Backblaze Data Shows SSD Failure Patterns Trending With Hard Drives

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A hot potato: For some time now, SSDs have become the preferred option over hard drives due to the lack of moving components, their inherent magnetic strength, ability to withstand vibration, and overall durability. However, a recent article from cloud storage provider Backblaze reveals that SSD failures tend to be as high as their hard drive counterparts.

Often praised for their increased speed, smaller footprint, and improved durability, SSDs have become a standard storage alternative for everyone from weekend gamers to data centers. A recent blog post by Andy Klein of Backblaze, however, tells a much different story regarding their alleged reliability and longevity.

Backblaze is a cloud storage and backup provider with four data centers in the United States and Europe, and they rely on both SSDs and hard drives for server boot drives, the storing logs, system diagnostics, and various system reporting tasks. Both types of drives perform the same function in Backblaze environments and support continuous file writing, reading, and deletion in addition to server startup operations.

In the company’s most recent annualized failure rate (AFR) data, they compared statistics for SSDs and HDDs running the same workloads in the same cloud storage environments. The data tells us that SSDs actually fail at a much lower rate than hard drives. However, Klein points out that many referenced hard drives were several years older than their SSD counterparts.

Backblaze’s AFR data, which shows hard drive failure rates from 2014 and solid state drives in 2018, reveals a remarkably similar pattern for hard drive failure rates (2014 to 2017) and rates SSD failure (2018 to 2021). This initial trend sets the stage for an interesting question: Will SSD failures continue to evolve in the same way? If so, we would expect Backblaze’s SSD failure rates to increase in the final quarters of 2021 and that will continue over the next several years.

Backblaze regularly publishes results regarding data center drive failures. While the evidence is far from conclusive, it raises the question of whether SSDs are truly more reliable and a better investment than hard drives for specific workloads and scenarios. Until more information becomes available, which we will certainly share with you, the debate will rage and the decision will continue to be driven by drive requirements, failure rates and provisioning costs.

Image credit: Thomas ulrich


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