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Like all tools, an SSD will wear out from use and eventually fail. Are there data on roughly how long the SSD's that Apple ships in it's portable line last?

From my research, it seems that the Toshiba OEM drive that comes on Apple MacBook Pros is much slower than the others on the market, but might this have an advantage in terms of longevity?

Basically, is Apple SSD durability longer than third party drives like Crucial, OWC, or others?

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    I think all SSD last longer than the computer itself last with general use. – Enrico Susatyo Dec 11 '12 at 6:52
  • Try downloading a program to test your SSD and see – cutrightjm Dec 11 '12 at 7:53
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    @Baumr SSDs are very complex and their speeds differ depending on whether the data is compressed or uncompressed and how much you write over what time and what sector sizes. So, I would not give too much about the benchmark chart. The perfomance largely depends on how you use the SSD. – gentmatt Dec 11 '12 at 15:46
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    @Baumr The latest Toshiba SSDs used by Apple use a Sandforce Controller which compresses the data before it is written to the disk. This will decrease the write activity. – gentmatt Dec 11 '12 at 15:48
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    You can watch for these signs as the Apple drives eventually start failing enough for people to get a feel for how reliable these are over time. Also - population failure statistics can help someone who manages 100s or more computers. For one user with one SSD - it's a bit of a crap shoot when your specific device will fail. Even if only 1/10 of 1% of the drives fail during three years of heavy use, yours could still last only 92 days despite the rest lasting far longer. – bmike Dec 11 '12 at 16:45
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A simplified answer to SSD lifetime would be: SSD is a Semiconductor devices build to last minimum 10 Years. Some of us still have computers from year 2000 or even before, thus older than 14 years.

With that said, looking closer at the SSD, it is a flash memory type semiconductor device and could develop leaking currents (means the cells loose they charge (memory).

There is difference in life (quality) of SSD's depending on manufacturer (Intel, Samsung ect.). To my knowledge, Intel is still the front runner on quality = life time, but Samsung is chasing them. It is really difficult to say who is the best, but one can use the warranty as a guide. For example Samsung gives 5 Years on the 840 model. That means it will last minimum 7-10 years, otherwise they would be out of business replacing all dead SSD's.

Just to clarify, I am talking about the most common type of SSD (using the Single layer memory cells), the dual layer lasts even longer but it is much more expensive.

Apple, Crucial, OWC ect. do NOT make the actual memory chips. The buy them from Semiconductor manufacturer like Samsung or Intel ect. and make the SSD boards with they name on it.

However, do not panic, the drives have a self repair capability!

They do that by simply replacing the dead cells.

The problem is there is limited supply (reserve) of new cells.

One of the biggest life limiting factor is the amount of data stored. Let's say when the SSD is 90% full, it will become a problem soon, since the drive tries to rotate the cells to preserve/avoid memory leakage.

Second life factor is the daily usage (read/write). Again, do not panic, a "normal" user will never see that problem.

All in all the SSD should last you longer than your computer screen or keyboard!

SSD are sensitive to heat (as any Semiconductor device) and will loose life if operated at elevate environment temperatures, means they love cold environment. Does not mean you have to move to Alaska :).

Just to give you an idea. Why do you think Intel invented the so called "I" processors they call it Intelligent CPU. Great Marketing by the way. The actual reason is the CPU becomes too hot if it operates at 100% all the time. Same applies to the SSD chips, so keep them cool and do not overload your drive and it will last and last.

And!, try not to use to much of the SSD health test softwares. That just stresses you SSD unnecessary.

It would be the same if you would constantly go to a doctor to verify if you healthy and he would give you a xray scan each time, just to tell you you are fine (but to much xray exposure will kill you).

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    And yeah, but "Apple SSD" I meant those that come with Apple devices: "From my research, it seems that the Toshiba OEM drive that comes on Apple MacBook Pros" – Baumr Mar 20 '13 at 0:24
  • I would not be surprised to find Samsungs flash memory chips inside Toshibas SSD. – user44516 Mar 20 '13 at 0:31
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According to http://www.anandtech.com/show/6023/the-nextgen-macbook-pro-with-retina-display-review/10, at least the new Retina MacBook Pros are equipped with an OEM version of the Samsung 830 series SSDs. Therefore their lifetime ratings should be similar. Regarding the performance of a filled SSD drive, have a look at http://www.anandtech.com/show/4863/the-samsung-ssd-830-review/6.

