Solid-state drives (SSDs) have faster read and write speeds, quicker bootup time, lower power consumption, and higher longevity than HDDs. Even though they are much more efficient and cost-effective than HDDs, they aren’t entirely flawless. Just like HDDs, SSDs can fail too and put your data at risk of being lost forever.
In most cases, SSDs don’t just stop working all of a sudden and show some signs of failure beforehand. If you can identify these signs, then there’s a lot you can do to prevent your SSD from crashing.
In this article, we will be going over the most common indications of SSD failure and discussing how you can spot them. We have also included some troubleshooting tips to help you out if you face any of these issues.
So let’s get started.
Warning Signs Your SSD Is About to Fail
Here are the most common symptoms that indicate your SSD is on its last leg.
Your Laptop Takes a Long Time to Save Files
This is one of the early and most easy to spot signs of an SSD failure. SSDs, by their nature, are meant for faster file transfers than hard drives, thanks to flash memory technology. But when it takes a long time to perform menial tasks like saving files, something might be wrong with the drive.
Although in rare cases, delay in saving can happen because of the CPU being at its maximum potential, more often than not, saving delays are caused by “Bad blocks.” Now you must be wondering what “Bad Blocks” mean?
‘Bad blocks’ are nothing but SSD equivalent of what we know as “Bad sectors” in hard drives. A long saving time which is always followed by an error message, never actually finishing the saving task, is one of the earliest signs of an SSD failure caused by ‘Bad Blocks.’
File System Repair
If you are greeted by pages that say “the application or operating system couldn’t be loaded because a required file is missing” or “NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM” while booting up, or if your PC suddenly crash lands here, chances are your SSD needs to see a doctor.
However, don’t directly relate these issues with your SSD. Such issues mainly occur because of system file corruption, and there are many factors involved in file corruption, including but not limited to a failing SSD.
Improperly shutting down the PC, or most commonly, shutting down the PC during an update, are the most common cause of such file corruption. However, in most cases, such issues are automatically fixed by the operating system itself. So if you find yourself here very often, even after you have already run the diagnostic tools, then it’s highly probable that it’s your SSD that’s causing this issue.
If your SSD has the previously mentioned bad block issue or some hardware connection issue, it can cause file corruption too. However, you might lose some of your data in the process. But if the issue is caused by a ‘bad block’ in the SSD, it is a major sign that your SSD has its days numbered, and you should immediately backup your data.
Your Laptop Crashes During Boot
If your PC is crashing during the boot process but works fine after hitting the reset button a couple of times, then your drive is likely to blame. It might be a bad block or the sign of a dying drive, so it’s best to back up your data before you lose any of it.
Bootup crashes can be very annoying, and sometimes your PC can get stuck in a boot loop. If you find yourself in such a situation and just pressing the restart button a couple of times magically fixes this issue, then your drive is most likely the culprit here.
However, similar to file corruption issues, it is hard to pinpoint boot crashes to a failing SSD without running a few diagnostics first. If possible, try reformatting the SSD and installing a fresh copy of windows. If the problem persists, it is definitely caused by a failing SSD and not a software issue.
You Receive a Read-Only Error
The read-only error is quite frankly a rare occurrence and thus one of the least popular causes of SSD failure. Although rare, it can be one of the tell-tale signs your SSD is failing. In this error, your SSD refuses to perform any ‘write’ actions that you ask of it and rather works in a read-only mode. In English, that means you can copy a file from your SSD to a pen drive but not the other way around. You also won’t be able to save the changes you make to files too.
The SSD is virtually rendered useless as you cannot write any new data on it and all the dynamic processes associated with it also stop, which may cause system crashes. But you can still connect this SSD to an external adapter and backup all the data present on it, as all your previous data is preserved in the read-only mode till the drive actually fails.
Troubleshooting and Tips
Now that we’ve talked about identifying a potentially failing SSD, the question is— how to fix SSD failures? Naturally, you might think about replacing the drive entirely or sending it to professionals for data recovery. But before that, here are some simple troubleshooting steps you can follow to give your drive one last shot before calling in the cavalry.
