SSDs Fail, Too

I’m on the second week of helping someone recover from an encounter with ransomware. The details of that aren’t relevant, except that it’s likely that the next few blog posts will be drumbeats for backups. If you already have a backup regimen in place, good for you; you can stop reading now and go check to make sure your backups are running when they’re supposed to. For the rest of you…

The photo above is of a solid state drive – SSD, for short – that came out of a client’s laptop. There are two remarkable things about it. The first is its size. It’s an M.2 2230 NVMe SSD. M.2 is the type of socket it fits into. NVMe stands for “Non-Volatile Memory Express”, which means nothing to you unless you’re a computer hardware engineer or you’re playing a very recently revised game of Trivial Pursuit, but it’s the fastest type of consumer-replaceable SSD available as of this post. The 2230 is probably the most interesting thing about this SSD, because it describes its physical dimensions: nominally 22mm wide by 30mm long. SK Hynix managed to cram 512GB of memory on this tiny thing. Most 512GB SSDs are size 2280 – 22mm wide by 80mm long. I placed the SSD in the protective container from a 2280 size SSD to offer you some perspective.

That leads me to the second remarkable thing about the pictured SSD: it failed. So, if you guessed that the protective container it’s sitting in came from its replacement, which was a more common 2280 size SSD, then you deserve an award for deductive reasoning. But depending on who you’ve asked about data storage options recently, you might also be asking, “How’s that again? An SSD FAILED? They can do that?”

The short answer is yes, SSDs can fail, even though they have no moving parts. You may have been told by me that SSDs are far more reliable than conventional hard drives, and that modern ones typically outlive the computers they’re installed in. I stand by those statements, and, in general, I don’t install conventional hard drives anymore. But while SSD failures are rare, they do happen. (Don’t fixate on the brand or model here. With only one exception, and this SSD isn’t it, nothing in my experience suggests that any one brand or model of SSD is any more or less reliable than any other.) When they do fail, they usually do so catastrophically and with no advance warning. In addition, SSDs offer no inherent protection against malicious data destruction, such as ransomware encryption, and because they store and handle data very differently from hard drives, many of the tricks for getting files back after accidental deletion don’t work on SSDs.

So, even if all your computers use late-model SSDs for data storage, making and keeping regular backups is a must. If you don’t have a regular backup regimen, reach out to us right away. Getting started with a backup plan is quick, painless and inexpensive, and even the most expensive backup plans we offer cost a lot less than data loss, recovery attempts and related downtime do.