Anyone hear about Solid State Drive (SSD) reliability issues?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by TheBSDGuy, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. TheBSDGuy macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Recently the hard drive in my system started acting up...typical symptoms, slow boots, periodic lock ups, etc. We heard good stuff about a product called Scannerz which does hardware oriented analysis of hard drives on Macs (for details, see their web site at http://www.scsc-online.com )

    Rather than going into a long and drawn out post about why my drive is failing, suffice it to say Scannerz pretty much indicated that the unit has problems. I could attempt the repairs they recommend which is to backup and reformat the drive and try it again, but the drive is 6 years old and probably used on the average at least 5 hour a day. I figure I could attempt a fix, but being as old as it is already, I'm thinking just to replace it.

    The prices of SSDs have dropped...still not cheap, but at least they're now affordable. I know that the wear leveling issues they've had in the past were supposedly fixed, so I started doing some research into them yesterday. What I found out was pretty shocking and to me, surprising.

    The following post that I found is one that seems to very common:

    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sh...yields-answers-that-raise-troubling-questions

    I know that's a windows site, but if you do a google for "SSD Failures" there are not only a lot of posts about them, but videos on YouTube as well.

    What I would have THOUGHT would have happened is that some guy using his system as something like a database server hits the SSDs with so many writes that he would start to lose blocks, and as the SSD controller marks more and more of them bad, the performance degrades. That's what I THOUGHT would have happened.

    What seems to happen instead is that a lot of them (not just OCZ) just "give up the ghost" out of the blue, for no apparent reason. Because this technology, at least in mass produced consumer levels, is pretty new, I have to wonder if SSD manufactures have really gotten all the kinks out.

    Apple is now selling units with SSDs. Does anyone know if these are proving to be reliable?

    The idea of being able to boot in 10 seconds is appealing, but losing everything on the drive, having to send it back to the manufacturer, waiting for a return, and then re-installing it, possibly only to have the same problem occur over again is not appealing.

    Another question might be whether or not an SSD is even a good candidate for my system. I'm using an iMac C2D from 2006-2007. SSDs can pass data at much higher data rates than my poor old system can likely handle. My system uses SATA 1.X at 1.5Gbits/sec, whereas I think most if not all the SSDs support SATA 3.X at 3.0Gbits/sec. Are SSDs backward compatible with previous SATA versions? I would think they would be, but that's a guess.

    Another option that I might consider is an external RAID 0 with a FireWire interface.

    I'm interested in hearing opinions and options.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. ZVH macrumors 6502

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    Apr 14, 2012
    #2
    I had the same question myself. However, the post you have about the guy that has all the problems begs a little analysis:

    a) He's using Windows. Is comparing problems with Windows really a realistic evaluation of SSD problems?

    b) How do you know the guy doesn't know what he's doing? Maybe he's configuring them incorrectly.

    That said, SSDs are, as far as I'm concerned still in there infancy. It kind of reminds me of when LCD monitors first came out. Initially they'd look great, then some of them would develop splotches, vertical lines down the screen, color shifts, and it often happened in a manner of months. Now, years later, I'd say they're easily as reliable as the old CRT types were, but it really took about 5 years to get to that point.

    I think SSDs are in the same boat as early LCD monitors were: Not ready for prime time. It's really only been a year or two since trim capability was implemented, and it sounds to me like OCZ still has some issues. I've heard good things about Intel's SSDs.

    If I were you I'd just save the money and replace your drive with a new SATA HD. Let someone else be the guinea pig. There's no doubt in my mind that the days of the classic hard drive are numbered, but until SSDs get the bugs worked out and the prices come down, I'd be hard pressed to personally justify such a purchase for myself.
     
  3. user418 macrumors 6502a

    user418

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    #3
    I've thoroughly enjoyed my ssd over the past several months. The increase in boot time and overall speed is quite noticeable. Like you I was hesitant after reading all the posts regarding troubles people were having. After much procrastination I based my decision on reputation and reliability and purchased a Samsung 470 and haven't looked back. I have not experienced any problems whatsoever. MR has some great threads on the various ssd's and related performance. With prices dropping I'd suggest you decide on a manufacturer based on your own research, keep your eyes open for sales, and go for it when the price is right for you.
     
  4. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    #4
    We have all heard the horror stories and yes their failure rate is probably higher than mechanical, but I have had or have 7 and all are still going strong. Most are sandforce based which are supposed to be theist unreliable and I haven't had a problem. My corsair force 3 was recalled And I got a free replacement but otherwise I haven't had a full failure yet and one Ssd has been going string for 2 years almost.
     
