Can I use an SSD as a backup drive?

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies and flash memory to store data rather than a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD), which has spinning platters and moving read/write heads. SSDs have a number of advantages over traditional hard drives including faster read/write speeds, better reliability, and lower power consumption (Solid-state drive).

SSDs have no moving parts and instead store data in microchips, allowing nearly instantaneous access times and better performance, especially for frequent read/write operations. This makes SSDs significantly faster than HDDs for things like booting up computers or loading programs and files. SSDs are also more reliable since they are less prone to mechanical failure from shock or vibration. Additionally, SSDs consume less power, generate less heat, and operate silently compared to traditional hard drives (Solid-state storage).

SSD Reliability

SSDs have proven to be quite reliable over the years. According to Backblaze’s 2023 Mid-Year Drive Stats Review, the annualized failure rate for SSDs was just 0.92% as of June 2023 across over 3,000 drives in their data centers 1. This is even lower than the 1.04% failure rate observed at the end of 2021 in their previous report 2.

In general, SSDs tend to last a long time with normal use. Backblaze found the average lifespan to be over 4 years for most models. Some factors that can impact SSD longevity include write endurance, controller quality, and NAND flash type. But overall, modern SSDs have gotten quite dependable for both consumer and enterprise use.

When it comes to backing up important data, SSD reliability helps provide peace of mind that your files will remain intact and accessible over the lifespan of the drive. The chances of catastrophic SSD failure remain extremely low compared to traditional hard drives.

SSD as External Backup

Using an external SSD connected via USB or Thunderbolt is a convenient option for backups. External SSDs come in portable, rugged designs and offer very fast transfer speeds. For example, according to TechRadar, some portable SSDs can reach speeds up to 2,800MB/s over Thunderbolt 4.

The fast transfer rate of external SSDs makes them well-suited for performing regular backups of large amounts of data. Backing up 1TB over USB 3.2 can take hours with a traditional hard drive but may only take minutes with a high speed external SSD.

In addition, external SSDs are much less prone to failure or damage compared to external hard drives because they have no moving parts. This makes them a reliable choice for backups. An external SSD is a good way to add resilient and fast external storage for backups of a laptop or desktop computer.

Cloning to an Internal SSD

One way to use an SSD for backup is to clone your existing hard drive to an internal SSD. This allows you to create an exact copy of your hard drive that you can use for backup purposes. The process for cloning to an internal SSD is straightforward:

First, connect the new SSD to your computer internally, either by installing it in a drive bay or using a SATA-to-USB adapter. Make sure the SSD is recognized by your PC before proceeding.

Next, use drive cloning software like EaseUS Todo Backup to clone your entire hard drive to the SSD. The software copies all the data on your hard drive sector-by-sector to the SSD, including your operating system, programs, settings, and files.

Once the clone is complete, you can shut down your computer and swap the SSD into the primary boot drive position in place of your original hard drive. When you turn your PC back on, it will boot and run normally from the SSD clone. You can then store the original hard drive in a safe place as a backup.

The advantage of cloning to an internal SSD is that it provides a bootable backup drive you can quickly swap in if your primary hard drive fails. The downside is that it occupies space inside your computer case. But overall an internal SSD clone serves as a fast, convenient backup option.

SSD for Offsite Backup

Using SSDs for offsite or cloud backup has become popular due to their fast transfer speeds and reliability. Most cloud backup services like Backblaze and Dropbox support backing up to an external SSD drive. The fast sequential read/write speeds of SSDs allow you to quickly transfer large backup files to offsite or cloud storage. This makes them preferable over traditional hard drives for offsite backup purposes.

SSDs are also more reliable for offsite backup due to their lack of moving parts. The rugged design of many external SSDs like the Samsung T7 Shield also makes them well-suited for transporting to an offsite location. Some SSD manufacturers even provide backup software tailored for their drives to simplify cloning and scheduling regular backups. Overall, external SSDs provide an excellent option for offsite or cloud backup storage thanks to their speed, reliability and portable form factors.

Backup Software Considerations

When using an SSD as a backup drive, you may need to make some adjustments in your backup software for optimal performance and reliability. Many backup programs are designed with traditional hard drives in mind and make assumptions about disk behavior that don’t necessarily apply to SSDs.

For example, some backup software performs incremental backups by identifying which files have changed since the last backup. This involves a lot of reading from the backup disk to scan file metadata. SSDs have a limited number of write/erase cycles before cells wear out and can fail, so it’s best to minimize unnecessary disk scanning. Backup programs designed for SSDs utilize change-tracking at the operating system level to avoid repetitive full disk scans.

