Solid state drives (SSDs) are becoming increasingly common in computers due to their faster speeds and lower power consumption compared to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). However, like all storage devices, SSDs can and do fail over time. Detecting early signs of SSD failure can help you take preventative steps before total failure and data loss occurs. Here are some tips on how to check if your SSD is failing in Windows.
1. Check for performance issues
One of the first signs of a failing SSD is a noticeable drop in performance. Applications and files may take longer to open and save. Boot times can increase dramatically. Data transfer speeds slow down significantly. If you notice your SSD-equipped computer or device running much slower than usual, the SSD could be having issues.
Run a benchmark test on the SSD to check its read/write speeds. Popular free tools include AS SSD Benchmark, CrystalDiskMark, and ATTO Disk Benchmark. Compare the test results to the rated specifications of your SSD when new – a large deviation indicates performance problems.
Slow SSD performance could also be caused by other factors like software misconfiguration, system file errors, or a full drive. Be sure to rule out these possibilities first before assuming the SSD is faulty.
2. Monitor SSD health status
Most SSDs today support S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) to monitor drive health status and reliability. S.M.A.R.T. attributes like client retries, erases, bad blocks and wear leveling count can indicate issues emerging on an SSD.
Windows 10 and 11 have built-in tools to check your SSD’s S.M.A.R.T. data. Open the Start menu and search for “Disk Drives” to find the application. Select your SSD, go to the Properties window and click the S.M.A.R.T. Data button. Review the reported values – anything nearing or exceeding the threshold indicates a problem.
Free tools like CrystalDiskInfo and Hard Disk Sentinel provide more detail on S.M.A.R.T. attributes and evaluative stats like drive health and temperature. Use these for regular monitoring of your SSD’s status.
Common problematic S.M.A.R.T. values
|Read Error Rate||High number of read errors|
|Throughput Performance||Low data transfer speed|
|Spin-Up Time||Longer spin-up time|
|Reallocated Sectors Count||Bad blocks on drive|
|Reported Uncorrectable Errors||Irrecoverable read errors|
|Command Timeout||Drive unresponsive to commands|
|Current Pending Sector Count||High bad block count|
3. Check for file system errors
SSD failures can sometimes manifest as file system problems like corrupted files, missing data and folders, or volume errors. This occurs because as blocks start going bad on the SSD, data integrity becomes compromised.
Run CHKDSK in Windows to scan for and fix disk errors. Open an elevated Command Prompt and type:
chkdsk C: /f /r /x
Replace C: with your SSD drive letter. This performs a full check, automatically fixes errors, and forces a dismount if needed.
Many errors detected by CHKDSK indicate physical problems on the SSD that warrant replacement. Be sure to also backup your data quickly if file system corruption is reported.
4. Listen for unusual noises from the SSD
Unlike mechanical hard drives, SSDs contain no moving parts and are generally silent. If you notice odd noises like squealing, grinding or clicking sounds coming from your computer, there may be a problem with the SSD.
The noises could indicate hardware failure within the drive, such as with the controller or NAND flash chips. The SSD should be inspected as the source of the noise before assuming other system components are the culprit.
5. Check Condition field in S.M.A.R.T. data
One of the most definitive signs of SSD failure is the Condition field in S.M.A.R.T. data being changed from “Good” to something else like “Bad” or “Caution.” This indicates multiple attributes have exceeded reliability levels and the SSD is in a fail state.
If the Condition is anything but “Good,” immediately backup your data and replace the SSD. Continuing to use it in a failed state will likely result in further degraded performance and potential data loss.
6. Monitor for overheating
Excessive heat can accelerate SSD failure by damaging delicate internal components. Most SSDs are designed to throttle performance if temperatures exceed safe operating limits.
Monitor your SSD temperature with hardware monitoring tools like Speccy and Open Hardware Monitor. If temperatures start consistently approaching 70°C or higher, take cooling measures like improved airflow and heat sinks.
Also check the system location. Poorly ventilated tight spots or direct sun exposure can heat SSDs to unsafe levels over time, shortening lifespan.
7. Update SSD firmware
Outdated firmware on your SSD can sometimes be the cause of performance issues or errors misinterpreted as hardware failure. Check the SSD manufacturer’s website for any available firmware updates.
Updating to the latest firmware can fix bugs, improve compatibility, and enhance drive capabilities. This may resolve problems like unusually slow speeds, high bad block counts, or file system issues.
8. Test with manufacturer diagnostics
Most SSD manufacturers provide their own drive diagnostic and health checking tools, like Samsung Magician, Intel SSD Toolbox, and Kingston SSD Manager. These can run more advanced tests on the SSD hardware.
If the tool reports hardware components like the controller or NAND flash are degrading or damaged, the SSD has definitely failed or will soon. RMA and replacement should be considered.
9. Check for unusual LED activity
On SSDs equipped with LED status lights, the LED behavior can provide clues to drive status. Flashing patterns like prolonged blinking or longer/shorter blinks could indicate issues or failures within the SSD.
Check the SSD product manual for an explanation of the LED indicators. If the LED indicates hardware faults, backup your data immediately and replace the drive.
10. Benchmark and compare to specs
Run an SSD benchmark tool like CrystalDiskMark and compare the measured sequential and random read/write speeds to the original rated specifications for your SSD model. This helps determine how much performance has degraded.
Newer SSDs normally retain 80-90% of original rated speeds even after wear. If speeds are considerably slower than expected – more than 10-20% deviation – it likely indicates components are failing inside the SSD.
Example SSD sequential read/write speed degradation
|Rated Speed||Current Speed||Degradation|
|Sequential Read||560 MB/s||354 MB/s||37% lower|
|Sequential Write||460 MB/s||251 MB/s||45% lower|
11. Verify connection and cables
Before assuming your SSD is defective, rule out any connection issues that could impact performance and stability.
Check that the SSD is plugged into the correct motherboard SATA or M.2 slot. Use the manufacturer recommended SATA cable for your SSD model and swap cables if needed.
Also inspect both ends of cables for bent pins or other damage. A faulty cable can cause data transfer problems similar to a failing drive.
12. Scan for viruses and malware
Viruses, spyware, and malware can sometimes aggressively access storage devices, leading to corruption and abnormal drive wear. Run a full system antivirus scan to check for and remove any malicious programs.
After cleaning any infections, test the SSD again. Performance should improve if a virus was the cause of issues.
SSD failure is inevitable as drives wear out from use over time, decreasing performance and reliability. But catching the early warning signs – slowed speeds, S.M.A.R.T. errors, unusual noises or behaviors – means you can take action before total failure results in data loss.
Monitoring tools like CrystalDiskInfo and benchmarking can help identify problems early. If your SSD tests indicate hardware components are degrading or damaged, replacement should be considered immediately to avoid further issues.
With proper SSD health monitoring and failure precautions, you can maximize the lifespan of your solid state drive and avoid unexpected data loss incidents.