Can SSDs Have Bad Sectors? The Facts Explained
A common problem with hard drives is the presence of bad sectors, which are segments of the storage that become damaged and unusable, eventually leading to issues with files on your computer. Solid-state drives are considered superior to hard drives in many ways, but do they avoid this particular problem?
- How SSDs Manage Bad Sectors
- Symptoms of Bad Sectors on SSDs
- How To Test Bad Sectors
- How To Fix Issues With a Bad Sector on Your SSD
- Final Thoughts
SSDs can have bad sectors, although rarely. Bad sectors on SSDs occur as a result of physical damage or aging. Typically, SSDs can manage one bad sector by removing it and transferring the files to another sector. However, at other times you may need to fix this issue yourself.
In this article, I will explain everything you need to know about the possibility of bad sectors in SSDs and what they mean. I will also explain some potential fixes for this problem.
How SSDs Manage Bad Sectors
Bad sectors were originally a hard drive problem. Hard drives are storage devices that used to be the standard for most computers and are still commonly used for secondary storage. These hard drives store data on spinning discs, with each disk containing different tracks and each track containing different sectors.
Sometimes, some of these sectors become damaged and unreliable, causing issues with the files stored in them. These problematic sectors are called bad sectors.
SSDs became popular because of their solid-state technology, which does not require spinning discs and provides much faster transfer speeds.
SSDs seem to be less vulnerable as far as bad sectors are concerned. However, an SSD can have a bad sector. Generally, you may not be able to notice if there’s only one bad sector because SSDs are programmed to manage these issues when they can.
For instance, if the SSD detects a sector that has become unreadable or damaged, it will try to recover any lost data and move it to another healthy sector. On the other hand, the bad sector becomes useless and is removed from the usable part of the SSD. All of this happens without you needing to do anything.
This ability of SSDs to monitor and fix bad sectors explains why you typically don’t hear much about this particular issue with these devices. However, when you have more than one bad sector in your storage device, you may notice it and need to take some steps to fix any issues.
It’s normal to have some bad sectors in your SSD. As long as the amount of bad sectors doesn’t change, there’s nothing to worry about. You can trust the SSD firmware to keep the device operational.
What Are Bad Sectors in SSDs?
To understand what you need to do, you first need to know what bad sectors are and what causes them in devices like SSDs.
Bad sectors are sectors of your storage that become damaged or worn out, causing the data stored inside them to become unreadable or even destroyed. These sectors are common in hard drives because these storage devices have mechanical parts that move and are prone to physical damage and wear.
If a physical part of the hard drive is damaged somehow, the memory cells in this part may stop working. Consequently, the information stored in these memory cells will no longer be accessible. In your device, the files stored in bad sectors appear corrupted.
Unlike hard drives, SSDs have no mechanical parts, so the chances of them developing bad sectors in the first place are low. However, SSDs are also made of physical components that can wear out and become damaged due to physical stress or heat.
As a result, the memory cells start to show signs of damage and may eventually fail, causing issues with your storage.
Most high-quality SSDs are unlikely to have bad sectors, but they can develop these issues if they sustain damage. Some lower-quality SSDs may come with bad sectors or may develop them with time as they age.
Symptoms of Bad Sectors on SSDs
As mentioned above, SSDs have a system to detect and remove bad sectors. You will not be able to notice the difference that one bad sector can make, but you may start to see symptoms if there are multiple unreliable sectors.
Here are some signs that your SSD has several bad sectors:
Your Files Are Corrupted
The main issue caused by bad sectors is unreadable or destroyed files. While, typically, the SSD tries to repair the damage by moving files from a bad sector to a reliable one, sometimes it is not able to do so. Consequently, the data stored in these parts that have become unusable will become corrupted.
A corrupted file does not allow you to open, read, or modify it in any way. This problem typically occurs when there is a problem in the storage, like a bad sector in an SSD, but also in other cases, like when a virus targets your files.
In some cases, a bad sector could delete the data stored there. As a result, you’ll be unable to access the files stored in the bad sector.
If you notice that you are losing access to many files and have ruled out any other potential causes like malware, you may consider bad sectors as a cause.
Your Device May Start To Freeze or Slow Down
An SSD contains many sectors, and if the majority of them become damaged or unreliable, the device itself may lose its function entirely. As a result, your computer may be unable to recognize the SSD as a storage device.