  5. bushman4 macrumors 68000

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    #5
    There's always a story that prevails. However from using IMACs for business and at home they are quite reliable.
    While i wouldn't say they're not subject to fail at some point, I think that a regular HDD will fail much more often than a SSD.
     
  6. All Taken macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    More reliable in the sense that no moving parts are present meaning it's more stable.

    Less reliable in the sense that if they do fail unlike a traditional hard drive you have almost no chance of recovering the data.
     
  7. stridemat Moderator

    stridemat

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    #7
    My OCZ SSD was unreliable, email exchange with customer support later and the it turns out the Firmware was still on the original shipping version. Updated and its been rock solid ever since.
     
  8. All Taken macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    And of course firmware can be a factor, OCZ in my experience much like yourself have had various issues with firmware. I try and steer clear of them now. They're great for correcting problems, given enough time, but they're almost 100% faulty firmware wise on first release.

    Some people might jump the wagon and give some crap like 'Any first revision is going to be like that' but thats not the case with many SSD manufacturers.
     
  9. cube macrumors G5

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    #9
    I have still not bought an SSD because of price and reliability.

    I would only buy an SSD whose controller and firmware have been developed by the vendor (not just customized). And the vendor should have a history of hard drive or chipmaking.
     
  10. TheBSDGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 24, 2012
    #10
    After giving it some thought, I'm going to stick with a SATA hard drive. Although I'm still a little apprehensive about SSDs, the reality is that I just want the space. I remember the "good old days" of drives with sizes < 100GB, and I remember having to "clean" them too often (as in delete files no longer needed). With a huge drive that I can get for about $100, I'm confident I'll never have to clean again.:D
     
  11. user418 macrumors 6502a

    user418

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    #11

    Sounds like Samsung. As I understand they make their drive entirely in house. Controller, drive, chips, etc.....
     
  12. All Taken macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Perhaps a hybrid from seagate?
     
  13. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    #13
    Samsung and Intel both have SSD's that they built and created the firmware for (Toshiba as well?). OCZ bought Indilinx and while the most recent indilinx controllers are Marvell controllers with a custom firmware, we should see some Indilinx controllers soon (so OCZ will fall into this same category).

    The problem is that most of the SSD's on the market are released by Flash Memory manufacturers. Most of them are smaller and don't have the resources to build a controller (it's not a simple process), so either you look to the "big boys" (Samsung, Intel, Toshiba) and pay a bit more, or you look to the "little guys" (OCZ, Corsair, etc.) who buy controllers and throw their own memory on them.

    Edit: as to your point about a "history" of chip making. Just about any SSD is built by companies with a history of "chip making". They all are companies who have been making Flash and/or RAM memory chips for years.
     
  14. cube, Apr 16, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012

    cube macrumors G5

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    #14
    I think a lot of SSDs are made by RAM module makers, not chipmakers. I won't buy from those, even if they buy an SSD controller maker.

    When I say chipmaker, I mean big chipmaker with a long history of quality products.

    I understand Seagate is now sharing SSD controller design with Samsung, so those would qualify as "made by them".
     
  15. TheBSDGuy, Apr 19, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012

    TheBSDGuy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Interestingly, I've done a little more research. I was curious if data centers were using SSDs. The answer is "Yes", but primarily as semi-read only devices.

    One example I have is a data center hosting web sites. Dynamic sites, where the content is changed frequently (perhaps by the minute, like on this site) get put on HDs or RAIDs. Sites with little content change, that are, for the most part, static, get put on SSDs. My homeowners association has our web site and it is, for all practical purposes, static. It gets updated about every three months when board minutes are posted to the site, aside from that, it's strictly read-only. Considering that SSDs have no moving parts, and the few amount of writes the drives get hit with, I would think that SSDs, assuming they really do last, could last a decade or more in this environment.

    Any of you old enough and familiar with the "good 'ol days" of Unix, when a 30 MB hard drive was big, and a 128MB drive was ENORMOUS, will remember that it wasn't at all unusual for the root partition to be on a tiny drive, the system put on another, smallish or mid-sized drive, and finally all user data put on "huge" drives.

    I would think that with a hybrid system comprised of SSDs and hard drives, Apple would put the OS and Apps (things that don't change frequently) on an SSD and then put things that do change a lot onto a regular hard drive. You would get the performance gains of SSDs for reading and the reliability of HDs for items frequently changed.

