Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Debunked: Your SSD won't lose data if left unplugged after all

Gordon Mah Ung | May 22, 2015
Internet: Your SSD likely won't lose data when unplugged. So says the man at the heart of the confusion over SSD life.

ssdupgrade primary 100055637 resized

If you're in a panic because the Internet told you that your shiny new SSD may lose data in "just a few days" when stored in a hot room, take a chill pill--it's apparently all a huge misunderstanding, according to the man who wrote the original presentation all the fear is based on.

In a conversation with Kent Smith of Seagate and Alvin Cox, the Seagate engineer who wrote the presentation that set the Internet abuzz, PCWorld was told we're all just reading it wrong.

"People have misunderstood the data that they're looking at," Smith said. 

Cox agreed saying there's no reason to fret. 

"I wouldn't worry about (losing data)," Cox told PCWorld. "This all pertains to end of life. As a consumer, an SSD product or even a flash product is never going to get to the point where it's temperature-dependent on retaining the data."

Why this matters: Users from New York to Rio De Janiero are freaking out over the risk of their SSDs losing data when powered off so we decided to go to the source of it all for the truth.

The original presentation dates back to when Cox was a chairman on a JEDEC committee, the industry group that blesses memory specs. It was intended to help data center and enterprise customers understand what could happen to an SSD--but only after it had reached the end of its useful life span and then stored at abnormal temperatures. It's not intended to be applied to an SSD in the prime of its life in either an enterprise or a consumer product.

But that's not how the Internet viewed it. The presentation--almost five years old now--surfaced in a forensic computing blog as to why an SSD could start to lose data in a short amount of time at high temperatures. Once media outlets jumped on the story, the ripple spread across the globe.

"The standards body for the microelectronics industry has found that Solid State Drives (SSD) can start to lose their data and become corrupted if they are left without power for as little as a week," said the International Business Times, one of the first to run with a story on the blog post. The IBT story also quoted Cox's presentation as recent despite it being five-years old. From there, the Internet seemed to amplify as fact that an SSD left unplugged would lose data--all citing Cox's JEDEC presentation.

But Cox and Smith said that's not correct. In fact, both said, an SSD that isn't worn out rarely experiences data errors. Data center use also subjects SSDs to far more "program/erase" cycles than a typical consumer could under any normal circumstances.


1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.