How to tell your SSD is about to fail

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

At the weekend I was forced to reinstall Windows after I encountered several problems while trying to boot.

Thankfully, I didn’t lose anything terribly important, but it was a lesson I had to relearn about SSDs – they are not invincible.

While flash storage in the form of SSDs is hardier than physical platter drives seen in hard drives (HDDs) that doesn’t mean they are fail-proof and, as time passes, they can fail.

The trouble is that, unlike hard drives which always seem to get louder as they age and loudest when they are about to fail, it’s not always easy to tell when an SSD is about to die.

Not easy, but also not impossible. According to Tony Yu, country manager for Adata in South Africa, there are some warning signs that might point to an imminent drive failure.

“When a computer attempts to read or save a file, but it takes unusually long, the system will eventually abandon the task and give an error message. These are known as bad blocks and can result in you not being able to read from or write files to the SSD,” explains Yu.

These bad blocks can result in you needing to repair your PC or file systems or in some instances complete data loss. This might not be a problem when writing to the disk but if you’re trying to read files that’s a problem.

“If you are getting frequent errors when moving files or your system is running slow, particularly when you access large files, you should consider running a diagnostic tool to determine whether there are any physical problems with your drive,” the Adata country manager explains.

Booting problems

While error messages are annoying most of the time, if your PC is kicking out errors and requesting to be repaired it might mean your SSD is on the way out.

Of course, it could mean that your PC didn’t shut down properly but if you notice an error coming up constantly try using your operating system’s built-in repair tools. Take note however that data might be lost while repairing the drive so take some time to back up important content.

The biggest sign that your SSD is about to fail, according to Yu, is a failure to boot.

“If you are experiencing this, I would suggest that you immediately back up your data, because this is usually caused by a bad block or an impending SSD failure,” he explains.

At this point, it’s recommended that you backup any data you might have and then format the drive. If that doesn’t work and you still run into problems while booting it might be time to bin the drive, except maybe not.

If you can’t format the drive but also can’t boot to it you might have another option to at least recover your files.

“If you are unable to save to the drive, we recommend that you try and connect it to another device as an external or secondary hard drive. That way, if the SSD is still working, you can at least recover all your files and delete all the data before discarding your SSD,” says Yu.

We also have one final tip for you that will: A) limit the amount of reads and writes your SSD makes and; B) keep storage capacity open, so long as you have a secondary drive.

Windows has a number of folders that save to the operating system drive by default which are:

  • 3D Objects
  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos

While you might not access them regularly Windows saves any content in these folders to the drive where your OS is installed and that could fill up your SSD very quickly.

To change this right-click on the folder you want to change the location of and click Properties.

From there look for the tab labeled Location and click it.

Once in the Location tab click on Move… and select the drive you’d like to move the folder to. Once you’ve selected the drive and file/folder you want to move that folder too, click Apply and you’re set.


[Image – CC BY 2.0 Laineema]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.