How to Extend the Life of Your SSD Hard Drive

While super-fast SSD hard drives have become the norm and SSD prices drop below $1/GB, this newer technology is more accessible to the masses but one issue remains: the limited life expectancy of the SSD.

As SSDs Become More Affordable, One Issue Remains

The first solid state drives went for as much as $2,000/GB in 2000. SSD prices have dropped from $3/GB in 2010 to $1/GB today1, with a large amount under $1/GB when you consider the price after mail-in rebates. According to Storage Newsletter, today’s lowest priced SSDs include:
How to Extend the Life of Your SSD Hard Drive, Part 1

  • 256GB Crucial (Micron) v4 released ($0.74/GB)
  • 450GB Samsung SSD 840 Pro ($0.88/GB)
  • 400GB SanDisk Lightning ($0.87/GB)

SSDs provide faster performance and leave a smaller footprint than traditional hard drives but they have a shorter lifespan. So how do you maintain your solid state drive to last as long as traditional hard drive technology?

The simple answer is to extend the life of your SSD you must limit writes to the drive. There are a few ways to accomplish this but let’s dive into the issue of “why” first.

The Inherent Flaw with Flash Memory

Every write to a solid state drive results in the undesirable action known as “write amplification,” which shortens the life of the drive.

The flash memory of a solid state drive must be erased before it is rewritten, so when you try to write to the SSD, user data and metadata must be rewritten more than once to accomplish the intended write.

The multiplied number of writes and bandwidth consumed by write amplification have two negative consequences:

  • Decreases the life of the SSD
  • Reduces random write performance

But there are some things you can do to slow down, if not reverse, the effects of write amplification.

How to Combat Write Amplification

SSD Hard Drive vs Traditional HDDBecause SSDs read data from flash memory, file fragmentation doesn’t cause extended disk “seek” times on a solid state drive like it would do on a traditional electro-mechanical hard drive that must physically search for data first in order to access it. File access and “read” times are not a problem with SSDs…but writing to the disk is another issue.

SSD users should be concerned about the fragmentation of free space. If free space is scattered across the SSD between full blocks of data and trapped within partially full blocks of data, the more places the SSD must look to in order to write to the disk, and the less efficient write operations become.

The most effective way to combat the effects of write amplification is to keep free space consolidated on the SSD. Write amplification actually decreases when running TRIM operations to free up disk space, so you want to use the TRIM command to wipe clean unused disk space trapped in partially full blocks of data. But how do you keep TRIM operations running as efficiently as possible?

PerfectDisk®‘s SSD Optimize feature, specifically designed for SSDs, automatically eliminates free space fragmentation and consolidates fragmented free space wherever the largest section of contiguous free space exists, whether at the beginning, middle or end of the drive.

While PerfectDisk is known for its efficient defragmentation and fragmentation prevention on traditional hard drives, its SSD Optimize feature entirely avoids file defragmentation on SSDs, focusing solely on the consolidation of free space. As mentioned above, file fragmentation does not inhibit SSD read performance, so running a traditional defrag would provide no benefit to the SSD, and it would actually create additional writes to the drive, so SSD defragmentation should be avoided.

Fortunately, PerfectDisk detects SSD hardware and defaults to the SSD Optimize setting for SSDs. Running SSD Optimize on your solid state drive automatically results in more efficient SSD TRIM operations, preventing the multiple writes caused by write amplification before they occur, leaving you with faster, more efficient writes to the disk and a longer-lasting drive life.

1Storage Newsletter, $1/GB SSD Arrives, December 20, 2012

Category: PC PerformancePerfectDiskTips