” that SSD failure rates will eventually start to pick up, and it’s possible that at some point, SSDs used by Backblaze may “hit a plateau,” perhaps when they start to reach their flash wear limits. when they start to reach their flash wear limits.
The chart shows that from 2018 through 2021, the first year has the lowest failure rates for both types of drives, with HDDs failing at less than 0.66% and SSDs not failing at all. The second year is almost exactly the same linear increase, with HDD and SSD failure rates increasing by roughly 0.85%. The linear increase in failure rate is also true in years three and four, with both SSDs and HDDs showing the same failure rate curve, although SSDs have a lower overall failure rate. In the fourth year, HDDs hovered around 1.8%, while SSDs barely exceeded 1%.
Then things changed. In year 5 HDD failure rates rose dramatically, jumping from less than 2% to 3.6% in one year. Meanwhile, SSDs went in the opposite direction, dropping from 1.05% to 0.92%, meaning that SSDs were three times more reliable than HDDs.
It has been argued that SSDs have no moving parts and are therefore necessarily more reliable than mechanical drives, with the exception of fatal SSD failures due to overwriting or poorly designed firmware and mastering, which only affect a small percentage of people.