  • Neither of those mention lifetime though? – Baumr Dec 11 '12 at 12:10
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    xtremesystems.org/forums/… for lifetime ratings on some (including the 830) SSDs, and techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/pc-components/storage/… states 40 GB daily for 40 years. I doubt that Toshiba's will fare better just because they are slower. – MrMage Dec 11 '12 at 13:45
  • I've cleaned up some of the back and forth - Ask Different Chat and then editing is a nice way to refine an answer – bmike Jan 4 '13 at 21:11
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    Sorry to pipe in here, but I beg to differ. The life of SSD memory does depend on the speed of it. There are 2 modes the read and write. In read mode one just asks the cell are you High or Low. However to write one has to force the cell to change its state (HL or LH) and that is done applying higher Current/Voltage. To make that process faster one uses more I/V and that limits the life of a cell (overheating/leaking ect.) – user44516 Mar 20 '13 at 0:22
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From personal experience my SSD in a 2012 MacBook Pro Retina just failed on me after 2 years. Luckily I opted for AppleCare as I have no chance to repair this particular model myself without spending nearly thousand dollars on parts.

My first SSD I ever used was an Intel SSD 2nd Gen which failed after four years. Warranty time was three years with the dealer.

Unlike traditional hard drives there were no signs it would die soon so it is even more important to have current backups.

I would say it is safe to assume that electronics are made to last just a bit longer than the warranty it comes with. No matter which company it sells.

  • To contrast this I'm writing this on a 2012 Macbook Air which has been used daily as my work machine as a front-end web dev and has only needed a replacement battery in 7 years of hard work. I was really scared of the SSD failing so I bought a replacement hard drive many years ago but have never needed it. The problem is replacing this laptop with the modern equivalent is the SSD is soldered onto the main board so is much less repairable. – Alex Aug 6 at 19:31
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I arrived at this question hoping to find a definitive answer myself but it seems like there are so many factors which affect the answer of how long an SSD lasts - the answer is not simple.

Although I could not find information on the specific type of SSD used by Apple (in my Macbook Pro say), I was able to find some of the key factors.

Thought it would be useful to post here as a starting point to getting a fuller answer.

Factors:

  1. NAND type used - from a Drivesavers YouTube invo video I gleaned this info

    The durability of SSD very much depends on what type of NAND Flash it has, i.e. SLC vs MLC vs EMLC vs TLC.

    He says that the newer version - TLC NAND - is being used in some Samsung consumer products and has a programme erase limit of 1-2k per cell (which is tiny compared to the old SLC 100k writes limits).

    However, Samsung are doing pro enterprise grade versions with EMLC NAND - giving 30k writes per cell.

    Most commonly, write limits of 2 - 3k per cell are quoted for 2D MLC flash. This was apparently the vast majority of flash type used in 2014.

    But not sure 100% that this type of NAND is used by Apple.

  2. Compression

    The more data written to the drive the more write cycles used up, so the amount of usage of the drive will also be determined partly by the effectiveness of the compression baked into the drive controller.

    There's an article discussing the improvement in lifespan which results from better compression on SSD drives particularly the Sandforce controller:

    From other research I can see that some, but not all, Macbook Air machines, for example, had Sandforce controllers.

  3. It also depends on the endurance architecture used by the designer

    "the longevity difference between "good enough" and the best endurance architecture schemes can still be 2x, 3x or 100x - even when using the same memory"

    So not totally answering the question but hopefully enabling getting closer to the answer, e.g. if we can get hold of a list of Apple models with their various SSD types and then take into account the above factors.

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it has all been explained so well in the earlier posts, but my guts feeling tells me that for the quick reader the inherent criticality may not have fully come across.

So please forgive if i repeat most of the above statements, i just would like to try to put them into am more hands-on perspective.

Lack of information

You can't really estimate the endurance of your built in SSD until the manufacturer of the laptop lets you know which make/model/type of drive. In this situation you can't even guess how capable these drives are of self-recuperating worn out cells. The warranty only tells you, how long your drive (or mainboard, if soldered on) will be replaced at no cost, not how long your data is secure.

