SSD adoption is on the rise - but at what cost?

24 June 2016 by Michael Nuncic


While SSDs are becoming more and more popular amongst the public, it is important to consider what are the risks (and hidden costs) when choosing to use it.

Why choose SSD?

For starters, you get faster access to your data and your operating system performs quicker.  The many benefits of using a solid state disk (SSD) both privately and within a company are huge. It’s no wonder that in the last years the sales for traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) have fallen drastically, while SSD sales continue to rise. Some experts estimate that HDD unit sales will decrease from around 475 million in 2012 to 409 million in 2017, while SSDs will increase during the same period from 31 million to 227 million units.

More SSDs are being sold or already built-into notebooks, laptops, tablets and other mobile devices. But SSDs can also be found in desktops and even servers or other high-end storage devices.  Even so, a recent report states that SSDs won’t overtake HDDs any time soon because the latter are still much cheaper than SSDs when comparing disk space. It’s also worth noting that by the end of last year, only 15% of all new notebooks had SSDs built-in.

Due to their higher price tag, SSDs are mainly bought and used for high-end devices where speed is critical. This could be the case of a premium notebook which needs to deliver the latest quotes from the financial market in just a few seconds or perhaps of servers where big data is constantly processed or stored for high frequency trading.

SSD is frequently used for high-end hardware, but…

It is not surprising that in a recent study carried out by Kroll Ontrack around the world 92% of all participants already use SSD technology. The survey collected information from 2,000 of Kroll Ontrack´s data recovery clients across the globe.

… there is a downside to it: high data loss figures!

More than one third (38%) of all those who had been surveyed had already experienced a failure of their SSD while a whopping 64% had lost their precious data whilst using SSD technology.

In comparison with a similar study we carried out last year, it appears the trend for failures and data loss when using SSDs is growing. In 2015 only one third suffered failure difficulties and more than 61% had suffered a data loss (of those, 21% were unable to recover any of their data).

It seems as SSD technology becomes more popular and more affordable, data loss issues will also increase. In our survey, nearly three-quarters of all the survey participants said they tried to recover the data by using recovery software. This can become a critical problem as a DIY solution can sometimes make the problem worse and even, perhaps, render a recovery impossible.

While, according to this new survey, 80% of all SSDs are used primarily in mobile devices and laptops, other advanced storage technologies are also becoming more common amongst users. Currently, the global adoption of SSHD stands at nearly a quarter of all users (23%), helium drives at 3% and HAMR hard drives are already being used by 2% of the respondents.

The hidden expense of an SSD data loss

Recovering data from an SSD is much more complex than from an HDD. As data is saved in a completely different way, the technical process for an SSD recovery requires specialist tools and knowledge that can match the specific requirements of each brand and model of SSDs (currently there’s no standard for SSDs which means engineers need to treat each recovery as a unique case).

So when choosing an SSD it’s worth considering not only the higher price you pay for the speed, but if (or when) something goes wrong, the price of your recovery will also be higher and more time-demanding.

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