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Old 01-23-2019, 11:34 AM   #21
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I recommend to my friends a local, reputable shop to do this if they are not capable. Geek Squad from Best Buy is another option. My non-tech friends have been happy with their work in this kind of area. Not cheap, but they know this stuff.
Thanks for your comments. I've never used the Geek Squad or other shops but maybe someday will. I'm capable of more in tech but want to focus my efforts on other areas so I try to keep hands off mostly on hardware and software.
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:38 AM   #22
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Thanks for your comments. I've never used the Geek Squad or other shops but maybe someday will. I'm capable of more in tech but want to focus my efforts on other areas so I try to keep hands off mostly on hardware and software.
The other alternative is to go Apple and get their plan for service. I'm sure the fans here can tell you about it. Very favorable from everyone I've heard. But again, not cheap.
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:55 AM   #23
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The other alternative is to go Apple and get their plan for service. I'm sure the fans here can tell you about it. Very favorable from everyone I've heard. But again, not cheap.
Since my system is newish not a good time to switch. I understand that Apple is not the best platform for Excel which I use a lot. Do really like my XR iPhone though.
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:59 AM   #24
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OK, I poked around and found some freeware "CrystalDiskInfo" which basically just shows the S.M.A.R.T. values (these are an industry standard set of health values that disk drives report).


Running it on my damaged drive shows all kinds of bad values over the warning threshold. Yikes!


I'll definitely keep an eye on my SSDs from here on out. If I had paid attention, I would have had warning.
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Old 01-23-2019, 12:19 PM   #25
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Joe,

Your post does spark a question:

In the past, there were firms that marketed to business that would generally be able to restore/recover the contents of a failed (electro-mechanical) hard drive. The cost would generally be several thousand dollars for the full service (ie time in the clean room, purchase of a sacrificial drive etc. etc.)

I made use of this service once while in the w*rking world. The results were good. For $100 I was able to get a list of all the files that were on the drive and then for the full $2,000 I was able to get all the files back on a new USB external drive.

The question is, are these folks able to deal with SSD at all? I suspect not in that opening up the internals of an electro-mechanical drive would be very different than accessing the internals of solid state devices.

For the past few years, I worried less about hard drive failur in that it seemed money could solve the problem, but I am now rethinking that position.

Thanks for the words of warning.

-gauss
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Old 01-23-2019, 12:23 PM   #26
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I'm still on the fence and haven't bought a single SSD yet. This thread makes me think that before using one, I should test my backup and restore with SSD before anything else.
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Old 01-23-2019, 12:51 PM   #27
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...it said it was automatic compression since my disk was getting full. This didn't completely surprise me since I was pretty full, but... In retrospect, it was the disk system massively trying to reorganize itself due to errors.
You should never let a SSD ever get to the point of "getting full". Going beyond even 80% is likely a mistake. SSDs have a limited rewrite life and the more full the drive, the more rewriting that will take place and rapidly cause the drive to fail once it gets beyond a certain point. In general, it's better to keep the SSD just as a system drive and then a big traditional HDD for your data. This will keep your SSD from filling and suffering a shortened life.
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Old 01-23-2019, 01:14 PM   #28
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You should never let a SSD ever get to the point of "getting full". Going beyond even 80% is likely a mistake. SSDs have a limited rewrite life and the more full the drive, the more rewriting that will take place and rapidly cause the drive to fail once it gets beyond a certain point. In general, it's better to keep the SSD just as a system drive and then a big traditional HDD for your data. This will keep your SSD from filling and suffering a shortened life.
Would you happen to know if this applies on a partition by partition basis too, for a drive with multiple partitions?

I am thinking of an example with a drive with 3 partitions and the 1st partition is "quite full" and the other two are fairly empty.

Are the low level SDD controllers smart enough to not keep writing the same physical cells on logical partition 1 when the other two are sparsely used?

Said a bit differently, are the low level memory cells statically assigned to a partition or are they reallocated on the fly.

I am facing that scenario right now.

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Old 01-23-2019, 01:19 PM   #29
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Clonezilla is a partition and disk imaging/cloning program...

https://clonezilla.org/

Clonezilla boots off its own CD or flash drive and can back up any OS, byte for byte.