Untypical behaviour

Consumers buying notebooks are typically not aware of a critical SSD specific, when they think of SSD drive failures in the same way as of components like screens or touchpads would fail:

  • Sure, SSDs also fail statistically driven, like ordinary conponents (screens, monitors, ...). For example because the SSD-controller fails. This is covered by the other measure for reliability, which is referred to as "MTBF". But this is unrelated to the question of drive wear. And this kind of failure is typically extremely rare.

  • More relevant for the consumer is the fact that it is not the question IF SSDs will fail, but rather WHEN they fail. I.o.w.: SSDs fail with approx. 100% likelehood, as soon as they are worn out. I.e.: when data has been written to it for a technically determined total count and amount of data, specified by the manufacturer's choice at design time, by design. This fact is covered in the measure referred to as "DWPD".

This divergence is why i believe that the failure behaviour of SSDs and it's specific criticality is typically misunderstood by typical consumers.

Adding to that criticality (1): if one or few cells are failing without being recuperated by the automatic background wear-leveling in time, it may render the entire drive lost, not just the affected "cells". Which is opposed to what one got accustomed to back in the days of HDDs (magnetic hard drives with spinning platters), which often died stepwise, only partially at the beginning and over a prolongued period, thus far more predictable and manageable.

Adding to that criticality (2): notebooks with soldered on drives have often been sold with small disks (128, 256 GB; this seems to change these days in end of 2019), because bigger disks were unproportionally expensive. This fact will substantially aggravate the wear situation, as have been pointed out above: because users need that scarce space for their conent files they actually work with (and not just for the operating system and the applications), they have often utilised the drive storage capacity over 70% or more, which reduces the reserve for the wear-leveling mechanisms to do their healing job, which results in drive failures getting more likely.

Endurance is expensive

SSDs differ hugely in their endurance, as anybody can look up when comparing the respective measure "DWPD", often mentioned in the fine print of the tech specs of the drive. This tells you "exactly" how much data you can write how often to this drive until it is dead (where "exactly" actually means: "statistically significantly").

And looking up this specification unveils to which extent drive endurance correlates with price, which in turn allows to estimate what to expect from undocumented drives built into products which are designed for the average user, average use cases and average product life time, which is most likely not synonymous with "enterprise" use (as in "Enterprise SSD drives", which are those special build long lasting SSDs aimed for servers and storage systems). In this context, i deem any notebook product labeled as "Pro" to be member of the "average"-camp, not "enterprise".

Targeted use cases

Finally to put the likelihood of SSD failure into the hands-on perspective: As said above by the earlier posters: the more often cells have to change their state, i.e.: the more frequent you change data, the earlier the drive is worn out, which can be substantially earlier then the specified warranty period.

  • User type A: If your disk capacity is used by data to a typical degree, and your are regularly doing data intensive work, such as video editing of FullHD/2K/4k videos, or photo editing of full frame sensor photos, or recording music, and postprocess these media files (like cutting, changing compression level, adjusting color hue, ...), you are not that "average user" who may be safe to found their expectation for the drive longevity on the warranty specification of the disk (which is the least relevant criterion by the way). Instead you are the type of user which is also targeted by the "creator's laptops" marketing campaign these days.

  • User type B: If instead you are a gamer, or work with text documents and spreadsheets most of the time, you don't have to worry about the longevity aspect of your SSD.

Conclusion

When weighing the fact of SSDs soldered on to mainboards, think of it like you would consider buyng a car with undetachable tires. And in order to estimate the resell value of your investment, possibly also ask yourself whether you would buy such a device second handed.

All of this will matter only until SSD technology will have improved the endurance enough to put the situation out of it's criticality.

But for consumer grade drives that is not today, in late 2019.

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  • Just having read the intro tour about how to use apple.stackexchange.com and finding that it is explicitely encouraged to keep as APPLE product specific as possible, i deliberately attempted to abstract the above statements from APPLE, as i find them to fully pertain to MacBook products, while most of the technical aspects involved are not originated in the APPLE engineering domain, except for choosing the endurance of the built in drive and deciding to solder it on to the mainboard. I hope this still fits the overall concept. – user151222 Nov 29 at 13:47

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