Solid state drives (SSDs) have become increasingly popular in computers over the past decade. They offer much faster read and write speeds compared to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). However, as with any storage technology, SSDs can sometimes fail or develop issues. So how can you test your SSD to determine if it is still in good working condition?
Check for physical damage
First, visually inspect the SSD for any physical damage. Look for dents, cracks, or bent pins on the connector. Physical damage can prevent the SSD from making proper electrical connections and can lead to data loss or failure to detect. If you see any visible damage, the SSD should be replaced.
Monitor health and usage with SSD utility software
Use a dedicated SSD utility software to view detailed health information and monitor performance. Software from the SSD manufacturer, such as Samsung Magician or Crucial Storage Executive, provides an overview of drive health using S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) data. This includes metrics like total data written, remaining lifespan, and temperature. Third party utilities like CrystalDiskInfo also read out S.M.A.R.T. attributes. Keep an eye out for high disk usage, abnormal temperature increases, or excessive data written compared to the drive’s lifespan. Some utilities also perform benchmark tests to measure sequential and random read/write speeds.
Check for errors in Event Viewer
On Windows, the Event Viewer logs disk errors which can indicate issues with an SSD. Navigate to “Windows Logs” > “System” and look for events from disk drivers containing words like “error”, “fail”, or “warning”. Frequent disk errors are a sign that the SSD is degrading or damaged. Specific error codes to look out for are 7 (bad block), 11 (read failure), and 15 (disk timeout).
Run the system file checker
The system file checker tool (SFC) scans Windows system files and replaces corrupted ones using a cache. To run SFC, open the command prompt as admin and enter “sfc /scannow”. Let the scan complete, which could take 30-60 minutes. If corrupted files are found, this indicates possible file system or hardware issues that could be caused by a bad SSD.
Check for bad sectors using CHKDSK
Chkdsk checks the file system integrity and scans for bad sectors on the disk. To run chkdsk, open the command prompt as admin and enter “chkdsk C: /f” (replace C: with your SSD drive letter if different). This performs a scan on the next reboot and automatically fixes errors. Pay attention to any mention of bad sectors. A gradually increasing bad sector count means the SSD is failing.
Monitor for overheating and thermal throttling
SSD controllers slow down transfers to prevent overheating once they reach certain temperature thresholds, known as thermal throttling. Over time, frequent thermal throttling can degrade performance. Use your SSD utility software to track drive temperature. Standard operating temps are around 30-50°C. Temperatures above 70°C indicate overheating issues. Also listen for loud fan noises which signify the SSD is heating up too much.
Check SSD health status using wmic
The Windows Management Instrumentation Command line (WMIC) can query SSD S.M.A.R.T. data to reveal health and usage statistics. At the command prompt, enter “wmic diskdrive get status” to view health status. A status of “OK” means the SSD is in good condition. Errors like “Pred Fail” indicate a failure is predicted to occur soon. Other status values like “Stressed” or “Error” also signify problems.
Look for worsening performance
One of the first signs of SSD failure is a noticeable drop in performance. Open applications, files, and games load more slowly. Transfer speeds when copying files are sluggish. As SSDs begin to fail, you may see more activity light flickering as data takes longer to read and write. Run a benchmark test like CrystalDiskMark at different times to compare speeds empirically. Degrading performance suggests the SSD is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Check for disabilities using DISKPART
The DISKPART command line tool in Windows provides disk partition information along with health status. Open the command prompt and enter “diskpart” then “list disk” to show connected disks. Select the SSD disk number then use “detail disk” to view properties. DISKPART lists any hardware abnormalities like read or write errors that indicate SSD problems.
Monitor host reads and writes
SSD controllers have a finite lifespan tied to how much data is written over time. The host reads and host writes S.M.A.R.T. attributes tracked by utilities reveal total data read from and written to the SSD. Compare these values to the drive’s total terabytes written (TBW) lifespan rating if available. A high percentage of writes used up suggests the SSD is worn out from excessive usage.
Check for premature wear using SSDLife
SSDLife is a free program that analyzes how worn out your SSD is based on usage statistics pulled from S.M.A.R.T. data. It rates remaining life as a percentage and estimates longevity. An SSD with less than 10% life remaining requires replacement soon. The app also gives tips like enabling TRIM and avoiding defragmentation to increase SSD lifespan.
Scan for problems using manufacturer tools
Most SSD manufacturers provide free bootable tools to scan for problems and diagnose failures. Examples include Samsung Magician, Kingston SSD Manager, and Western Digital SSD Dashboard. These run extensive tests on all aspects of the SSD from blocks and cells to controllers and S.M.A.R.T. data. If any errors are found, they can point you directly to the source of the problem.
Check for I/O errors in logs
Input/output (I/O) errors that occur during disk operations are recorded in system event logs. Constant I/O errors point to hardware malfunctions or connection issues with the SSD. Windows keeps these recorded in the System and Application logs under the “Error” type. Event descriptions usually mention the source driver and disk location. Look for recurring errors from the SSD indicating a problem.
Test with manufacturer diagnostic software
Most SSD makers offer a free diagnostic tool to thoroughly test and troubleshoot their drives. These include:
- Samsung Magician – Performs full diagnose and benchmark tests
- Crucial Storage Executive – Tests read/write speeds and vital drive attributes
- ADATA SSD Toolbox – Checks drive health via S.M.A.R.T. data
- Kingston SSD Manager – Analyzes usage statistics and drive optimization
Run the applicable software suite to determine if your SSD passes all tests and has optimal performance.
Check SSD validation using Hard Disk Sentinel
Hard Disk Sentinel is a great third party tool for checking overall SSD health and performance. After scanning your drive, it assigns an overall percentage health rating based on usage and failures detected. The app also displays S.M.A.R.T. disk attributes in detail. Monitor for high wear levels, I/O errors, erase failures, and invalid blocks.
Test data transfer speeds
As SSDs start to fail, data transfer rates decrease compared to the advertised speeds. Try copying a large file to and from the SSD and time each operation. Compare the average read and write speeds to your SSD’s specs. Significantly slower performance indicates wear and tear or bad blocks. Also try benchmark tools like CrystalDiskMark for quantitative measures.
Scan for SSD errors using chkdsk
Chkdsk checks the file system integrity of your SSD and can fix common errors. To perform an error scan, open Command Prompt as admin and enter “chkdsk C: /f” (use your SSD drive letter if not C:). This will schedule a chkdsk run on the next reboot that detects bad sectors, file system corruption, directory issues, and lost clusters. Review the results for any reported errors.
Verify connection integrity with Device Manager
Faulty connections between the SSD and motherboard can cause detection issues similar to a failed drive. Open Windows Device Manager and expand the Disk Drives section. Right click the SSD and select Properties > General. Make sure the device status says it is working properly. If not, try reseating SATA/power cables and updating driver software.
SSD failure starts with gradual performance degradation before complete drive failure. Keeping an eye on S.M.A.R.T health attributes, benchmark tests, error logs, and usage statistics provides early warning signs of future failure. When estimating SSD lifespan, the total terabytes written rating is a key factor. Any detected bad sectors, file system corruption, or physical damage means replacement is needed. Monitoring these indicators helps prevent unexpected SSD failure and ensures your most vital data is backed up in time.