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5 Hacks to Extend the Life and Performance of Your Computer’s SSD

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5 Hacks to Extend the Life and Performance of Your Computer’s SSD

Key Points

  • Keeping your SSD cool by improving airflow and using heatsinks can extend its lifespan.
  • Avoid transferring data too often to prevent write degradation and maintain SSD performance.
  • Invest in a quality power supply or surge protector to protect your SSD from power surges.
  • Keep your SSD at 60-70% capacity to prevent slowdowns and maintain optimal performance.
  • Regularly update your SSD’s firmware to improve performance and fix issues.

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are much more durable than Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable. While SSDs have a long lifespan, a few simple tricks can extend it further and improve performance.

When an SSD fails, it can take your data with it. If your operating system is installed on an SSD, you won’t be able to use your computer. Losing important data and reinstalling Windows is a massive headache. You can avoid that by following the steps outlined in this article. In this article, we will cover some tips to improve the longevity of your SSD and improve its performance.

1. Keep Your SSD Cool

Corsair PC fan to improve the airflow in a PC case.
Adding more fans or improving the airflow in your PC case reduces SSD temperatures, extending their lifespan.

As with most hardware, high temperatures cause an SSD to degrade faster than usual. Depending on where it’s located, lowering the temperature of your SSD is tricky. Typically, 2.5″ SATA SSDs are mounted to a tray at the front of your computer’s case, receiving airflow from your PC’s front intake fans. If you want to know more about the different types of SSDs, read this article.

If you’re using an M.2 SSD, it will be located on the motherboard, where it can’t receive much airflow. One solution for that is to buy an M.2 SSD that has a heatsink, which will passively cool it. Alternatively, cleaning your computer’s fans or installing more will improve airflow and keep your SSDs cool. An ideal temperature for an SSD is between 30-60 Celsius. Keeping your SD cool will extend the lifespan of your SSD.

2. Don’t Transfer Data Too Often

file transfer
Avoid excessively writing data to an SSD. SSDs are best at reading data.

Writing to an SSD (or any type of drive) will degrade it because SSDs suffer from write degradation, which means that data can only be written a number of times. So, to extend the life of your SSD, it’s best to avoid writing data too often.

Of course, regular usage won’t damage your SSD. For example, actions such as copying files from time to time, installing programs, and downloading games, won’t degrade your SSD that much. Your SSD will degrade quickly if it needs to regularly write an extreme amount of data. Refraining from transferring data too often will improve the lifespan of your SSD.

For instance, SSDs shouldn’t be used as shared server drives, with multiple people moving large amounts of data on a daily basis. The more data you write to an SSD, the faster it will fail. That’s why HDDs are generally used in NAS servers.

If you need to move large amounts of data, it’s recommended to use an HDD. Granted, HDDs have slower data transfer speeds, but they don’t have write degradation, and they’re much cheaper to replace. SSDs are best for reading data, not writing it.

3. Use a Quality Power Supply or Surge Protector

modular power supply
A good quality power supply will protect your SSD from power surges.

A power surge can permanently damage your SSDs. To protect against power surges, invest in a good quality power supply (PSU) for your system. PSUs have built-in surge protectors that protect against power surges. A good PSU will protect your SSD and extend its lifespan.

However, the quality of the built-in surge protector varies depending on the PSU model. Choosing a new PSU is challenging because there are so many brands and features to consider. You can take a look at this list of PSUs ranked by tier. You can also find our favorite 1000-watt PSUs here.

Alternatively, it’s recommended to plug your computer into a surge protector power strip. It will also help improve your cable management. Protecting your computer against power surges is important, even in regions with reliable power. A power surge can also brick your GPU and CPU.

4. Keep Your SSD at 60-70% Capacity

Windows showing drive information.
Having at least 30% of your SSD storage space free will keep it from slowing down

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SSDs slow down when they’re near full capacity. You might have noticed that your SSD’s copying speed slows down when it’s at 90% capacity. The reason for that is it takes longer for an SSD to locate available blocks to store data. So, to keep your SSD at optimal performance, it’s best to leave plenty of available storage. An SSD will likely start to slow down when it’s near 80% capacity.

If your system’s SSD contains a lot of media, consider moving the media to an HDD. Transferring data from your SSD to a backup drive will free up space on your SSD, improve its performance, and extend its lifespan. To offset your storage, consider installing a cheap HDD, another SSD, or an external drive. HDDs are very affordable these days and are great for bulk storage.

5. Update the Firmware

A picture of Crucial's Storage Executive utility software.
Installing the latest firmware update for your SSD can improve its lifespan and performance.

When it comes to installing an SSD, most people will simply plug it in and forget about it. However, the SSD could be lacking a key firmware update, which could improve performance and fix issues. There are also cases of old firmware causing problems with SSDs.

For example, there was an issue with the Samsung Evo 980 Pro where the old firmware permanently changed the drive to read-only mode. Samsung quickly released a firmware update to resolve the issue. However, most people haven’t updated their SSD’s firmware and continue to run into the problem. So, it’s important to make sure you’re using the latest firmware for your SSD.

To download a firmware update for your SSD, you need to visit the manufacturer’s website. Most brands have software that you can use to update SSD firmware and enable extra features. Some features can extend the lifespan of your SSD.

How to Check Your SSD’s Health

People assume drives break for seemingly no reason. However, it’s usually a gradual process. An SSD (or any drive for that matter) will show signs of near failure. SSDs slowly degrade every time they write data and they can only write a limited amount of data.

The limit is found in SSD specification sheets and measured in TeraBytes Written (TBW). Naturally, the higher the TBW, the better. To give you an idea, according to Samsung’s NVMe 990 datasheet, the SSD has 600 TBW for the 1TB drive and 1,200 TBW for the 2TB drive. The TBW varies depending on the SSD manufacturer, the storage technology used, and the quality of the SSD.

You can also use programs to check how far your SSD is from its maximum TBW. Bear in mind, that an SSD will usually continue to work beyond its TBW warranty, but the performance will slow down. One program you can use to check your SSD’s health is Crystal Disk Info. Crystal Disk Info will quickly scan your system’s drives and report any errors.

Crystal Disk Info showing a health SSD drive.
An example of a scan from Crystal Disk Info showing a healthy SSD.

It will also show Total Host Writes, which you can compare to your drive’s rated TBW. If the program labels your drive’s health as Caution or Bad, it may be time to consider a replacement, or at least backup your important files to cloud storage.

Keep in mind, that some drives will report a Total Host Reads number, but that’s not important because reading data from a drive won’t degrade it. On that note, most casual users will never get near their SSDs TBW, but it’s something to monitor.

Wrap Up

So, SSDs are remarkably fast and can last for years. With a few simple tricks, you can extend their lifespan even further while keeping the performance at peak levels. Following these hacks will allow you to enjoy lightning-fast load times and a responsive operating system.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an SSD last?

Most SSDs can last for a very long time, between five to 10 years. Other components in your system will likely fail long before your SSD does.

How do I know if my SSD has problems?

Download a storage monitoring tool like Crystal Disk Info. It will show your SSD’s health and areas that need improvement.

What lowers an SDD's lifespan?

There are many factors that can lower an SSD’s lifespan. For example, heat, excessive data writing, and power surges.

What's the best hack to keep my SSD healthy?

The best way to keep your SSD healthy is to avoid filling it up. Make sure to leave at least 30% capacity available.

Why is my SSD so slow?

Your SSD could be slow because it requires a firmware update. It may also be a low-quality SSD that doesn’t have enough DRAM cache.

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