Let’s start with the most basic step. Make sure the hardware is connected properly. It might sound like too easy of a solution, but in most cases, a faulty connector cable or a loosely connected drive is at the heart of most issues. SSDs do not have any moving parts, so there is not a lot that can go wrong with them.
First, check if the SSD is running properly. To do this, fully restart the laptop and check for drive activity (if there is any indicator LED or similar). If there is no activity, turn off the laptop, remove all the connections to the SSD, and re-plug them, making sure there is no loose connection. You can also replace the old connector cables with new ones, in case you have a faulty cable. Finally, restart the laptop to see if everything runs smoothly.
Software and File System Issues
The instability of your laptop may not be a hardware-related issue at all. It can also be caused by some software failures and file system issues. To ensure there is no malicious software causing the crashes/lags, restart your laptop in safe mode to see if the problem persists. To do this, press ‘F4’ during startup in a Windows system.
Outdated operating system files and drivers can also cause such problems. Make sure you are on the latest version of your operating system and, if not, update it. Also, update your drivers to the latest version available.
You can also use the disk utility tool to check whether the system files on your SSD are healthy or corrupted, and in case it is, reinstall the operating system after formatting the drive. However, if none of these fixes work, it’s probably time to get a new SSD.
SMART is an acronym for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology. This technology is built into all the drives, whether HDD or SSD, and it reports potential errors in a drive. Operating systems and disk utility software, check the SMART status to report any potential issues the disk might be facing and warn you when such issues arise. You can also manually check for SMART signatures in the disk utility tool.
Now, concluding whether a drive is failing just based on SMART status can be tricky. Different utility software and operating systems may interpret the same SMART status differently, giving rise to a false positive. Also, an SSD might give a SMART error if its operational threshold value is exceeded. This does not mean your SSD is about to die. It’s better to contact your SSD manufacturer to understand what your drive’s SMART status information means.
Out of Date SSD Firmware or Motherboard BIOS
If your SSD Firmware is out of date, it might start to mimic a hardware failure. From lags, crashes to the infamous ‘Blue Screen of Death.’ If this is the case with your SSD, then it’s easy to fix.
If you have installed a third-party SSD in your system, you need to update the firmware manually. Most of the SSD manufacturers make their firmware updates available on their websites, so it’s just a matter of downloading and installing them. But if you have a pre-installed SSD, you might get the SSD firmware updates from your operating system’s end or laptop manufacturer’s website.
If your issue doesn’t resolve even after updating the software, then it is time to backup all the data and bring in the professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most popular questions that often comes up when talking about SSD troubleshooting:
Why Do SSDs Fail?
An SSD can fail because of a multitude of factors. There can be both software and hardware issues at play. An SSD consists of several parts like a controller, interfaces, and many others. If any of these malfunctions, an SSD can fail or start giving the signs of failure. In terms of software, anything from a corrupted file system to malicious software can cause SSD failures.
How Long Does An SSD Last?
SSDs have a lifespan of around ten years. However, it also depends on how much you use them. SSDs have a TBW (Terabytes Written) limit of 60 to 150 TB for a 250GB SSD. This means you can write about 60 to 150TB total throughout its lifetime without losing any performance.
Can An SSD Die Within Its Warranty Period?
Yes, an SSD can die within its warranty period. If any of the important components like the controller or the NAND cells themselves malfunction, it negatively impacts the lifespan of the SSD. Most manufacturers offer a replacement if the SSD dies within the warranty period.
Just like any other electronic component, SSDs can fail prematurely. As already mentioned, saving delays, frequent restarts, read-only eros, and crashes can all be signs of a dying SSD. In most cases, you can identify these failures through all the different methods we have already discussed in the article.
But if none of the mentioned tips don’t work, you should always contact a professional or take your SSD to the nearest service center. In case your SSD is under warranty, you will get a replacement drive from the service center. But in any case, it is always advisable to have all of your data backed up and ready to be restored.