Looking for a boot drive? Here’s why you should go for an SSD, not an HDD

New findings from cloud storage and backup company Backblaze has shed light on the long-term reliability of SSDs versus HDDs, when deployed as boot drives.

The second edition of the Backblaze drive statistics report, based on the storage hardware deployed across the company’s data centers, shows the annualized failure rate (AFR) of HDD boot drives is roughly twice that of SSD equivalents.

The longevity of SSDs is accentuated particularly beyond the fifth year of usage, at which point 3.55% of hard drives suffer a failure, compared with only 0.92% of SSDs.

SSD vs HDD

Although the data collected by Backblaze is representative of performance in only one environment, and cannot be used as a marker for the reliability of SSDs and hard drives outside of a boot drive context, the company believes it is sufficient to draw clear conclusions about the longevity of both types of storage device.

“At this point, we can reasonably claim that SSDs are more reliable than HDDs, at least when used as boot drives in our environment. This supports the anecdotal stories and educated guesses made by our readers in the past year or so,” wrote Backblaze.

However, the company also concedes the SSD failure rate is likely to rise dramatically after the fifth year of use, following a similar pattern to hard drives. For context, by the eighth year, HDD boot drives record an AFR of 6.41%.

“It is highly certain that the failure rate of SSDs will eventually start to rise,” said the firm. “It is also possible that at some point the SSDs could hit the wall, perhaps when they start to reach their media wearout limits.”

With this in mind, the company, which deployed SSD boot drives at scale for the first time in 2018, will monitor closely for signs of a dip in AFR, which will presumably be reflected in next year’s report.

The falling cost per capacity of SSDs, coupled with the performance advantage from a speed and reliability perspective, means there are few remaining reasons to opt for a hard disk drive – especially for use as a boot drive.

For organizations considering making the shift themselves, the new figures from Backblaze might just be enough to tip the scales.

Our list of the best portable SSDs on the market

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