If the SSD in question happens to be the main internal storage of your computer, you will notice other seemingly unrelated issues, like freezing or slowing down.
As your device is scrambling to figure out what parts of your storage device are usable, it will start to show issues in different aspects. Besides freezing, your computer may show the blue screen of death often.
The SSD Will Be Very Slow
The more bad sectors there are, the less capacity your SSD will have to perform. As a result, it may slow down considerably, meaning it will take a long time to read and open files. Sometimes, you may not even be able to open specific files.
A slow SSD may also cause other issues. If the SSD also stores your operating system, your computer may take a long time to boot. It may also take a long time for your computer to respond to your commands.
You Get an Error Message While Booting
Sometimes, your device will let you know there are SSD issues as soon as you try to turn it on. Typically, a black screen will appear as you boot the computer, letting you know that the disc has failed to boot. This means that your SSD is not working properly, and your device cannot recognize it.
How To Test Bad Sectors
If you notice any of the above signs, you must test for bad sectors to understand what’s happening with your device. There are a few ways to test and detect bad sectors.
The surface test is made to scan hard discs and SSDs for bad sectors. Performing this test will let you know if you have any bad sectors and, if you do, how many. The test will also allow you to fix the situation. Here’s what you can do:
To do a surface test, you must have a disc partition program on your computer. You can download it from the internet if you don’t have one.
- Once you open the program, you can see your SSD.
- Right-click on the drive. A menu of options will appear.
- Select Surface Test.
- Press Start to confirm.
- Depending on the program, you may be prompted to select a few other options, but typically all you have to do after pressing start is wait.
- Once the test is done, you can see if your SSD has bad sectors and how many of them there are.
- If you want to attempt to fix the issue, you can right-click on the drive again and click Check partition and Fix errors in this partition.
- Wait for it to be finished, and then click OK to confirm.
The command prompt is very powerful, allowing you to perform many essential tasks for your computer. One of its many functions is detecting and fixing bad sectors on hard drives and SSDs. Follow the instructions below to detect bad sectors in your SSD:
- Go to the Start button or press the Windows button on your keyboard to open the Start menu.
- Type cmd in the taskbar.
- Select Run as Administrator.
- In the command prompt, type chkdsk/? and press Enter to see a list of all the drives on your device.
- Type chkdsk D: (or any other letter, depending on the drive you want to check) and then Enter to find out if there are any issues with the chosen device.
- If you want to fix any problems with a particular drive, type chkdsk (name of the drive): /f, and then Enter.
You can also use Partition Properties to detect issues with your SSD. This method is relatively easier and does not require additional software to check the bad sectors. Here’s how you can use partition properties to find out about the state of your SSD.
- Go to This PC by clicking on the icon on your desktop or finding it using the Search bar.
- Find the SSD you want to test and right-click on it.
- Select Properties from the options on the menu that will appear.
- A new window will open; find Tools.
- In the Tools tab, select Check and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.
- Alternatively, you can select Automatically fix file system errors.
- Press Start and then wait for the results.
How To Fix Issues With a Bad Sector on Your SSD
As mentioned above, the damage that bad sectors can do varies, so you may be dealing with a few corrupted files, a slow computer, or anything in between. In some cases, you may be able to fix some of these issues.
For instance, as mentioned above, you can use the command prompt to fix problems with your drive. The surface test can also help repair some bad sector issues. These solutions will ensure that your bad sectors are removed from the usable segment of your SSD and the files are moved to another sector.
However, bad sectors sometimes cause more serious problems with your files. You may be unable to access the data even after fixing the bad sector issue. In these cases, you need to download a file recovery program that will be able to bring your files back.
There are plenty of third-party programs that can help you with this issue. Some of these programs are so sophisticated that they can recover even files that you believe were destroyed or deleted. You can find plenty of options online and for free.
If there are a lot of bad sectors in your SSD to the extent that the whole computer has been affected, you should consider replacing your SSD.
An SSD with many bad sectors is not able to store information properly, so it can cause problems with the whole computer. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to remove and replace SSDs nowadays, especially in desktop computers.
Bad sectors are a big problem for hard drives. They are caused by physical damage that can occur easily with a mechanical spinning disc.
SSDs don’t include moving parts but can still have bad sectors because of typical wear and tear due to aging or physical damage.
You will notice your SSD has bad sectors when some files have become unusable and corrupted or when your SDD or the whole device slows down or freezes. Luckily, you can test and fix these issues.