Every device will eventually fail so good backups are essential.
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Old 01-23-2019, 02:14 PM   #30
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A couple of comments from a former SSD firmware engineer:

SMART is an industry standard in the protocol that is used to retrieve the statistics from the drive. There are some SMART attributes that are fairly standardized, and then each vendor may have vendor specific attributes that report whatever information those vendors think is useful. In general, if you have SMART attributes that are indicating bad things, then yes, you should get the data off that drive immediately and then stop using it. Most failing drives will start failing SMART attributes somewhat before the drive catastrophically fails. Probably the key one to look at would be the number of grown bad blocks on the drive - I would be worried if it were more than a few.

Overall I believe that SSDs are on average more reliable than mechanical spin drives. I have seen data that claims they are about twice as reliable as HDDs, but that is from my former employer, so maybe take that with a grain of salt. On the other hand, there are no moving parts and no issues with altitude, dust, shock, vibration, humidity, or head alignment, so it seems plausible.

The SSDs in the Macs that @braumeister mentioned in post #18 almost certainly support SMART. What Apple probably means is that they don't want to encourage their users to rely on SMART data. My guess, having worked with Apple, is that they don't like any standard that they don't fully control. I bet if you pulled the SSD from one of those machines, stuck it in a Windows box with a SMART utility, you could read the SMART data just fine. Remember, SSDs are OS and hardware agnostic.

I'm going to disagree a little with what njhowie said about SSDs getting full in post #27. First, because of how SSDs write data, they don't need to move files around the way traditional HDDs do as they get close to full. Second, even when an SSD reports that it is 100% full, there is still spare space (often called overprovisioning in the literature) for it to be able to operate at full speed. Finally, when SSDs are life tested, they are written until they are 100% full, so they are engineered and spec'd and manufactured to last the full waranteed lifetime of the drive (usually expressed in terabytes written, or TBW) when they are full.

@gauss, you should have no worries with the situation you describe in post #28. First, for all of the reasons in the previous paragraph. Second, the way SSDs work under the hood is that there is little to no correlation between the host logical block address and the physical disk address where your data is stored. To maximize longevity, the data is written in different places, so when the host writes to LBA #137 the first time, it may be stored on flash chip #3 block #6 page #487, but the second time the host writes to LBA #137, it may be stored on flash chip #8 block #9 page #2. IOW, there is absolutely zero correlation between your host partition and where the data is stored on the drive.

Further, the SSD keeps track of how many times it writes to each block and writes in such a way as to use them up equally. That being said, unless you're a ridiculous power user, if you do the math you'll find that you'll probably wear out your SSD after decades of average use.
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Old 01-23-2019, 02:56 PM   #31
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A couple of comments from a former SSD firmware engineer:.

Very informative and well-written, thanks for posting. It answered several I wonder? questions I have about drives of different types. As a home user, I definitely am not a power user and doubt I pound on my disks either with new activity or continuous backup through Time Machine which Im guessing is incremental so also gentle on the hardware.
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:14 PM   #32
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Joe,

Your post does spark a question:

... [about firms that did physical recovery]...
That's a great question. The whole setup is different. I suppose there is software out there that can ignore errors and plow through to read whatever it can, then try to reconstruct. I would bet most can be recovered this way as long as the controller cooperates in some way.

As for physical extraction, well that's more complicated. Surface mount chips can be lifted and read, at significant expense. But then you have the firmware which put this data down in a possible proprietary format. I will say that when I retire this computer, I'm going to grind off the integrated SSD chip. I have also destroyed old USB keys I didn't want any more by grinding off the chips. Just don't want to take chances, even after a low level format. On my computer, formatting won't work so a physical destruction will be required.

Upshot: I don't know, but I'm guessing people are working on it from various angles.

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A couple of comments from a former SSD firmware engineer:
...
Great post, SecondCor. Thanks for the info.
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Primary SSD failed on my computer at 4 years
Old 01-23-2019, 03:17 PM   #33
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Primary SSD failed on my computer at 4 years

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Very informative and well-written, thanks for posting.

