SSDs are known for their speeds, long life, and data retention capacity. The SSDs are also priced higher than other storage devices due to these advantages.
An SSD can function for years without any loss of data. The storage memory doesn’t get corrupted easily. But what if you keep the SSD without powering it up? Can an SSD retain the data without a power supply? If it can be retained, how long will the data be intact in the SSD?
Let us find answers for all these in this article.
How Long Can SSD Last Without Power?
A typical SSD can last without power for 5 to 10 years. However, the actual lifetime of an SSD depends on the temperature of the environment it is stored. When it comes to data retention in an SSD without power, it may not last more than a year or two.
We will now discuss the different factors involved in the life of SSD and understand how data retention is affected without powering up the solid state drive.
What happens to the SSD when not powered up?
SSDs work using the NAND technology. The data is stored in the memory cells in terms of charges. Electrons flow into the cell when an SSD is powered and this keeps the memory cells alive.
When you stop powering the SSD, the charges from the cells start to decay gradually. Since there is no power input, the electron flow is absent. Therefore, the charges present inside the cells start to flow out. This decays the SSD and eventually, the device becomes dead.
This doesn’t happen overnight. The decay depends on two major factors. They are:
- Type of SSD
Temperature heavily affects the life of an SSD. If you keep the SSDs at normal room temperature, it can survive around 5 to 10 years. Also, the data can be retained for around 2 to 5 years.
But when you exceed the room temperature, the charges from the NAND cells can decay faster. Because heat provides more energy and the charges start to excite and flow out of the cells.
When the temperature reaches 30 degrees Celsius, data retention is further reduced and it can only be assured for a year. Similarly, the life of SSD is also reduced when the temperature exceeds the limit.
Therefore, keeping the SSD at lower temperatures can prevent the cells and protect the data for a long time.
Type of SSD
Another thing that affects the life of an SSD is the type. There are different types of SSDs manufactured to serve different purposes.
For example, you have Enterprise SSDs used in data centers and servers. These SSDs are manufactured to survive high temperatures and they can store a huge amount of data too.
But when you don’t power up this SSD, it cannot retain data for more than a week.
Similarly, consumer SSDs are delicate, and without power, they can survive 2 to 5 years. Their data retention is also around 1 year at 30 degrees Celsius. If you exceed this temperature, the life and data retention are reduced significantly.
Therefore, depending on the temperature and the type of SSD, the life of the SSD can be assumed. But it is quite difficult to exactly find out how long it may survive.
What temperature maximizes SSD retention without power?
SSDs must be stored in temperatures around 20℃ to 25℃ to have the maximum retention. According to the JEDEC, SSDs must be manufactured to retain data for at least one year at 30℃ without a power supply.
A typical SSD can survive working conditions ranging from 0℃ to 70℃. Therefore, you can store the SSD without power at a normal room temperature to have better life and data retention.
Storing the SSD at a very cold temperature will also damage the device. Because cold environments might also lead to charges decaying from the cells faster. Extreme cold temperatures can cause dry conditions which damages the cells in the SSD.
Therefore, it is best to store SSD without power in normal temperatures that range from 20 to 25℃. Exceeding this range to a higher or lower temperature might reduce the retention rate.
Does unpowered SSD data decay gradually or suddenly?
The data decay is gradual in an unpowered SSD. As we mentioned earlier, the cells in an SSD require the injection of electrons to keep up the charges. When the charges are not injected into the cells, the existing charges start to decay.
Electrons cannot stay in a state for a long time. They tend to flow and it is impossible to hold them in a certain state. So, when you keep the SSD unpowered, the electrons start to flow out of the cells gradually.
This gradual decay causes the data to be erased and eventually, all the data will be lost. This decay can become faster when there is a higher temperature in the surroundings. Because high temperature provides more energy for the electrons to get excited and jump from the cells.
Therefore, the data decay is gradual in an unpowered SSD. But it can become faster with high-temperature surroundings.
What are the best ways to store an SSD for long-term retention?
Here are some tips to store an SSD in the best way to get maximum data retention and life:
- Power up the SSD occasionally to have a long life and better data retention. Because storing the SSD without powering it up is a bad idea. So, you can simply plug in your SSD for some time and remove it.
- Store the SSD in normal room temperatures to avoid data loss.
- Check the TBW of the SSD before planning to store it. Because if your TBW is nearing the end, then the chances of retention are slim.
- Do not place the SSD near hot surroundings. Try to keep it in an open space with more air circulation.
- Don’t store the SSD in freezing temperatures. It can damage the device and also data retention is affected.
- Avoid keeping the SSD unpowered for a long time.
- Keep a backup of the SSD contents in another storage to avoid data loss.
These are ways in which you can preserve an SSD without losing the data in it. Also, you will have a long-lasting life with the SSD if you follow the above-mentioned tips.
Can firmware updates improve the retention time of SSDs?
No, firmware updates do not improve the retention of SSDs. Because firmware updates can only improve the functioning of SSDs. It doesn’t help the storage device when it is not powered up. Also, it doesn’t aid in data retention when the SSD is not powered up.
If you want to retain data in SSDs for a long time, then you must consider using them daily. When you use the SSDs continuously, you can retain them for long. Also, while using the SSDs, performing a firmware update can make the storage more efficient. It removes any kind of bugs present in the memory and makes it free from errors.
Therefore, if you want to benefit from the firmware updates, you must use the SSD continuously. Otherwise, firmware updates cannot help an unpowered SSD retain its data.
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Is there a way to monitor data health on an unpowered SSD?
No, currently there aren’t any technologies to monitor data health or data retention in unpowered SSDs. You have to plug them into a computer to check their health.
You can check the health of a powered SSD using the Windows command prompt and PowerShell.
Using Command Prompt to Check SSD Health
- Go to Command Prompt, type in “wmic” and hit enter.
- Now type in “diskdrive get status” and hit enter
- The command prompt will show Status OK. This means that the storage drives in your PC are functioning properly. The number of OKs displayed depends on the number of storage you have installed.
Using PowerShell to Check SSD Health
- Search for PowerShell in the Start menu and enter into the PowerShell App.
- Type the command: Get-PhysicalDisk and hit enter.
- This will show the status of storage devices on your PC and their health status.
- If your SSD is good, then it will display “Healthy” in the health status under your SSD model name.
These are the ways in which you can check the health of your SSD when it is powered up. But you cannot monitor the health of an unpowered SSD.
SSDs are an excellent storage solution when you keep using them. But if you keep the SSD unpowered for long, it cannot retain the data and loses its life. Therefore, SSDs must be kept under use or at least powered up occasionally to avoid data loss. If left unpowered, it can survive only a few years and it can retain data up to one or two years.