Another consideration is TRIM support. To maintain fast write speeds, SSDs need to engage in garbage collection and block reallocation behind the scenes. The TRIM command allows the operating system to notify the SSD which blocks of deleted files can be wiped and reused. However, TRIM could interfere with backup software expecting to find older versions of files. Some backup programs include options to disable TRIM on the backup SSD volume.

Other optimizations like compressing backup data before writing to disk can reduce wear and tear on SSD backup drives. Overall, choose backup software that’s SSD-aware, allowing you to configure options accordingly. Popular tools like EaseUS Todo Backup have fine-tuned SSD support built-in.

TRIM and Backup

TRIM is an SSD performance feature that impacts how backups work on solid state drives. TRIM stands for “unmap” in SSD terminology. It allows the SSD controller to mark deleted data blocks as empty and ready to be overwritten. This helps prevent performance degradation over time as more data is written and deleted on the SSD.

When TRIM is enabled, deleted files are permanently erased during garbage collection rather than just having the file system marker removed. This means when the SSD performs garbage collection, the backup software will no longer be able to recover and restore those deleted files from the SSD backup. Data recovery from SSDs becomes much more difficult with TRIM enabled.

Some backup software like Acronis True Image disables TRIM during backups to ensure deleted files can still be recovered from the backup image. So check your backup software settings to see how it handles TRIM. You may need to temporarily disable TRIM before performing backups to ensure recoverability of deleted files. Overall TRIM does improve day-to-day SSD performance but compromises the ability to restore older deleted versions of files from SSD backups.


Cost Comparison

When considering SSDs vs HDDs for backup storage, cost is often a major factor. SSDs have typically been more expensive per gigabyte compared to traditional HDDs. However, prices for SSDs have been dropping steadily while HDD prices have remained relatively flat.

According to this article, at the time of writing, hard drives cost around £0.03 / $0.04 per gigabyte. Meanwhile, SSDs cost approximately £0.17 / £0.19 per gigabyte. So you can get around 4-5 times the storage capacity with an HDD compared to an SSD for the same price.

That said, SSD prices have been rapidly declining over time. And for backups, you may not need huge multi-terabyte drives. The lower storage needs combined with the extra durability and performance of SSDs make them a compelling option despite the higher per-gigabyte cost.

For modest backup needs of say 500GB-1TB, an external SSD is quite affordable these days. And you get the benefits of much faster backups/restores along with more resilience against shocks and drops. So SSDs can represent a justifiable premium over HDDs for backup purposes depending on your specific needs.

Drawbacks of SSD Backup

While SSDs have advantages for backup, they also come with some limitations compared to traditional HDDs. Some key downsides to consider:

Cost – SSDs generally have a higher upfront cost per gigabyte compared to HDDs. So for large backup needs, HDDs may be more budget-friendly.

Limited capacities – Consumer SSD capacities max out at around 4TB currently, while HDDs go much higher. So HDDs allow greater amounts of data storage in a single drive.

Lifespan – SSDs can wear out after a certain number of write cycles, while HDDs retain data indefinitely as long as they function mechanically. However, modern SSDs generally last for many years of normal use. [1]

File recovery – Data recovery from a failed SSD can be difficult or impossible. With HDDs, it’s often easier to recover data from a damaged drive.

Vulnerable to corruption – Sudden power loss while writing data can cause file corruption on SSDs. HDDs are less prone to this issue.

So in certain backup scenarios, HDDs may still offer advantages over SSDs. But for many users, SSD speed and ruggedness outweigh the downsides.


Using an SSD as a backup drive does have some advantages over traditional hard drives, but also some drawbacks to consider. On the plus side, SSDs generally have faster read/write speeds, lower latency, generate less heat and noise, and can better withstand bumps and vibration. This can make tasks like backing up large amounts of data quicker and easier. However, SSDs tend to be more expensive per gigabyte than HDDs, have a limited number of write cycles, and may require special backup software to avoid performance degradation over time.

For an external drive used primarily for backup purposes, an SSD can provide fast backup and restore times. Just be prepared to pay more upfront. Using an SSD as an internal clone drive can also speed up workflow. However, for archival or offline backups, a traditional hard drive is likely the more cost-effective solution.

In the end, weigh your specific needs and budget. For many users, a fast external SSD used in conjunction with a higher capacity HDD for archiving may give you the best of both worlds when it comes to backup drives.