+1
Im a borderline power user of Macs (using them since 87). But my conservative/skeptical nature wont let me rely totally on their reliability. I have Time Machine running all the time for constant incremental backup but I also have the whole thing backed up every night to two separate drives, one using SuperDuper and the other using Carbon Copy Cloner. Call me paranoid but I feel pretty safe. There is still another backup in the fireproof safe that is updated monthly.
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Old 01-23-2019, 03:23 PM   #34
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I use several SSDs for the OS, program files, and Photoshop's scratch disk. I have two 4TB internal HDDs that are configured in RAID for data; these are automatically backed up to a WD RAID as well. So, none of the OS, or program files are backed up, but I have essentially 4 copies of all of my data at any given time. I keep my crucial files on DB, so they're always in the cloud, and always accessible. Periodically, I make backups to external HDDs and place them alternately in the safe deposit box. I've never had an SSD fail, but have had three HDDs, one thumb drive and one memory card fail in the past 20 years.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:09 PM   #35
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I've never had an SSD fail, but have had one thumb drive and one memory card fail in the past 20 years.
My tally for the last 20 years, from a fading memory:
- 2 memory cards
- 1 HDD
- 1 SSD
- 2 thumbs
- 1 CD-RW drive (remember those?)

I treated the memory cards nicely too, using all the static precautions.

This tally is over many, many units (at least 10 different computers).

So, stuff happens.

I like the physical abuse the SSDs can take. I've just learned to be cautious now after they have lived a life of many cycles.

In the end, I've intentionally destroyed many, many, many CDs, DVDs, HDDs, and thumb drives for security purposes as they became obsolete compared to the few failures I've had.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:18 PM   #36
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Bummer, that's never fun...

I currently have three SSD's in my desktop computer, and one in my laptop. My oldest is a 250GB drive for Windows and program files. It's a bit over four years old and still going strong.

I periodically check my drive condition with Crystal Disk Info. The "wear leveling count" will give you a good idea how much life is left on the drive. It starts at 100 and counts down. My four year old drive is down to 96 now, so I've probably got a lot of life left on that drive.

One of my other SSD's is a three year old 1GB drive. It's one year newer, but the wear leveling count is already down to 97 since I write a lot of data to it (video work).

I will most likely replace the drives and/or computer for other reasons before they fail, but a drive failure is only one way of many that I could lose data. I learned the hard way to backup my computer nightly and keep multiple backups on multiple drives.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:28 PM   #37
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My tally for the last 20 years, from a fading memory:
- 2 memory cards
- 1 HDD
- 1 SSD
- 2 thumbs
- 1 CD-RW drive (remember those?)
I've had several RAM memory chips fail, but those were always within the first week or two. If they made it past that, odds are there were going to last a long time. When mine failed, I had odd errors like you described. I thought my hard drive was failing, but after a lot of testing I traced it to the RAM chips.

I've had a few standard hard drives fail. They typically started developing bad sectors before going for good. That's when I learned the importance of backing up. I lost more data in the early years than I care to remember.

I had a couple CD drives fail too, though the CDRW discs failed quite frequently (some became unreadable after just a few months).

I'm on my 6th or 7th SSD (various computers) and thankfully haven't had one fail yet.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:43 PM   #38
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I will say that when I retire this computer, I'm going to grind off the integrated SSD chip. I have also destroyed old USB keys I didn't want any more by grinding off the chips. Just don't want to take chances, even after a low level format. On my computer, formatting won't work so a physical destruction will be required.
I keep my drives encrypted these days. The bits on a disk (any kind) just look like random numbers unless they can decrypt it.

I'm 100% comfortable disposing of an encrypted old disk.
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:19 PM   #39
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I keep my drives encrypted these days. The bits on a disk (any kind) just look like random numbers unless they can decrypt it.

I'm 100% comfortable disposing of an encrypted old disk.
Whatcha using for encryption? Bitlocker - Windows pro? Something else? Apple ecosystem? Linux ecosystem?


I don't know if I want to cough up for Windows Pro, but I may go there...
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:37 PM   #40
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Backup. For crucial data (Quicken, for example) backup on each use to a removable media. I back my to a USB button drive. Saved me big time!

Thanks Joe

Im buying a flash drive tonight!!
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