    I know guys that download and watch entire movies, delete them, download another, and repeat the cycle. Each movie has got to be at least 8G in size and every time it's copied to the drive and then removed it effectively becomes a complete write cycle of 8GB. Now considering most SSDs are still fairly small, and if someone is doing this fairly regularly, how long will the SSD last before it runs out of write cycles (and this is just transient data, not anything the OS or other apps are reading/writing)?

    Another question I would have would be what happens when the write cycles on a memory cell on an SSD get depleted? Let's just say that SSDs get the bugs worked out so they don't just give up the ghost for some reason as some of them now seem to do, and instead keep running smoothly until the maximum number of writes per block(?) get used up. Does the SSD just, like memory sticks do now, just become a read-only device, or do they mark the blocks as bad and remove them from the list of available blocks permanently, or does the entire drive just mark itself as "read-only". I believe that some of the older SSDs out there slow down drastically and remove the blocks from available space, thus effectively shrinking the drive.

    ...this also makes me wonder just how long an iPhone/iPod/iPad with what amounts to flash memory or an SSD will really last. My old iPhone 3G just seems to be getting slower, and slower, and slower.
     
  16. Atomic Ed macrumors regular

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    Jun 5, 2007
    #16
    I personally would stay away from any ssd intel makes. They are some of the buggiest drives out there. Controller and defective chip issues and firmware bugs galore. I know from experience having bought some of them and all failed within a month. One I lost everything on it.

    Turns out there were defective chips on the 320 series drives I had and all they said was sorry we know there is an issue but the next wave of drives should be fixed soon. There is also going to be a firmware update soon too. Which took weeks.

    Finally i said no kore intel ssd ever again for me.

    Bought ocz vertex 3 to replace them and all have worked flawlessly without any issues for many months now.

    All in all I think ssd drives in general are many years away from being reliable on a large scale, also the cost is still way too high for what you get. Maybe in another 5 years or so they technology may be more refined and reliable but for now the temptaton for speed brings with it all the current dangers with these drives at the moment. I love the concept but hate the current status, its like were all hardware beta testers for them.
     
  17. paul117 macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2012
    #17
    if there was one ssd i had to recommend it would be the Kingston Hyper-x, for me its very relyable and extremely fast very satisfied with it :)
     
  18. LachlanH macrumors regular

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    Oct 5, 2011
    #18
    All I know is the SSD in my MBP was the single best upgrade to a computer I have ever made.

    Honestly, CPU's, RAM, etc have all gotten much faster over time yet mechanical hard drives have not really improved much at all in the last 10 years. They ARE the bottle neck. Don't bother spending money to move from an i5 to an i7, or 4gb RAM to 16gb RAM. An SSD will be a FAR more noticeable upgrade over either of those.

    I will never buy a computer without an SSD again.
     
  19. harddrivefailur macrumors newbie

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    #19
    This might seem to be a logical way of looking at it, but in reality SSD hard drives are still very unstable in general. The technology is still very new, and even though they do not have spinning disk platters, they still have a lot of mechanical parts that do commonly fail.
     
  20. DeF46 macrumors regular

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    #20
    There are so many conflicting reports ...

    For example:

    http://www.corsair.com/blog/force-series-ssd-life-testing/

    Go figure.
     
  21. All Taken macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I'm very interested to hear which mechanical parts are inside the SSD and which parts are very unstable in general. Excluding firmware problems I would say the Chips and surrounding technology are proven to be very sound indeed.
     
  22. leman macrumors 604

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    #22
    There are no mechanical parts inside an SDD :confused:

    As to the failure rates: the SSDs should be slightly more reliable than HDDs in real life usage. They will become more reliable as the tech becomes more mature.
     
  23. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #23
    :D :D :D :D :D :D

    Thanks for the laugh. I needed that this morning.

    Check out all of the mechanical gizmos inside....

    [​IMG]

    Please count how many mechanical parts you see and report back. You'll be marked out of 10.
     
  24. Sjhonny macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Intel & Samsung SSD's are fine, Crucial M4 is still okay. OCZ Vertex II & III series sucked (SandForce - just like OWC). Intel also uses Sandforce in it's 520, but with different firmware.

    ----------

    That's called marketing. These numbers are based on ideal conditions and represent when, statistically (this hasn't been tested, it's just calculated), the Flash would start dying from to many write cycles. Mainly it's not the Flash that fails first, but the controller. These measurements where done in near ideal situations, not exactly a home setup.
     
  25. DeF46 macrumors regular

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    #25

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